Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Running with the Devils

North Dakota car show a big hit with Manitobans

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It was already dark last Friday night when I finally found the time to drop a battery in my 1949 Pontiac Silver Streak and fire up the engine for the first time this year. The car had been waiting for me patiently in front of the garage since last fall, and it didn't disappoint. With a healthy gulp of gasoline squirted into the carburetor, it sputtered for a moment then roared to life. Following a quick oil change and an even quicker shakedown run, we were good to go.

On Saturday morning with the birds chirping and not a single cloud in the sky, we hit the highway south on route to the 20th annual Devil's Run, a popular car show in Devils Lake, N.D., that folks have been telling us was a must-attend event for a number of years now.

My wife Melanie and I packed light and hit the highway early. Following a back road run that took us through some amazing North Dakota scenery complete with tidy farms and more than a few old cars lying in wait in fields of dreams, we arrived in Devils Lake just after lunch. We were greeted by more than 20 fellow members from Manitoba's Riff Raff Car Club, who had saved a parking spot for us.

With the sun shining and more than 1,000 classic and special interest vehicles on display in Roosevelt Park, the event was much larger than we'd anticipated, and the extreme level of hospitality was also a welcomed surprise. Our $50 entry fee not only allowed us to display our car in the park, but also meant we got three free meals per day (including a tasty steak dinner) and access to exciting events that included a smokey burnout competition and a well attended car auction. There was also a nice variety of vendors on hand selling cool automotive related parts, accessories and, of course, T-shirts.

Despite the fact that we had travelled more than four hours, it was more like a local show, as countless cruisers from both Winnipeg and throughout Manitoba stopped by to say hello.

On Saturday evening we headed to the nearby Woodland Resort, where most of our fellow Riff Raff members were sitting around a campfire roasting marshmallows and laughing. The best thing about being Riff Raff members is that the club has grown to become a tight-knit group of like-minded friends with a distinct emphasis on family fun. A few members brought along their kids, and everyone agreed that it was a total riot to share in the enthusiasm that the next generation of hot rod hearts experienced south of the border. For the kids in the crew, lifelong memories like the ones I made as a kid touring the U.S. with my father Dave and his fellow MSRA members back in the 1980s were surely cemented.

There was rain on Sunday morning but it dried up quickly and the day turned out to be a real scorcher. Because Devils Run is open to all makes, models and years of special-interest vehicles, it was neat to lay eyes on not only cool old cars but also a nice variety of late-model muscle machines, trucks and even a few custom boats.

We headed for home just after lunch, but not before stopping for some shopping at the local Kmart. Later, as we were barrelling down the highway, a convoy of cruisers led by longtime MSRA member Lyle Dunsmore pulled us over and advised that we had actually won the grand prize draw, a brand spanking new jukebox valued at more than $1,500.

The only problem was you had to be in attendance to win.

Did I mention I hate Kmart?

A big shout out to everyone involved in making the 20th annual Devils Run a raging success, and thanks to our fellow Riff Raff Car Club members for a most memorable weekend. It's a sure bet we'll be back next year, and it's also a sure bet we will hang around to the very end!

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 8, 2012 F8

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