Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Faribault Car Cruise season closes with impressive finale August 30, 2016

This cute little 1959 Metropolitan drew lots of attention as did its companion one several blocs away.

This cute little 1959 Metropolitan drew lots of attention as did its companion one several blocks away.

I COULD FEEL THE ENERGY, the vibe, the excitement on Friday evening in historic downtown Faribault.

This little guy was enthralled with the University of Minnesota's solar car.

This little guy was enthralled with the University of Minnesota’s solar car.

I could see the enthusiasm, the sense of community, the togetherness.

Another view of the U's solar car.

Another view of the U’s solar car.

And I heard the positive comments—the praise for Faribault Downtown Car Cruise Night and the number of collector vehicles and people the event drew. Even I couldn’t believe the scene before me as my husband and I arrived downtown an hour after the cruise started.

The crowd and vehicles stretched for blocks along Faribault's Central Avenue for Car Cruise Night.

The crowd and vehicles stretched for blocks along Faribault’s Central Avenue for Car Cruise Night.

Rather than filling the typical 1 ½ to 2 city blocks, vehicles lined four blocks of Central Avenue from Fourth Street to the Buckham Center. And the crowd of car enthusiasts far outnumbered any I’ve ever seen at these monthly cruise nights. That says a lot for the organizer—Faribault Main Street—and others who are embracing this ever-growing gathering.

One of the most unusual vehicles included this one. There's hole in the hood that allows the motor part to extend through the hood and for the vehicle to be driven.

This unusual vehicle drew lots of interest. There’s hole in the hood that allows the inner workings to extend through the hood and for the vehicle to be driven.

While I initially planned to leave my camera at home, because I’ve photographed Cruise Night many times already, I knew I would regret doing so. It was the right decision to sling my Canon 20-D across my shoulder and document whatever caught my eye. That included many many vehicles I have not seen at past Car Cruise Nights. Here’s some of what I saw:

Another favorite of mine: a 1955 Chevy Nomad two-door wagon.

Another favorite of mine: a 1955 Chevy Nomad two-door wagon, left.

A buick

Collectible car owners crossed the border from Iowa to participate in the Friday Car Cruise Night. Here’s a beautiful 1955 Buick.

A 1977

Another Iowa car: a 1977 Olds Cutlass Supreme

My appreciation for vehicles, like this Ford Torino, extends to the details. Love this artsy front end.

My appreciation for vehicles, like this Ford Torino, extends to the details. Love this artsy front end.

This Chrysler LeBaron doesn't seen all that old to me. That tells me something. I like the plain canvas backdrop of building #117, which has always been a mystery to me.

This Chrysler LeBaron doesn’t seen all that old to me. What does that tell you about my age? I appreciate the plain canvas backdrop of building #117, which has always been a mystery to me.

When a particularly noisy souped up car roared down Central Avenue, this boy covered his ears. I did the same.

When a particularly noisy souped up car roared down Central Avenue, this boy covered his ears. I did the same after snapping this image.

That would be a Mercedes.

That would be a Mercedes.

This 1956 Pontiac features a Continental kit which allows the spare tire to be attached to the back.

This 1956 Pontiac features a Continental kit which allows the spare tire to be attached to the back.

I always people watch. I have no idea why this couple was lying on the sidewalk at the intersection of Central Avenue and Fourth Street.

I always people-watch. I have no idea why this couple was lying on the sidewalk at the intersection of Central Avenue and Fourth Street.

One of the most unusual cars: a 1959 Ford Skyliner with a folding trunk.

One of the most unusual cars: a 1959 Ford Skyliner with a retractable roof, truly an engineering feat.

Hood ornaments always interest me for their artsy beauty.

Hood ornaments always interest me for their artsy beauty.

Volkswagons always

Although I don’t find the Volkswagen a particularly comfortable car (I once rode in one all the way from Mankato to central Wisconsin and back), I appreciate their unique style and cuteness factor.

Look closely and you'll find plenty of humor at a car show.

Look closely and you’ll find plenty of humor at a car cruise.

That's a chopped Model A, left.

That’s a chopped Model A, left.

As day faded into darkness, I photographed these Fords parked outside on the Faribault's oldest family-run businesses, Burkhartzmeyer Shoes.

