Little compares to the feeling of driving down an open road, windows down and tunes jamming. Especially if you happen to be driving through the Gunnison Valley, with the cool, pristine mountain views and Gunnison’s annual car show at the end of the road this weekend.
The Gunnison “Cool Cars, Cool Mountains” Car Show is gearing up for its 32nd annual event Aug. 16-18, but even today the show remains as much about community as it does the classics.
Automotive aficionado and longtime Gunnison resident Kevin Tutor couldn't agree more. A member of the Gunnison Car Club, Tutor said his love of cars came from growing up around a family who loved working on cars and sometimes even racing.
“I have a grandpa who used to race cars when he was young,” explained Tutor. “It’s just something I grew up with, and I had a dad that was always into cars.”
The trend continued for Tutor, who now has a quirky collection of cars of all kinds. Tutor and his wife Robyn both work together to bounce ideas off each other in terms of function and design.
One of his favorite cars he came across, a 1928 Ford RPU, comes from the Gunnison Valley — and once adorned property west of Gunnison now under the water of Blue Mesa Reservoir.
“It actually belonged to a local family in Gunnison for a number of years,” explained Tutor.
“My understanding is it came off a ranch at Iola, which is underwater now of course.”
Tutor, who does all his own restoration, also has a 1931 Ford Coupe, which is built in a classic hot-rod style. While he races in hot rod drag as well as a hot rod hill climb, Tutor still prefers the older models in comparison to newer cars.
“The older the better,” said Tutor. “These are quality vehicles that were built in the days when manufacturing was really just getting going.”
The very first Gunnison Car Show took place in 1986 to commemorate the 75th anniversary of what was then called Western State College (now Western Colorado University).
Today, the Gunnison Car Show attracts enthusiasts from all over the country with upwards of 300 cars on display.
The event has grown to include a Friday night “Cruise-In” on Main Street coupled with a free concert. This year, California-based band Sixty Grit will start the party at 5 p.m., bringing a unique blend of American roots, rock and blues.
There also will be an all-day show with events at Jorgensen Park on Saturday, and a breakfast run up to Crested Butte Sunday.
The High Octane Art Show will once again take place at Legion Park on Saturday for folks to get their fill of creatively crafted goods while cars from all periods will be located close by.
Of course, even after making their way to the show, car enthusiasts haven't lost steam when it comes to the main mission of the annual event. Each year, the car show collects nearly $10,000 in proceeds, all of which is then donated to local nonprofits and causes throughout the valley.
The historic event is courtesy of the Gunnison Car Club, a small group of about 20 or so members who share a passion for cars and community.
Car Club President Zak Trafton expressed excitement over the wide array of wheels soon to be making their way to the Gunnison Valley.
“The best part is putting on the car show in Gunnison and being able to write the checks for all the nonprofits,” said Trafton.
Still, more than the cars themselves, it’s the people that keeps bringing folks like Tutor back to the annual event.
“I just enjoy all the people that come together,” Tutor said. “Whether it’s a car I like or just one I’ve never seen before, even cars I don't particularly like — I just love everybody’s passion.”
(Kate Gienapp can be reached at 970.641.1414 or firstname.lastname@example.org .)
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS
Friday, Aug. 16
5-9 p.m. — Friday Night Cruise-In. Kick-off the weekend with cool cars taking over Main Street in Gunnison, featuring live music, food and familiar faces.
Saturday, Aug. 17
8 a.m.-3 p.m. — The car show’s main event at Jorgensen Park. Hundreds of cars will fill the park. Free to the public with live music, a poker run and plenty of fun for every age. Across Tomichi Avenue at Legion Park will be the High Octane Art Show.
Sunday, Aug. 18
7:30 a.m. — Meet to caravan to Crested Butte for the annual Breakfast Cruise. Enjoy a gourmet breakfast, visit the Crested Butte Mountain Heritage Museum and tour the town.
For more information, visit www.gunnisoncarclub.com or call club President Zak Trafton at 970.343.9508.