Picnic showcases park, vintage autos alike
by Sam Matthews
May 09, 2014 | 1713 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Bill Silveira, right, chats with former Tracyite Chris Haxby in front of Bill’s restored 1924 Model T Ford. Haxby brought his Chevy Corvette from Sparks, Nev., for the show. Sam Matthews/Tracy Press
Bill Silveira, right, chats with former Tracyite Chris Haxby in front of Bill’s restored 1924 Model T Ford. Haxby brought his Chevy Corvette from Sparks, Nev., for the show. Sam Matthews/Tracy Press
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Tom Tillotson sits in the front seat of his restored 1966 El Camino pickup truck at Saturday’s Clutch Burners’ auto show in Dr. Powers Park. Courtesy of Shawn “Flashbulb” Kelley.
Tom Tillotson sits in the front seat of his restored 1966 El Camino pickup truck at Saturday’s Clutch Burners’ auto show in Dr. Powers Park. Courtesy of Shawn “Flashbulb” Kelley.
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I’ve never been a huge fan of vintage autos, but Saturday I went to Dr. Powers Park, and I’m glad I did. It was a beautiful day, and there were what appeared to be a record number of cars on display for the Clutch Burners Picnic in the Park.

Walking along row after row of refurbished cars and pickups of all kinds of shapes and colors, I ran across a couple of cars whose owners I know, and I stopped to take a closer look.

The first vehicle displayed by a familiar face was a 1966 El Camino Chevy pickup belonging to Tom “Double T” Tillotson, a coffee buddy of mine.

He and Dave Philpott, whom Tom credits with steering the restoration project along to its conclusion, just finished the final touches earlier last week in time for its debut at the car show.

Tom purchased the now-vintage pickup in 1977 from John Goulart, who had been the best man at his parents’ wedding.

“The fact that the El Camino was originally owned by a friend of my dad’s has always made it special for me,” he said.

This was the third restoration of the pickup, Tom reported, and this one, the most extensive of the three, took 14 months to complete. Power steering, air-conditioning, radio and shocks are all new, along with a number of improvements.

The Capri Cream body paint offset by red and black upholstery gives the El Camino the look Tom wanted. He drove it down to Barista’s on Wednesday morning for coffee, and the restored pickup looked as good on 10th Street as it did in the park.

If Tom’s car was just restored in time for the show, Bill Silveira wasn’t under any pressure to get his ready to be put on display. He restored his entry 30 years ago.

Bill’s 1924 Model T Ford is an iconic car in American history, the one that put Henry Ford at the top of the heap in the early years of automotive history.

Bill said a friend of his mother’s in Los Banos originally had the car, and Bill bought it some 30 years ago from the friend’s son.

“It was a rust bucket when I got it, so I had to start from scratch in restoring it. I was fortunate, though, that the car had its original license plates, and that was a real plus,” he said.

And like all Model Ts, Bill’s is all black, the only color Old Henry wanted.

Bill didn’t have any problems getting the body work done, as he owned and operated Tracy Body and Fender at that time. He retired last October from operating the Grant Line Road business for all those years.

Anyway, it was good to see such a successful event in Tracy. Dr. Powers Park never looked better. It would look even better when the Joe Wilson swimming pool sitting unused in a corner of the park is up and running again.

10th Street, great street

Major changes are still moving forward on the north side of the 10th Street block between Central Avenue and B Street in downtown Tank Town.

As I walked along that stretch of sidewalk Wednesday noon, I received two updates.

Ken Cefalo of Main Street Music reported that he is opening his new digs just down the street from his original location this coming Monday.

The 5,000-square-foot building at 45 W. 10th St., is larger than the 3,500-square-foot old location. It has been extensively remodeled from its former life as home of The Lighting Gallery. The west side of the building is divided into 13 practice rooms for budding musicians. The retail area will occupy the east side. Ken has done a lot of the work himself.

Near Ken’s at 49 W. 10th St. (where Bob Anderson’s Tracy Camera Shop was once located), John Oh is getting close, but not quite there yet, to opening The Commons restaurant and bar.

I peeked in Wednesday and saw that the interior remodeling, completed by contractor Dennis Alegre, is quite striking — well designed and tastefully decorated.

John said he didn’t have an exact date for having a “soft opening,” but it should be sometime in the next couple of weeks.

I have a hunch The Commons will be one of Tracy’s favorite gathering places.

Meanwhile, farther east down the street, Emos Korean Restaurant is open at 31 W. 10th., and so is Thai Jasmine at 27 W. 10th. Town and Country, a pioneer eatery in what has become Tracy’s restaurant row, is busy every day. No telling when the Delta Brews beer bar next to The Commons will be open, but there is plenty of activity already.

• Sam Matthews, Tracy Press publisher emeritus, can be reached at 830-4234 or by email at shm@tracypress.com.

 

Click here to see more coverage of car show, including the story of a 12-year-old girl who inherited her classic from her late grandmother. 

 
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