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Hot Rod Hump Day gathers speed

Lisa and Les Blake, of St. Paul Park, relax in front of his 1946 Ford Pickup. The couple enjoy showing off their 'rat rods' at shows. "Kids clamor to have their pictures taken with my car," Les said last week. They are the former longtime owners of Big Daddy's Diner in Rosemount. Also pictured is Shorty Shannon, instigator of the Hot Rod Hump Day. (Bulletin photo by Toni Lambert)

Classic cars -- pristine or modified -- is the only topic of conversation for those who gather for Hot Rod Hump Day at the Car Bar.

The gathering, held by American Motorsports Bar and Grill co-owner Shorty Shannon, begins at about 4:30 p.m. on Wednesdays in the parking lot of American Motorsports, 7240 East Point Douglas Road, near Rainbow Foods in Cottage Grove.

"We thought it would be fun; something to get us over Wednesday hump days," said Shannon, a dedicated car lover. Hot Rod Hump Day officially began in mid-April and is growing each week simply by word of mouth, Shannon said. "There are no rules and no fees."

Some owners like Joel and Kristin Meyer of Cottage Grove showed up for the first time last week and expected to see neighbors and family members drive in later.

The Meyers own a 1938 Chevrolet Master Deluxe. Joel is drawn to classic cars because of their style and history. "No one in my family collected cars," he said, "but I grew up liking small engines and just kept progressing up to cars."

"I liked classic cars before I was married," said Kristin Meyer, whose father has street rods. "We go to shows to get ideas and make connections."

Cottage Grove resident Frank House was one of the first to arrive last Wednesday. He owns a 1949 Buick Super. "It has all the original parts," House said, "except I changed out the vacuum windshield wipers for electric and added a grill and a third brake light."

House puts 3,000 to 4,000 miles per year on his Buick. "Some say they go to shows to win a trophy, but I go to talk about cars," he said.

Bruce Liberty is another proud owner from Cottage Grove. He rebuilt a 1955 1st edition Chevrolet pickup given to him by his father-in-law.

"I used to attend car shows but never had a classic car until my father-in-law gave me the pickup that had been sitting in a field in Eveleth for 18 years and said 'make it work,'" Liberty said. "It took me nine years to rebuild it.

"It's not a show vehicle," he said. "We (he and his wife Deborah) just love to drive it around and have fun."

Les and Lisa Blake, of St. Paul Park, have his and her "rat rods," they said Wednesday. Hers is a modified 1930 Model T and his is a 1946 Ford pickup.

"We're a team," Les said. "I just like motorcycles and hot rods. Lisa will get in there and work right beside me."

"I don't mind getting my hands greasy," Lisa said. "It's a blast to talk to people about cars. And we love to drive them and show them off."

Shannon also organizes the car show for the annual Cottage Grove Strawberry Fest. This year's show is scheduled from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, June 20, at Kingston Park. For details about the Strawberry Fest show or Hump Day gatherings, call Shannon at (651) 768-0303.