Vintage Vehicles in Passaic Park Yesterday

13 08 2007

SAMANTHA HENRY – HERALD NEWS

PASSAIC NJ, – Tom Witte reached into the front seat of his friend Jack Struller’s car and pulled out a relic from their teenage years.

“Look, he’s still got his vest,” Witte, 51, said, holding up a 1970s sleeveless denim jacket emblazoned on the back with the logo “United Street Racers — Passaic.”

The vest isn’t the only thing Struller, 53, still has from his teenage years. He also has his 1970 Plymouth Road Runner, restored to its original glory.

It was just one of the many vintage cars, classic hot rods and tricked-out wheels on display Sunday at a custom car show to benefit the Passaic Police Athletic League.

The show, held in Passaic’s Third Ward Park, was also a homecoming for many, like Struller, who remembered the heyday of street racing in once-secret locations across New Jersey.

Struller, who now lives in Sussex, said that what started out as a hobby in the 1970s has found a lucrative market in recent years.

“This was stuff that we bought for $1,500 bucks years ago,” he said. “Now it’s our 401(k).”

The show featured everything from elaborately air-brushed racing motorcycles to a vintage 1926 Ford truck with wooden siding.

An artfully restored black and white 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air station wagon painted with the words “Grandma’s Taxi” drew admiring comments from passers-by. Husband and wife team Jack and Karen Farrell of Montclair said restoring the car had been a labor of love for their whole family.

“I’m like a big kid that never grew up,” Jack Farrell said of his enthusiasm for restoring old cars. “We enjoy doing this as a family, and to see people’s reactions — it brings me joy.”

Sunday’s fundraiser — participants’ registration fees of $15 to $20 were donated to the PAL — featured live music and awards in several different categories, from best street racers to cars that hadn’t touched the track.

Luis “Lucky” Correa of Jersey Connections, a car club in Paterson, had a Toyota airbrushed with characters from the horror movie “Child’s Play,” about a murderous doll named Chucky. There were Chucky dolls belted into each of the car’s seats as well.

“We made this car such a beast, that we wasn’t gonna put something sweet on it,” Correa said of his design inspiration.

For Struller, who helped organize Sunday’s show, and the close-knit group from United Street Racers who’ve kept in touch over the years, it was a day to reminisce about the times when they used to street race everywhere from Newark to Brooklyn.

“That’s what we did Friday and Saturday,” he said. “We didn’t go out drinking; we went out racing. It kept everyone out of trouble.”

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4 responses

14 08 2007
jones

it’s too bad this event wasn’t posted in the various passaic yahoo groups and no flyers posted at QuickChek or Rutt’s Hut. Was this event supposed to be a big secret, only known to the PBA and their friends? It sure seems like it.

28 08 2007
Retro

Who doesn’t love classic cars? Seems everybody does and hollywood has jumped on the bandwagon too. You see them in just about every movie and TV show now.

10 09 2007
Bob

To address that, we publicized at Rutts as well as other car venues like the Whiskey Cafe’. Up and down Market Street as well as Main. Speed shops and all. In total the USR which Jack Struller is the president of, posted and handed out over 4000 flyers . The Show in the Park was for everyone and their families to enjoy as it will be in 2008. I apologize that it wasn’t in a Yahoo group as I had only posted it at NJCarshows.com as well as on our site. We are working out things to have 2 shows in Passaic next year I hope you can come!!

Bob
United Street Racers

7 06 2008
Jack struller U.S.R.

THIER WILL BE A SHOW IN THE PARK,ON AUGUST 10 2008 BUY WILL SMITH ,USR CLUB,PAL,PASSAIC CITY RIDERS M.C .CLUB, SO BE THIER. CRAZY JACK STRULLER PRES OF USR

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