As day faded into darkness, I photographed these Fords parked outside one of Faribault’s oldest family-run businesses, Burkhartzmeyer Shoes.

It was a perfect August summer evening in Faribault with the sky tinted red as the sun set, here looking toward the historic Buckham Memorial Library.

It was a perfect August summer evening in Faribault with the sky tinted red as the sun set, here looking toward the historic Buckham Memorial Library and the community center.

I love the hue of this unidentified vintage car.

I love the hue of this unidentified vintage car.

Although certainly not old, this Dodge Challenger Hellcat drew lots of admirers as the headlights changed colors: red, green and purple.

Although certainly not old, this Dodge Challenger Hellcat drew lots of admirers as the headlights changed colors: red, green and purple.

FYI: The Faribo Drag Ons won the first-ever Car Club Showdown on Friday evening and received a gigantic homemade trophy. (I missed the presentation.)

Friday’s event closes the 2016 Car Cruise Night season in Faribault. The event resumes in the spring. And from all indications (I talked to a key organizer and got an inside track), next year promises even more new attractions to draw folks into downtown Faribault. And that is a good thing.

A special thanks to my automotive machinist/car enthusiast husband, Randy, for his help in identifying the vehicles featured in this post.

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

For the love of photographing a car show August 31, 2015

These two vintage cars staged side-by-side with the simple building back drop caught my eye.

These two vintage cars staged side-by-side with the building back drop caught my eye. I love the repetition of lines and shapes in vehicles and building. Plus the signage and USA plate add to the visual interest.

I’M NOT INTERESTED in car shows like my husband. He can spout off makes and models and years without hesitation. Rather my interest focuses on color, curves, reflections, light, art, words—the details.

I've discovered that vintage car owners possess a sense of humor, the reason I always examine the plates.

I’ve discovered that vintage car owners possess a sense of humor, the reason I always examine the plates.

The difference in our approaches rises from our professions. He is an automotive machinist. I am a photographer and a wordsmith.

What's under the hood interests Randy far more than me.

What’s under the hood interests Randy far more than me.

He can no more frame a great photo than I can do a valve job. We fail at each others’ work.

Our friend Larry with his restored

Our friend Larry with his restored Ford Econoline truck. Car shows are also about connecting with others, not just about showing off and viewing vehicles.

Still, we delight in attending car shows together. He sees what I miss. I see what he misses. We learn from each other. I wander with my Canon DSLR. He chats up cars with those who appreciate vintage vehicles for the same reasons he does. It works for us.

I love the shiny bumpers and the reflections therein. Here

I love the shiny bumpers and the reflections therein.

About a year ago I nearly hit the jackpot with my car show meandering. I was contacted by a Chicago ad agency regarding an image I’d taken of a shiny bumper. The photo was among half a dozen in the running for a national ad campaign for a major car care product. I would have been paid a significant amount of money for use of the image. In the end, another photo was selected.

I set my camera on the street and tilted it up to take this shot. That's my husband on the left, already moving onto the next vehicle.

I set my camera on the street and tilted it up to take this shot. That’s my husband on the left, already moving onto the next vehicle.

That’s how it goes. I will keep shooting car show photos as I always have, for the joy and fun of sharing that which I discover through the lens of my camera, from my unique perspective.

BONUS PHOTOS:

Spotted in a rear window.

Spotted in a rear window.

The colors, oh, the colors.

The colors, oh, the colors.

Clamped atop a VW.

A Pioneer plate denotes a collector class car.

Clamped atop a VW van.

Clamped atop a VW bus.

This VW

This 1958 VW bus Westfalia drew lots of onlookers.

There's something about vintage vehicles lined up along the curb that is so visually appealing.

There’s something about vintage vehicles lined up along the curb that is so visually appealing.

Another vintage cooler, this one in the back of a wagon.

Another vintage cooler, this one in the back of a wagon.

A work in progress.

A work in progress.

Leaving the final Car Cruise Night of the season in historic downtown Faribault.

Leaving the final Car Cruise Night of the season in historic downtown Faribault.

FYI: The photos here were shot at the last Faribault Car Cruise Night of 2015, held on a recent Friday evening.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling