Franklin County Technical School   82 Industrial Blvd.   Turners Falls, MA 413 . 863 . 9561

Cool Rides Car Show Draws Large Crowd to Franklin County Tech

More than 220 cars, trucks, motorcycles and tractors motored their way onto the Franklin County Technical School grounds on Saturday for the 7th Annual Cool Rides Car Show.

One of the most popular car shows in the area, the event also attracted hundreds of people to browse, admire and talk to proud owners about the vehicles on display. This was the first year the show was organized by Jamie Noel, FCTS Technology Network Systems Engineer, and he could not have been happier with the turnout.

“It was a huge success,” he said. “Everybody seemed to have a great time. There was plenty for everybody to do, whether you were a kid or an adult. We had very good feedback.”

Noel also gave a special shout out to Brown Motors of Greenfield, the major sponsor of the show.

“I want to thank Brown Motors for generously sponsoring the car show,” he said.

Vehicles lined up in several rows under pitch perfect skies on Franklin County Technical School’s Nancy Gifford football practice field. Tom Bassett and his friend Doug Smith, both of Sunderland, brought their vehicles to the show. Bassett was displaying his 1951 Kaiser Deluxe that he’s owned since 1968.

“I call it a Kaiserlac,” he said. “It has a super charged Cadillac engine in it, which is a hybrid engine that I built.”

Bassett did all of the restoration work on the car himself, which took about two years. Besides the Deluxe, he owns three other Kaisers and a Willy’s Jeep. One of his Kaisers, a 1954 Manhattan, is only one of 230 ever built. Cool Rides Car Show Draws Large Crowd to Franklin County Tech

Smith brought his 1954 Hudson Hornet Coupe, the last of the “step-down” Hudson cars, to the show. The step-down Hudsons featured a lowered floor plan to maximize interior headroom. Smith noted that in 1954, Hudson merged with Nash-Kelvinator Corporation to form American Motors.

“I bought it sight unseen in 2008,” Smith said of the Hudson. “It was a mess. It took me four-and-a-half years to restore it.”

Smith said he does as many car shows and cruise nights as possible during the year, weather permitting. He particularly enjoys the Cool Rides Car Show.

“This is a great show,” Smith said. “The weather is always nice. The food is great, there are things for kids to do, and it’s free.”

The Cool Rides Car Show featured several other activities, including kid’s attractions like a bounce house, face painting, and coloring books. The PEP Drag Way, operated by the school’s Pre-Employment Program students, was popular all day long as kids raced Hot Wheels cars down a 24-foot gravity track.

A number of Franklin County Technical School clubs and shops participated in the Cool Rides Car Show. SkillsUSA held a raffle; the National Honor Society sold coffee and donuts; the Alumni Association sold tee-shirts; PEP sold kettle corn, soda and water; Cosmetology students painted fingernails; and FCTS School Store sold school apparel and accessories.

The FCTS Health Technology program also held blood pressure screenings. Cool Rides Car Show Draws Large Crowd to Franklin County Tech

The Culinary Arts program hosted “Taste of Tech,” a menu of food prepared by staff and students that included a pulled pork sandwich, hot dogs, hamburgers, cheeseburgers, hand-cut French fries, root quesadilla, teriyaki chicken over rice, desserts, coffee and beverages. The deviled eggs and autumn bisque soup were made with ingredients from local farms.

Jen Bartak was at Cool Rides with her mother and father Cindy and Steve True. Bartak and her parents brought their 1972 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 and 1962 Chevrolet Belair to the show. Bartak said that the Camaro was owned by a neighbor when she was growing up and she always wanted to buy it, but her mother got there first.

“I always loved it, but he said he’d never sell it,” she joked. “About three years ago my mom bought it out from under me. So, it’s a family car.”

Saturday was the first time the family had attended the Cool Rides Car Show, but said they would be back.

“It's family friendly; the food is great,” Cindy True said. “There’s lots of room to walk around.”

Percy Spence drove his 1932 Ford Model B from Granby to the show. He bought the modified car as is in 2012, and added some personal touches like interior features, lights and wheels. He said he attends a lot of cruise nights a year, and was at the Cool Rides Car Show last year.

“This is a great show,” he said. “You don’t see cars at other places that you see here. You get to see what the students and staff do here too.”

Jonathan Bevins of Putney, Vermont brought a small 1968 Sears Super 12 garden tractor to the show. He had never been to Cool Rides before but “people told me it was a fun place to go.”

“This is a lot of fun,” Bevins said. “This is a great place for the show. It’s a great way to see the school and see what goes on here.”

FCTS Gets Everything It Can From Demolition Derby Car

Although the Franklin County Technical School demolition derby car lasted only about 10 minutes before limping out of the ring at the Franklin County Fair, driver John Fortin said he “got a few hits in.”

“The thing was a rust bucket,” said Fortin, who is an instructor in the FCTS Automotive Technology program. “It folded up like an accordion. It’s almost like a social event. I think we put on a good show.”

The school’s demolition derby car was a 1996 Buick Roadmaster, painted black and decorated with paintings of a skull and eagle heads. By the end of it, the car’s front end had fallen off, the body was split down the middle, and the transmission and drive shaft were broken, among other various dents and dings.

“I was done,” Fortin said.

FCTS Gets Everything It Can From Demolition Derby Car

Franklin County Tech has entered a car in the demolition derby for a number of years. Fortin said they use vehicles for the derby that are past their usefulness in instructing Automotive Technology students.

“We get the cars donated to us,” he said. “We use them as long as we can, and then we usually scrap them. But, if it’s good enough for the demolition derby, we’ll enter it.”

Luis Vega, a senior from Turners Falls, was Fortin’s mechanic at the derby. A couple of days before the event he said he was looking forward to seeing what the car could do in the ring.

“I don’t know if the car will last long, but I’ll keep it running as long as I can,” Vega said. “It’s pretty rusty. Either way I’ll have fun. This is my first time at the demolition derby.”

Prior to the derby, Vega worked on the Buick as part of a project that students do in the Automotive Technology shop. Fortin said they take a car’s engine apart and he shows them the various parts and explains the function of each.

FCTS Gets Everything It Can From Demolition Derby Car

“The students then put the engine back together and get the car running again,” Fortin said. “Since this was Luis’ project, he’s coming with me to the derby.”

There were about 35 competitors in this year’s demolition derby. Fortin said about a half dozen of them were former FCTS students.

Abby Barton, a senior from Orange, decorated the car with paintings of the skeleton, eagles and the number. She said she was going for something intimidating.

“I printed out pictures and cut them into stencils,” Barton said. “I went with a Mad Max Fury Road theme. I saw the movie and Mr. Fortin and I had a mutual idea of what we wanted to do with it.”

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