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Event a hot-rod heaven

4/14/2014

By MATTHEW KENWRIGHT

mkenwright@dailynews.net

Saturday's classic automobile show in Hays, complete with Chuck Berry and Elvis tunes in the background, recalled memories of a bygone era.

Approximately 40 vehicles parked in Municipal Park for Hot Rods for Humanity -- a fundraiser for Habitat for Humanity of Ellis County. The evolution of iconic cars made by BMW, Porsche, Ford, Chevrolet and other brands were represented from 1928 to 2014.

Linn Ann Huntington, co-president of the non-profit and a Fort Hays State University professor of communication studies, said her Communication Studies 490 course staged the event as a learning opportunity and a service to the community.

"We're thrilled," Huntington said. "We are always thrilled when students want to organize some type of activity that spotlights the need for people to be able to obtain decent, affordable housing."  

Sponsors donated food, prizes for games and the cost for trophies for the top 20 cars. Kris Munsch, a board member of the non-profit, made the plaques for such categories as best paint, best muscle car and best engine. Attendees could vote for their favorite vehicle for the people's choice award.

James Younger, an FHSU senior who came up with the event and planned it with his group members, said car shows are popular because the vehicles demonstrate individualism.  

"I think the reason why is just because, with a hot rod, it's such a dynamic thing when it comes to the owner," Younger said. "Everything is just up to the person that is creating the hot rod. So, in a way, it's a reflection of their personality."

Tom Schroller, Hays, said he drove a 1929 Ford Model A to the program. He started restoring cars in 1979 when he worked on the bodies of vehicles. Car shows are compelling because they stir "nostalgia" in attendees, he said.

"I think the older cars have more character, more looks, more memories," Schroller said.

Bob Stecklein, Hays, said he has invested $15,000 in his 1952 Chevy Bel Air in 35 years.

"This is probably the second or third time it's been fixed up," Stecklein said. "It used to be brown; now it's white. It used to have a 6-cylinder; now it's got a V8."

Habitat for Humanity of Ellis County has built two homes in Hays and one in Ellis.