Cloquet Classic Car Daze revs up

There's a heap of horsepower headed for Cloquet this weekend. The annual Cloquet Classic Car Daze (formerly Al's Rod Run) is set for Thursday through Sunday, Aug. 2-5, and hundreds of car buffs from throughout the region are expected to take part...

There's a heap of horsepower headed for Cloquet this weekend.

The annual Cloquet Classic Car Daze (formerly Al's Rod Run) is set for Thursday through Sunday, Aug. 2-5, and hundreds of car buffs from throughout the region are expected to take part.

Special features this year include an expanded Thursday night show, with classic car displays at both Gordy's Hi-Hat and Sammy's Pizza in Sunnyside, and a feature display of a Sox and Martin 1968 'Cuda at the free car show in Veterans Park from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday.

"Ronny Sox was probably the best four-speed car racer ever to participate in the sport," said Gary Homstad, one of the event's organizers. "He was involved in drag racing in the '60s, '70s and '80s."

Homstad went on to say that following Sox's death in April 2006 from prostate cancer, Sox's widow, Diane, started the Ronny Sox Foundation and now travels around the country with various memorabilia from Ronny's racing days raising money for St. Jude's Children's Hospital in Ronny's memory. Part of the proceeds from this year's Cloquet Classic Car Daze, raised primarily through sponsors, will be donated to the Foundation.


Registration for participants at this year's event opens on Wednesday, Aug. 1.

"You don't have to be a car owner to take part," said Homstad. "Anyone who simply wants to be a part of the action can come down, pay their $40, and spend Wednesday through Sunday on the east end of Dunlap Island [near the lumberjack statue]."

Homstad explained the registration fee includes two meals - a Saturday evening cookout and a Sunday morning breakfast.

"We want to expand the event and make it more spectator-friendly," he added.

Friday, classic car owners are invited to take part in the Wrenshall Brickyard Days Car Show just down the road from Cloquet.

Beginning at 8 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 4, InLine Automotive will run their Chassis Dyno and the free classic car show will get under way in Veterans Park, showcasing vehicles from 1988 and older. An additional feature of the car show this year will be a dirt track car simulator on display, and awards will be presented to the top 10 cars.

At noon on Saturday, the big Poker Run for participants heads out of the chute and will run up until 3 p.m. Crowds are expected to line the route for the popular Cloquet Classic Car Daze Parade, leaving Dunlap Island at 4 p.m., heading down Avenue C, along Chestnut Avenue to Pinehurst Park, north on Highway 33 to Cloquet Avenue, east on Cloquet Avenue to 14th Street and then winding its way back to Dunlap Island.

"The parade has gotten so big that often we have the lineup of participants actually lap each other along the parade route!" Homstad exclaimed.


Following the Saturday dinner for participants, the gates will open at 5:30 p.m. for the exciting evening's events. Tickets are $2 per person, with children ages 12 and under admitted for free if accompanied by an adult. For the protection of vehicles and spectators, no bikes, skateboards, rollerblades or dogs will be allowed.

The big show begins at 6 p.m. and lasts until approximately 9:30 p.m. and includes Burnout Contest, Muffler Rapping and the suspenseful Flame Throwing, with audience participation invited and encouraged during the judging.

"The whole bottom line is fun," said Homstad.

Contestants must register by 3 p.m. Saturday afternoon at a cost of $20 per entry. A $200 prize will be offered for each of the events.

In explaining the idea behind the various events, Homstad commented, "This is kind of a way to legally do with our cars what many of us tried as kids!"

The Burnout Competition features rear-wheel-drive cars that are chained to a steel pad and the driver then spins his or her tires to create as much smoke as possible. The cars will be judged by a panel of four judges and audience reaction.

Muffler Rapping operates on the simple philosophy of revving your motor and making as much noise as possible. The top entrant will once again be selected by the panel of judges and the audience.

The dramatic Flame Throwing Event involves inserting a spark plug into the exhaust pipe of a car and flipping a switch, causing it to emit an electrical spark, resulting in a flame that often extends many feet out behind the vehicles, which Homstad said include pickups, cars and street rods.


The evening's events will include a drawing for a small block Chevy engine.

Homstad said in past years, some 85-125 participants have taken part in the weekend, but the Cloquet Classic Car Daze Committee is hoping this year's event will attract 150-200.

"The city has been really good to us," Homstad commended. "The park department has helped us with water and bleachers and in setting up barricades, and the fire and ambulance crews and police have been great as well."

For more information on the weekend's events, go to the Web site at: or contact Homstad at 879-4348.

Pine Journal Publisher/ reporter Wendy Johnson can be contacted at: .

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