The Fleetwood Country Cruize In is just days away, and again this year a little bit of media glitz will help make Canada's largest outdoor car show special.
Celebrities attending this year include Barber Dave and Steve Darnell from "Weld R Up" Garage, who star in "Vegas Rat Rods", as seen on the Discovery Channel. The "Vegas Rat Rods" program features some radical hot rod builds. The cars always have some rat rod flair, and loud powerful fire breathing engines. Recent builds featured on the show include a 1979 Peterbilt Transport Truck turned mega rat rod, and "Diamond T" Truck and "Power Packing Ford F-100 Pick Up".
Diamond "T" Truck
At least one "Weld R Up" creation featured on the "Vegas Rat Rods" show, will be on hand for the Fleetwood Show. Michael Sharpe will be there with his Clown Car called the "Freakshow On Wheels".
at Fleetwood Country Cruize In
The car has a carnival theme inside and out. It's based on an early 1935 International Truck, but there are parts from all kinds of different cars, and the big block V8 engine produces "over 700 Horsepower", according to Sharpe. The radical rat rod is like a "mobile fun house", and what makes it even more fun is the fact that it doesn't need to be moving to attract a crowd and engage passersby.
Even sitting still the car plays carnival music. Clown heads poke out and laugh, and while there are some spooky elements to it, the car generally makes people laugh. At car show people are allowed to sit in it just like they would a carnival ride, and at the Fleetwood Country Cruize In Car Show, Michael Sharpe is permitted to fire up the monstrous V8 and gun the engine. The thunderous exhaust excites the crowd every time, and shakes the occupants into fits of giggles and joy.
Clown Car Interior
Sharpe uses the car to raise money for charities and takes the vehicle to hospitals where he creates "Smiles for miles" for the kids using the flashing carnival ride lights, musical horn, and carnival songs blaring from speakers affixed under the hood of the "Freakshow On Wheels".
Sharpe invested about $100,000 U.S. in the "Weld R' Up" rat rod build to resurrect the International Truck in its current custom build form. Fleetwood Country Cruize In Car Show host Steve Plunkett says this year will be special in part because of the addition of the "Weld R Up" celebrities. "They just add a lot to the show," said Steve. "Bringing in the celebrities is always a big hit with the public and they are an important and unique element of our show each year".
Custom car building legend Gene Winfield will return to the "Fleetwood Country Cruize In" again this year. Winfield has become an annual favorite. He is best know for his crazy movie and TV car creations from the 1960's. Winfield is 90-years-old, but is still making rounds each year to car shows where he shows his metal shaping skills off to fascinated crowds.
"The Fleetwood Show is always special," Winfield told SST in an on camera interview during his last visit to the Steve Plunkett Estate at 9282 Elviage Drive in London Ontario. "The location is perfect for the car show and they always have outstanding cars here. Steve is a great host". Winfield is also known for designing the flying cars in the original "BladeRunner" movie, and for designing and building the original "Galileo Shuttlecraft" from the original 1960's "Star Trek" series.
Bladerunner Flying Car
The Fleetwood Country Cruize In attracts thousands of custom cars each year. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the C3 Corvette ( third generation ), so that's the featured vehicle this year.
The event has become the premier car show of the year for classic car enthusiasts who come from across Canada and the U.S. to mark the beginning of car show season. The Fleetwood event has also become very important to the community as a whole. Over the years the Fleetwood Country Cruize In Car Show, has raised over $1.5-million for over 30 different charities.