Old guys, old rides

Geezer Gathering brings together annual look at some of area’s best old cars.

10/06/2012 6:43 AM

10/06/2012 6:47 AM

They say that every spring, the swallows return to Capistrano. Well each fall, the geezers gather in Old Town.

The seventh annual Geezer Gathering of Wichita-area car guys and their rides, a by-invitation event started by Roy Merritt in his front yard, was last Saturday.

It didn’t take long for it to outgrow that venue, so it was moved to a stretch of Rock Island just north of Third Street. And this year’s turnout pretty well filled that venue, too.

There was everything a car guy could want, from antique cars such as Gary Lefever’s 1917 Model T touring car, to Tri-Five Chevies, street roadsters, sedans and coupes, custom trucks, midget racers and the obligatory AA/FD. Merritt got to do the honors of warming up the front-motored Steve Carbone tribute fueler and rattling the Old Town bricks with its nitro-fired exhaust.

One of the highlights was the chance encounter between two drag racing legends. Bob Riggle, driver of the famed "Hemi Under Glass" wheelstander, walked up and stuck out his hand to "Kansas” John Wiebe, who campaigned one of the last successful front-engined fuelers against the new wave of rear-engined cars. Riggle just happened to be in Wichita on Saturday and heard about the Geezer Gathering, so decided to check it out.

The two veterans did some bench racing, recalling the good old days of exhibition runs and drag strips that are now long gone. There was a lot of good-natured razzing going on throughout the event as car owners checked out each other’s rides.

There was no judging, no trophies — just a couple of gag awards presented later in the day.

The weather couldn’t have been more perfect and the day wound up, as usual, with a big hamburger/bratwurst feed.

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