The 2017 Edition of the Fleetwood Country will be marked down in the record books as a huge success. This despite rain storms that rolled through the London and Southwestern Ontario area Sunday morning ( Today ). Fortunately the sun broke through around 9:30 and that was all it took to make the second day of the largest car show in Canada a big success.
"It's always a slow build on Sunday," said Steve Plunkett the host of the show. "We were talking today about when this all started and we couldn't remember exactly when, but I am sure this is our 13th year".
It all began with two cases of coke and a handful of cars at the Plunkett Estate at 9282 Elviage Drive, and it has grown to become an event that is huge. On Saturday this year, some estimated the number of cars on the show field as high as 5000. Sunday was smaller, in part because of the weather, but once the skies cleared and the sun started to shine the crowds began to filter in, and it didn't stop all day. People were still arriving to look at the cars as the show was wrapping up with the awards ceremony.
The awards were picked by celebrities from the "Dukes of Hazzard" TV series, and by Barry Meguiar host of "Car Crazy". Custom car building legend Gene Winfield also got to pick a winning vehicle and there was also the George Barris memorial award to present to the best custom at the show.
PROPS FOR THE "DUKES OF HAZZARD CELEBRITIES"
The vehicle that not only went home with a trophy but seemed to generate the most interest and smiles, was the "Clown Car", a rat rod owned by Michael Sharpe of Mount Brydges Ontario. The car was built and featured on the TV series "Vegas Rat Rods", for $75,000 U.S. It's like a vintage carnival ride with a massive V8 engine, and crazy clown faces and figures attached. It's a sort of Jokers gone wild sort of ride.
"I had the car built because I believe in making people smile", said Sharpe, who calls himself "The Cowboy".
Ivan Benic was also at the show again this year. A past award winner, he brought back the Cosmic Cruizer a huge van-limo style automotive sculpture with four wheels on the front that steer this beast of a van. It is decorated with custom airbrushing by Benic who has been a recognized leader in the field of automotive art since the 1970s.
The show has generated 1.4-million dollars for over 30 different charities over the past 13 years, but Mr. Plunkett told SST this year's show should put that figure "well over 1.5-million".
This year more than any other the public seemed to express its appreciation for what Mr. Plunkett does every year for the community and for are car Kulture, by hosting the show. He opens his Cadillac Museums to the public, and allows the cars to gather on his golf course, and even though there is sometimes damage to the grounds by the cars, he told SST - "It's only grass and dirt". "Overall people are very good and you know we've never had a problem," he said of allowing thousands over the years to view his Cadillac collection, which is considered one of the finest in the world. Many approached Mr. Plunkett during the show to shake his hand, and express their thanks. In addition he has also taken note of comments being made on social media, all of them positive and many expressions of gratitude for his efforts.
"It's nice to be thanked," he said. "I never knew how much the show mean to people, but seeing the comments online has really opened my eyes".
When we asked if he will be doing the show again in 2018, he simply responded "well....O.K."