You’ve probably heard the popular saying “Little boys, little toys, big boys, big toys.” When it comes to cars, the saying is certainly true. While little boys love their matchbox and model cars, big boys, including dads, grandpas and husbands enjoy looking at cars, especially vintage cars and race cars.
My late father-in-law’s passion, besides his wife, was “Sweetheart,” a 1937 Buick, which he purchased in the later years of his life. Stanley enjoyed driving the vehicle around town, taking it to shows and riding in parades with Alice, my mother-in-law at his side. Although Stanley and Alice are now gone, “Sweetheart” is still very much part of our family, as my husband is now her caretaker.
Since June is dad’s month, and let’s face it, dads are just little boys all grown up, why not spend some quality time with him strolling through some of our area’s many car shows, taking him to a car museum or, if dad has a need for speed, taking him to one of our area’s auto race tracks.
There are car shows, both large and small, held every weekend from now until October. Here’s just a sampling of local shows. For a more complete listing, go to www.rodandpiston.com (formerly WNYcarclubs.com) . Most shows charge an entry fee for car owners and generally charge a small admission for spectators. Many of these shows offer trophies and other prizes for the car owners, so you’ll see many beautifully restored vehicles displayed.
55th Annual Antique Automobile Club of America (Lake Erie Region) Sunday June 3 at Clarence Center Volunteer Fire Company, Goodrich & Clarence Center Road, Clarence Center. This is a well attended show with a large variety of cars of all makes and models, from the 1920’s and 1930’s to the 1980’s. This is one of the shows my husband usually participates in. For more information call 937-3149 or 549-1810 or visit www.aaca.org/lakeerie.
21st Father’s Day Car Show June 16-17 10 am to 4 pm each day at Darien Lake Theme Park Resort. This annual show is a perfect place to take dad on Father’s Day. For more information contact the park 585-599-4641 or visit www.godarienlake.com
4th Father’s Day Car Show June 17 from 12-5, Olcott Beach. Free admission and parking. Fee for show car; proceeds to benefit the Miller Hose Fire Company. They will also have a chicken BBQ. Call 799-4974 for more information.
4th Annual Clutch Artist Spring-0-Rama June 17 from 9 am-5 pm at the Main Transit Fire Hall, 6777 Main Street, Williamsville. Lots of hot rods and modifieds can be found at this show.
Amherst Museum Car Show July 7 at the Amherst Museum, 3755 Tonawanda Creek Road, Amherst. This is a nice show; classic cars, paired with the historic buildings at the museum. Contact the museum 689-1440 for more information.
Rod & Piston’s 5th Annual Super Cruise July 8 from 9 am-5pm, rain or shine. Gratwick Riverside Park, River Road, North Tonawanda. This event features classics, late models, motorcycles and sports compacts. There will be kid’s activities, a craft show, vendors and music.
Buffalo Thunderbird Club 22nd Annual All Thunderbird Show July 15, West Herr Ford, 5025 Camp Road, Hamburg. The place to be if you like T-birds.
Rotary Club 4th Annual Car Show July 15 from 9 am-5pm at the Amherst Pepsi Center, 1615 Amherst Manor Drive, Amherst.
30th Annual Buick Club of America Great Lakes Regional August 11, Holiday Inn, 100 Whitehaven Road, Grand Island. Show starts at 11 am. This show features almost every make and model of Buick.
Fantasy Island Car Show August 19 from 9 am-5 pm, Martin’s Fantasy Island, 2400 Grand Island Blvd., Grand Island. We went to this show last year. It’s nice for kids; especially if they are old enough to go off to the rides on their own while mom and dad look at the cars.
Hot August Blast Car Show August 24-26 at the Agri-Center at the fairgrounds, 5820 South Park Ave., Hamburg 648-9733. The show is from 9 am-10pm Friday and Saturday and 9-3 on Sunday.
Toy Fest Car Show August 26 from 9 am-4pm on Main Street, East Aurora. 687-5151. Historic Main Street in East Aurora is the perfect backdrop for classic cars.
Olcott Beach Classic Car Show, Saturday September 1, 19-5 pm Krull Park Olcott. Over 700 classic cars are expected to participate in this annual event. Admission and parking are free for spectators. Fee for show car. This show is sponsored by the Time Travelers of WNY Car Club 692-2433, www.timetravelerswny.com
25th Annual Southgate Plaza Car Show Southgate Plaza, Union Road, West Seneca. September 2 from 9 am-4pm. This huge show is sponsored by the Police Benevolent Association. This is pretty much the last hurrah for the summer in respect to car shows.
Car cruises are similar to car shows, but a bit more informal; they are just a regular place show up to show off your car. In most cases, there are generally no prizes given to the car owners and no admission charged for spectators.
Saturday Night Car Cruise, May 26-September 6-9pm, Main Street, Olcott. A DJ’s plays tunes form the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s at this outdoor cruise sponsored by the Olcott Beach Community Association and area businesses 778-7767.
Tuesday Cruise Night Tuesdays May 8-October 16, Pautler's Drive-in, 6343 Transit Road, East Amherst. Enjoy hot dogs, hamburgers, ice cream and more at this popular family restaurant, while looking at some classic autos.
Cataract Cruises Academy Park, Center Street, Lewiston, Wednesdays May 3-October 3 from 5-9 pm. See the cars, then stay in picturesque Lewiston and enjoy dinner in one of their many fine restaurants.
