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Polo Car Show parked on summer calendars

Event becomes tradition for many local families

Ali Merath, 4, helps polish a mirror under her grandpa’s 1967 Chevelle at the Polo Car Show Saturday. Ali is the granddaughter of Mike and Kathy Blaser, of Janesville, Wis., who returned to the show after a decade away.
Ali Merath, 4, helps polish a mirror under her grandpa’s 1967 Chevelle at the Polo Car Show Saturday. Ali is the granddaughter of Mike and Kathy Blaser, of Janesville, Wis., who returned to the show after a decade away.

POLO – Santos Rodriguez always makes sure the Polo Car Show is on his list of things to do in the summer.

“I love it,” the Sterling resident said as he looked at cars with his sons Isiah and Jeremiah on Saturday. “I just have a good time here and bring my sons and we have a really nice day.”

Rodriguez started attending the downtown show when his older sons, now 30 and 26, were younger.

“Now they bring their sons to the show,” he said. “It’s a lot of good clean fun.”

Mike and Kathy Blaser, of Janesville, Wis., made the trip back to Polo after a 10-year hiatus.

They brought their 1967 Chevelle to show and their 4-year-old granddaughter, Ali Merath, along as a helper.

“We came here about 10 years ago and then we quit for a while and decided to come back this year,” Mike said.

The Chevelle sports a 454 engine. “I run racing gas in it, and that’s about $6.95 a gallon,” he said.

“It’s really Ali’s and her grandpa’s car,” Kathy said as Ali cleaned one of the Chevelle’s mirrors. “The heat finally broke this summer. It was just too hot to go anywhere before that.”

Stratford resident Ron Baker had a much shorter drive to the show when he hopped into his 1927 Durant Motors Star and motored 5 miles west to Polo.

His wife followed him along Pines Road to make sure the “depot hack” didn’t falter.

“We made it,” Baker said smiling. “I’ve had a couple of Model Ts, and this kind of looks like one of those, but it is different.”

The Star’s roomy interior, framed in wood, seats six passengers. Its four-cylinder Continental engine is powered by a vacuum fuel system and complemented by a three-speed manual transmission. The Star was designed to compete with the Ford Model T.

Baker bought it from an estate sale in northern Wisconsin. Saturday marked the first time he had taken the car out for an extended ride.

“It has had some work done on it, so it’s not original. I don’t think there are many of them still out there that are drivable. It does seat seven, so it’s like an SUV,” he said smiling.

“They call it a depot hack because they used it to take people back and forth from the train depot.”

Just 20 yards away, Rich Phillips, of Thomson, was showing a much different vehicle – his rat rod, a 1951 Chevy truck with lots of aftermarket add-ons, including an animated wooden clown in the passenger seat and a water-spitting fish as a hood ornament.

“The clown is from an old bank,” he said. “This is a rat rod, so I have stuff all over it.”

Some of that “stuff” included old license plates, a hub cap for a steering wheel, and the water-spitting fish that Phillips controls with a remote control, much to the surprise of unsuspecting passersby.

“I have fun with it,” he said.

But the Chevy has earned its awards, too, taking part in the 7-State Power tour 3 years ago.

“We went everywhere in 2009. We got a long-hauler award when we went from Madison, Wis., to Bristol, Tenn.” he said.

Dave Knutson, of Polo, also had his “new” 1965 Shelby on display.

“I bought it in December, so it is new to me,” Knutson said. “I’d been looking for one, and I found this one in St. Louis.”

The sporty two-seater is powered by a 351 Ford Windsor engine and five-speed manual transmission.

Show organizer Cliff Harmon said he was pleased with this year’s turnout.

“We ended up with 131 cars, 12 tractors and about a dozen motorcycles,” Harmon said Monday. “It was a very good show and the weather was great. We keep trying to improve it each year. I think this was probably our best show in 8 years.”

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