The Classic, from the vantage points of Shane Constantinescu and Connie Brown
In Connie Brown’s opinion, the Woodburn Oregon show was a huge success, despite extremely hot weather. Volkswagen events are unique in many ways: it doesn’t matter what genre of car you have—a drag car, a rusty, slammed rat rod, a Cal Look, a bus, or a water-cooled—everyone is open minded, appreciative and accepting. Winning an event is not as important as inspiring someone to love Volkswagens as much as you do. I have to say, she really nailed it when she described what VW events and clubs are about in the minds of most of us.
The Countdown to the Classic in SoCal had begun. It was Tuesday June 7th and already the LGK Club’s Facebook Page was virtually buzzing with excitement. There were literally people counting down the hours until the event. It’s not just the Classic, but the journey, the stops along the way, and the familiar faces that seemed to have people excited. There were mentions of stopping for In’n’Out burgers on the road, mentions of the Cheesecake Factory, and people talking about looking forward to meeting up with old friends and making new ones. There was even an odd thread about someone donning a Speedo in anticipation, and an appreciative like from someone else. Meanwhile, in Gig Harbor, Washington, Connie and Jim Brown loaded up their trailer and were on their way to Orange County California. Connie bade goodbye to the water, the trees and the clear air and anticipated all that lays ahead at the VW Classic as they headed on down the highway.
Shane Constantinescu recounted how his decision to go to the Classic came about: “It has been a crazy year for me. Both kids moved back home; one was trying to get into med school, and the other was opening her own store. The past four years have been filled with travel and enjoying the empty nest life. Then, this winter, the oil fields crisis occurred, which affected my business and slowed everything down. So after many discussions, I decided to take a year off from racing and the California VW scene, as we needed to put our money towards other things. Then, about a month ago, I got a text from Mike Hole, showing me a drawing of the Classic poster. My car was placed front and center. I asked him if that was really the Classic poster. He confirmed that it was, and that it was also the T-shirt design. Then he said ‘We need you down here buddy.’ So with that I booked my flight.”
On Wednesday, June 8th, Connie checked in: “We made it through the long, long, long…and very boring drive through Northern California and stopped for the night in Gustine, CA. I entertained myself by looking for farm animals (especially goats), scoping out people’s properties for car hoarders, and playing “There’s Something Dead on the Road Ahead”. Tomorrow we conquer the Grapevine and enter the world of So Cal. I’ve been going to VW events off and on for 45 years, but this will be my first VW Classic. There are lots of events to go to leading up to the actual Classic: visiting the Bergs, the Schley Museum, Pierside Parts, the Octo Show, the toy show, the swap meet and then off to Knotts Berry Farm! I better take a nap!”
On Thursday, June 9th, Shane was sitting at the airport awaiting his flight. He was headed back to what some call the greatest VW show on earth. If you have never been to the Classic, it truly is a bucket list adventure. Shane’s visit was to entail flying in and meeting up with Jim and Connie Brown. Then the plan was to head off to see Dee Berg of Gene Berg Enterprises. Dee is an amazing special friend of Shane’s. From there he’d head back to the hotel and then off to dinner with the Hole family who own Bugformance and Pierside Parts and also host the Classic. On Friday morning the plan was to head to M2 toy cars to meet up with his friend Sean, and then have lunch at the Pierside Parts open house. From there they’d head to Fullerton, CA for the DKP car show in the middle of town. On Saturday morning it was to be Cars and Coffee in Huntingdon Beach and then he’d be off to Long Beach for the Octo show. After the Octo show there were open houses to visit everywhere and the Koch toy show. Of course Sunday was the big show, and he’d be up at 4:30 a.m. to help park the vendors and work the day at the show. Those were his plans in a nutshell. Let’s see how it all pans out.
Connie checked in again Thursday evening: “We had a great afternoon starting with visiting Gene Berg Enterprises. Shane had arranged to meet with Dee Berg to look at her VW toy and accessories collection. What a woman! And what a collection! Rooms and rooms filled with boxes and totes. She was so accommodating and gracious. It was such an honour to meet her and be allowed to see her collection. There are no words to describe all that she has!”
On Thursday afternoon, a flight landed in California and Shane got off the plane and things started off full tilt Shane ran down to Budget to rent a car. He informed them that he was a fastbreak member and asked which car was his. The kind lady informed him there was no car for him. What? No car? Apparently he failed to rent himself a car. So he asked if there were any cars available and she asked him what he would like. He told her he would like a BMW. Shortly thereafter, he hopped in the Hyundai and headed off to pick up Jim and Connie Brown from the hotel. They then headed off to the Bergs. He hadn’t been to the shop in ten years.
Dee had finally decided to sell her toy collection. When they arrived, Dee was waiting outside. There were two forty-foot containers full of toys that Shane had never seen before. He said “I was in shock, delight and sweating like a fat kid over a chocolate cake. I can say that because I’m fat.” Inside were floor-to-ceiling toys. He ended up picking up a few amazing items.
Then she took them inside and there were more toys in a show room. So after viewing that, she asked us if we wanted a shop tour. Heck, yeah, they did! They got a tour of the shop and then she said “Do you want to see the loft?” What? There was more? Up they went to see even more toys. Shane was in heaven and says if you haven’t met Dee, she is the sweetest person around.
“If you haven’t met Dee, she is the sweetest person around.”
