MESABI DAILY NEWS
VIRGINIA — Barb and Ralph Maki have been involved with the Dream Machines Annual Fuzzy Dice Cruise and Car Show nearly since its beginning.
The 27th annual event will kick off tonight with the Fuzzy Dice Cruise from 6-10 p.m. and continue Saturday with the car show, both on Chestnut Street.
For the Makis, there is no doubt they will be taking part in both events with their 1941 Chevy Coupe.
Ralph Maki expects between 300 and 400 vintage automobiles to be dragging the main street. “It’s hard to count because there is so many cars going up and down steady,’’ he said.
The beautiful display of classic cars has become more popular than the car show itself.
“We get more cars in town for the cruise on Friday night than we do for the show on Saturday,’’ he added. “They’d rather have fun driving their cars than parking it and having people look at them.’’
Classic car owners are no doubt anxious to cruise up and down Chestnut Street.
“The cruise is supposed to be 6-10, but they start showing up already mid-afternoon. You see them driving by, up and down,’’ Ralph Maki said.
In addition to the atmosphere, the businesses that sell food on Chestnut are usually open, including the Servicemen’s Club serving on the sidewalk.
Come Sunday, there will be about 125-130 vehicles on display and hundreds of area residents walking by to check them out. The cars will also be judged in a number of classes.
“We try to give a trophy to every class that’s entered, which ends up to be about 50 trophies that we give out,’’ he said. In addition, the club also gives out a lot of door prizes.
Barb Maki was proud to say, “The Dream Machines do a lot for the community. If we have any money left over, we always donate it back to either Care Partners or the VFW. We’ve donated to the fire hall, many places. They all support us, so we like to give back.’’
Maki has spent about 20 years collecting cars and refurbishing them.
“I just wish I had some of my old cars back still. But nothing lasts forever,’’ he said. That includes a 1956 Chevrolet, then a 1962 and a 1968 Camaro. That was followed by a 1969 Dodge Charger and a 1970 Dodge Dar Swinger.
“And then I got married,’’ he joked. “That’s when you start buying pickup trucks and station wagons. Different lifestyle.’’
Maki said he was always into cars and had 47 years in the body shop business. “I started doing it when I was 19 years old working for Warren Erickson’’ at Warren’s Body Shop.
He and Barb bought the business from Erickson in 1986 and later moved the business to Chestnut Street and renamed it Chestnut Collision. Ralph retired at the end of 2012 and Barb still works full time at the business.
The 1941 Chevy Coupe is just one example of a car being worked on.
“It was a done car when I bought it (in 2002) but I’ve pretty much redone everything on it since I bought it,’’ according to Ralph Maki, who said it’s in his blood to upgrade or renovate something. “It’s been repainted already. All the glass has been replaced. It’s got a different drive train in it now.’’
The Makis are just one of the 125 couples in the car club that was founded by Glenn Dall, Milt Sundeen, Rick Stoehr, Dennis Lindberg and John Burja.
The club members get together each month for dinner and map out what they want to do each year. Their calendar has a show listed on it most days.
The Makis are on the road many of those days cruising down the road and relaxing in the Chevy Coupe.
“One summer we put 10,000 miles on it. We went to all the big major car shows,’’ Barb Maki said. “That was fun but too hot ... and humid.’’
The shows have enabled the couple to meet and build friendships with people from all over the world.
The Back to the 50’s Weekend car show at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds each June is one of the biggest shows, and Barb said they met some collectors from Australia there.
“They were so nice and so fun, he’s been there to see them,’’ she said of Ralph and Sundeen’s trip to Australia.
Regarding the Aussies, she said they sometimes spend $12,000 for a shipping container and spend the majority of the summer in the United States doing nothing but car shows.
In addition to traveling to different car shows, the club members start focusing on their own show in January and February, according to Ralph Maki.
“There’s a lot of months go by where there’s things being worked on and set up.’’
All the work will pay off today and Saturday.
The Makis are hoping their is one more weekend filled with summer weather, too.
“Boy, I hope it’s sunny,’’ Ralph Maki said.