Freewheelers Friday Night Pages Whistle Pig, Packard & Military Roads, Niagara Falls. Fridays May 4- September 7 from 5-9pm. A super cruise will take place at this popular hot dog stand on June 8 (rain date June 15)
Canal Fest Super Cruise July 18 from 5:30-10pm, Main Street, Tonawanda/North Tonawanda. This event is part of the Canal Fest festivities.
A Taste of Clarence & Cruise Night August 6 from 4-9 pm at Clarence Town Park, 10405 Main Street, Clarence. Food from area restaurants will be available, along with a display of classic cars.
There are numerous racecar tracks located throughout western New York that feature stock cars, speedsters, modifieds, NASCAR and more. We’ve even listed a couple places that dad can do some racing of his own!
Lancaster Raceway Park (716-629-8531; www.lancasterracing.com) 57 Gunville Road, Lancaster. Open May-September, Fridays at 7 pm, Saturdays at 6 pm. Speedsters race on Saturday, while dragsters race on Friday evening.
Holland International Speedway (716-537-2272; www.hollandspeedway.com) 2 North Main Street, Holland. Open Saturday nights April-September. It has a 3/8 mile NASCAR-sanctioned short track.
Ransomville Speedway (716-791-3602; www.ransomvillespeedway.com) 2315 Braley Rd. (off Ransomville Rd.) Ransomville. This Niagara County track has racing every Friday night from May-September on a ½ mile dirt oval track.
Wyoming County International Speedway (585-237-2510;
www.wyomingcountyinternationalspeedway.com) 35 Adrian Road, Perry. Stock car racing takes place on Sunday afternoons at 2:30 pm, May –September.
New York International Raceway Park (585-382-3030; www.nyrip.com) 2011 New Road, Leicster. Drag racing takes place Saturdays and Sundays April – October.
Watkins Glen International (607-535-2481, 866-461-RACE; www.theglen.com) 2790 CR 16, Watkins Glen. This is the premier race track in our region, offering NASCAR racing May-September. Unlike the other racetracks previously mentioned, you have to secure tickets well in advance; tickets actually went on sale in December. They are also quite expensive, but if dad is a big racing fan, you may want to look into going here. Check the website or call for a brochure for specific race dates and prices.
If dad wants to try his hand at racing, here are a couple places to try.
Fast Freddie’s Ultimate Fun Center (716-686-0173; www.fastfreddiesufc.com ) 3052 Walden Avenue, Depew. Open Tuesday-Thursday 4-9pm, Friday 4-11 pm, Saturday 11-11, Sunday 12-7 pm. Kids over 46 inches tall and adults can enjoy indoor sprint car racing at this unique facility. They charge $5.50 for a single car and $8 for a two seater, so that dad and child can ride together. Dad can live out his fantasy of being a race car driver!
Adventure Speedway (716-692-3122; www.adventurelanding.com) 3939 Niagara Falls Blvd., Wheatfield. This ¼ mile outdoor go-kart track has live racing results posted on the leader board. You have to be 56” or taller to drive alone.
Car Museums, etc.
Buffalo Transportation-Pierce Arrow Museum (716-853-0084; www.pierce-arrow.com) 263 Michigan Ave., Buffalo Open Wed.-Sun. 12-5. Jim Sandoro’s 20,000 square foot museum focuses of Buffalo’s transportation history, with special emphasis on the Buffalo-made Pierce Arrow automobile. Many of the vehicles on display are from Sandoro’s personal collection, as well as others on loan from collectors all over the country. This is the only automotive museum in the Buffalo area.
Stonebridge Motors (607-738-9605; www.stonebridgecars.com) 363 E. Market Street Ext., Corning. (About 2 ½ hours south east of Buffalo) Anyone who is interested in European and American classic cars will enjoy wandering through their lot and showroom. While it’s actually a car dealership, owner Don Coon welcomes people who are just browsing. In addition to the vintage cars, he has all sorts of Watkins Glen, NASCAR and vintage racing memorabilia displayed. Corning is about 20 miles south of Watkins Glen. (See information on race tracks).
Niagara Hobby & Craft Mart (716-681-1666; www.niagarahobby.com) 3366 Union Road at Walden Ave., Cheektowaga. If you want to buy dad a car (that you can actually afford) this place is your best bet. They have hundred of models that you or dad can assemble and paint, along with die cast models ready to be displayed.
If dad is into “hogs” instead of cars, there are also some motorcycle-related attractions and events that might be of interest to him. Check out the website www.cyberspokes.com for a complete listing of local motorcycle events.
Gowanda Harley-Davidson, Inc. (716-532-4584) 2532 Gowanda-Zoar Road, Gowanda. This is one of the largest Harley-Davidson dealers in the country. The gift shop features a large selection of Harley memorabilia, clothing and more.
Gowanda Hollywood Happening. This annual event, a fundraiser for the restoration of the historic Hollywood Theater in Gowanda, will take place June 1-3. Call 716-532-6103 or visit www.hollywoodtheater.info for more information.
5th Annual Rally in the Valley. This event, which takes place in Olean August 17-19, draws several thousand motorcyclists from all over the region, with proceeds benefiting community charities. For more information call 716-372-4433 or visit www.oleanny.com
“Scoot to the Root” One of Buffalo’s best bike nights, takes place Tuesdays, May 15-August 28 from 7-11 pm at Root Five Restaurant, 4914 Lakeshore Road, Hamburg.
“Hog Wild Wednesdays” This weekly summer Wednesday night motorcycle event takes place at the Buffalo Smokehouse, 257 Franklin Street. Call 716-725-2745 for more information.