Classic car show to rev up downtown Lenox


LENOX -- Come rain, come shine, the downtown center will be transformed Friday evening into a vibrant street festival built around the second annual Lenox Motorcar Classic.

The display includes more than 100 vintage, antique, classic, muscle and stock cars, most of them owned by Berkshire County residents eager to display their passion for all things on wheels.

The three-hour event, starting at 6 p.m., features a Beach Boys tribute band from New Hampshire, All Summer Long, performing on an outdoor stage in the Roche Reading Park at the town library, under a tent donated by Classical Tents.

With the weather outlook iffy, plans have been made to move the concert into the Town Hall auditorium in case of steady rain.

The joint Lenox Chamber of Commerce and town partnership was jump-started by a $2,500 grant from the Lenox Economic Development Fund approved by the Select Board.

"It brings in the local county population to enjoy their backyard. It's a good way for them to enjoy what the visitors enjoy," said Ralph Petillo, the chamber's executive director. Some local restaurateurs will offer sidewalk food sales.

"If we get anywhere from 1,000 to 1,500 people attending, I'll be ecstatic," Petillo said.

After a year as a local muscle car show followed by two more as the Berkshire British Motorcar Festival organized by an outside promoter, the event was taken over last year by business owner and Selectman Ken Fowler, a longtime classic car buff.

"This show is designed to give people an opportunity to come into Lenox, it doesn't cost anything, we don't charge the cars to register," he explained. "This is a party that the chamber and the town are throwing for people to come in and just enjoy themselves. It's a big block party for Berkshire County."

"It would happen even if I had no chamber or no town," Fowler insisted during a conversation at his Shear Design salon in downtown Lenox, which he has owned since 1977.

"The car owners really like a no-pressure, no-registration cruise," he pointed out.

Participants, including the Pittsfield Piston Poppers car club, will assemble in a staging area at Shakespeare & Company on Kemble Street between 5 and 5:30 on Friday and then convoy into town at 5:45, led by a vintage State Police cruiser and local antique fire department trucks.

The route continues on Walker Street to Church, Franklin and Main streets; the vehicles will be parked diagonally on Main between the war monument and the village center, and on Church Street.

Included in the show are antique vehicles at least 45 years old, while classics earn the designation at the age of 30; definitions vary among car clubs. Enthusiasts consider cars from 1919 to 1930 as "vintage."

As the proud owner of a 1970 Triumph Spitfire that's being restored, Fowler described the passion of classic car enthusiasts as "incredible." In his case, it's American V-8s, "despite everything, the car that keeps coming back, proving that the passion people have never dies."

The special attraction of the classics, he said, is that "they take you to places, in a different way our childhood and teen memories are all tied up in this. Your first coming-of-age, all of us have associations with a vehicle."

Seeing a favorite car from decades ago triggers time-travel nostalgia, Fowler noted, as well as memories of the music of the era -- "that's why we have a band, it's part of the whole thing. Back then you drove around, listening to an AM radio. It was powerful."

He has a soft spot for Chevy Chevelles from the ‘60s, and there will be several in Friday evening's show. "I'm particularly fond of American muscle cars off the line," he went on, as well as stock cars, essentially untouched since they were manufactured.

"I draw no distinctions between a ‘68 Renault, a ‘78 Ferrari and a 2013 Corvette," said Fowler. "To me, they're all exciting, and that's why I've tried to design a show than encompasses British cars, American cars, exotics that cost more than you make in a year -- with handcrafted aspects such as Lamborghinis, Ferraris, Bentleys, Rolls Royces, certain older Porsches."

He intends to see the show grow as an annual mid-June fixture and perhaps expand to a full weekend, based just outside the center of town, especially if a corporate sponsor can be located.

Main Street, between Franklin and Walker streets, will be closed from 5:30 to 9 p.m., with traffic controlled by the police department. Limited access will be granted to customers of the post office and businesses in the area. Parking restrictions will be in effect on portions of Main and Housatonic streets after 5 p.m.

To contact Clarence Fanto:

or (413) 637-2551.

On Twitter: @BE_cfanto

Parking and Traffic Rules...

Parking: After 5 p.m., no public parking along Main Street from the southern entrance to the Village Center to the monument at Main, Walker, West streets and Old Stockbridge Road, or on Housatonic Street from Main to Church streets.

Traffic: Main Street closed between Franklin and Walker streets from 5:30 to 9 p.m. The Lenox Police Department, which will be controlling traffic during the event, will grant limited access for customers of businesses in the area. Other traffic along Main Street will be re-directed through Franklin and Church streets.

Source: Lenox Town Manager's Office.


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