- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
The only thing more blazing than the temperatures Saturday morning at St. Peter’s School in Waldorf were the 52 hot rods and muscle cars on display at its second annual car show and blessing of the cars.
When Principal J.R. West was brainstorming ideas last year for a way to raise money for the school without going back to the parents of its students, he came to a realization.
“Southern Maryland loves their cars,” he said.
Turns out he was right, as 97 car owners showed up at the school’s inaugural car show last summer to put their prized automobiles on display.
Following that success, West was expecting twice as many cars to show up last weekend, but he figured the heat proved too oppressive for many to spend their day sitting outside on the blacktop.
“It was a huge hit,” West said. “Everybody loved it last year, but I just think the heat was too much.”
“I think the heat scared some people off,” agreed Monsignor Bill Parent, pastor at the neighboring St. Peter’s Church.
One of the school’s three big annual fundraisers alongside its spring gala and Race for Education walk-a-thon in the fall, this year’s car show raised about $3,000.
“This is kind of a community-building event,” West said. “Southern Maryland loves their cars, so we’re bringing in people that normally don’t come to St. Peter’s.”
A little before noon Parent read the official Catholic blessing for cars, transforming each of the show’ automobiles into a “holy car.”
“Is it hot enough for everyone?” Parent asked the crowd. “The old line is, if you think this is hot, just imagine how hot hell is. So I hope to see you all in church tomorrow.”
On display were a mix of new and old cars, including several 1969 Chevrolet Camaros and 1976 Chevrolet Monte Carlos, a 2010 Dodge Challenger, a couple of 1932 Ford Roadsters, a 2008 Ford Shelby Super Snake Mustang, 1974 Oldmobile Delta 88, 1957 Ford Fairline 500, 1981 Chevrolet Corvette and 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air, which won the event’s Best in Show prize as judged by an anonymous church member, whose identity was closely guarded by West.
Also present was a red 1977 MGB driven by owner Sam Stanton all the way from his home in Brownsville, Texas.
A member of the South Texas British Car Club, Stanton originally had taken his sports car — which now has more than 171,000 miles on it after he purchased it nearly nine years ago with 65,000 miles — to a July 4 car show in Columbus, Ohio, and stopped by St. Peter’s while awaiting more shows in Pennsylvania in the next couple of weekends.
Judging by the number of inquisitive visitors he had throughout the show, Noel Clemmer of Lake Lynn, Pa., had one of the more fascinating specimens at the show —a 1930 Ford Model A coupe hauled by a 1947 Ford COE truck, which itself sits on the chassis of a 1994 Ford ambulance.
A retired Volkswagen mechanic, Clemmer built both vehicles by hand about eight years ago with parts from various cars and no schematics.
“This is what happenes when you get to my age,” he said. “Your mind goes crazy and this is what you end up with.”
Clemmer said he built the coupe — which includes a 1951 Ford engine, 1939 Ford transmission and 1948 Mercury rear bumper — in the spirit of Johnny Cash’s “One Piece at a Time.”
“I’m like Henry Ford,” Clemmer said. “Put it together, if it works, good. If it don’t, tear it down and start over.”
About the only person more popular than Clemmer was Pinch, the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs mascot, who showed up after noon and made for the show’s accompanying children’s carnival, which featured a handful of games like a ring toss and balloon dart throw.