From there they headed to Pierside Parts to see Mike and the team. Connie and Shane got their pictures taken on the bench. Then they headed back to the hotel. Mike called and asked Shane if he wanted to have dinner in Huntingdon Beach. Why yes,he did. So he says he’ll meet them there. When he arrived, Mike was talking to a woman with an English Bulldog. Mike told her Shane had one and they start sharing pictures. Then her boyfriend walked out and she tells him about Shane’s dog. When Shane turned around, he realizes it’s UFC fighter Nate Diaz. For Shane, it had to be the best Thursday he had had in some time. The day was over and he was exhausted. He knew Friday was going to be off the hook. It was time to get some rest.
Friday morning, June 10th, arrived early. Shane had to be at Pierside Parts at 6:30 a.m. to help set up for the open house. The vendors started arriving at 7 a.m. Ron Lummis, JayCee, IAP, Empi. Wow, this was a serious open house. Big names were showing up. The cars started rolling in at 8. Soon the parking lot was full, there was nowhere left to park. Shane was behind the counter trying to help as many customers as he could. They were lined up out the door wanting posters, tickets to the show, t-shirts and parts for their cars. Everyone was having pictures taken on the bench, it was chaos. But it was so much fun. He took a lot of pictures on that crazy skateboard bench. For those of you who don’t know about the bench, Greg, who started Pierside Parts, had a bench made out of skateboards. Anyone from far and wide, who would come in, would get their picture taken on the bench. After Greg passed away the tradition continued on. To this day, people still come to sit on the stickered skateboard bench.
After the open house, it was time for to go to the DKP meet in Garden Grove, CA. This is where they fill the downtown with as many VWs as can be stuffed into the Main Street area. There had to be 100+ cars, and not just any cars. These were top-of-the-line cars. There was music and food all along the street. It is such an amazing venue. The day ended early as it was decided a visit to the Cheesecake Factory was in order as well. Rob, Debbie, Art and Lucas Frose and Shane headed for comfort food.
For Connie, the Pierside Parts open house and the DKP meet were huge successes. The cruise had an overwhelming amount of cars and spectators. The cars were lined up around the corners on side streets to get parked. The one thing she did notice is that there were no slammed, patina-look cars. She wondered if that was a Northwest thing? She was looking forward to the Octo Show (wow ! an entire show of buses?!) on Saturday and the Schley’s.
Saturday morning, June 11th, started off bright and early. It was time to head out to the Octo bus show at the Long Beach stadium. Rob and Debbie Frose caught a ride with Shane, and Art and Lucas Frose went with Jim and Connie Brown. The first stop was Starbucks, so they could actually wake up. Then they were off to the show. The morning weather was drizzly and a little cold. They arrived at the show and the bus count was down from previous years, because of the weather. There were only sixty to seventy vendors and about the same amount of show buses. Now some might think seventy buses, wow!–but there were usually more.
Connie’s take on the day revealed a bit of a let down on her part. After the previous day’s event, she had hoped for more. The weather was rainy and it was drizzling. The Octo show was smaller and it seemed more like just a big swap meet. The Schley visit didn’t happen and the toy show wasn’t what she had hoped for. Connie and Jim decided to head off to Knott’s Berry Farm and Huntingdon Beach, hoping to finish the day on a high note. They were also hoping for better weather the following day.
There was a definite theme in footwear at all the events.
For Shane, It was a tough day because there were so many treasures to be had, except he had already run out of room to bring them home. So after they walked the show, they headed back to the hotel so Shane could head to TJ Maxx to buy a suitcase to transport everything home. The Froses headed off to a Porsche museum and Shane returned from the store with his new suitcase, only to be picked up by Bob and Larry Hole. They said they were off to the DBK barbeque. This was the home of the car builder, Pip. They arrived to see two of the baddest Harley Davidsons Shane had ever seen, parked out front. They went into the back yard to be welcomed by about twelve of the most custom VWs he had ever seen in his life. Each car was worth well over $100,000. This was totally “next-level” stuff. And their hashtag was #notyourordinaryshit. After the barbeque, they decided to head back to the hotel to take and take in the toy show. It was relatively small, but there were sure some gems there. That evening, it was decided that round two of the Cheesecake Factory was in order, and then it was time to head to bed, because Sunday was going to be an early day.
Sunday, June 12th, the Classic. For Connie the weekend had come to a close. What started out as a gloomy drizzly day ended up being quite pleasant. According to people who had attended the Classic in previous years, attendance was down, due in part to conflicting events. At the close of the event it was announced that in the year ahead, things would be different, so it appears that the effect of the conflict and people’s comments were duly noted and taken to heart.
Connie believes that what sets the Classic apart from other events is the presence of the “Old Vanguard”, people and businesses that have been around for many, many years: the Bergs, the Schleys, Ron Fleming, Empi, Scat, the Hole family and DKP to name a few. Having quality, high-end builders like Buddy Hale and pip Hancock there, with their cars, really brought things up a few notches. One milestone that was celebrated this year was the 50th anniversary of the original BRM wheels. The venue at the fairgrounds was great. There was lots of room, clean bathrooms, food vendors, and a stage with a live band. From her vantage point, Connie could see the cars drive in. Regardless of the car they were driving and despite the gloomy weather, everyone had smiles on their faces. She loved seeing kids in the back seats smiling and waving as they arrived.
The variety of cars was impressive. There were high-end builds, off-road cars, water-cooled, race cars, vintage builds and daily drivers. There were so many interesting things to see and experience. Everyone was there! Everyone is a family at a Volkswagen event. Everyone is connected by their love and passion for the cars. Everyone helps each other out and supports each other. These attributes make going to an event so enjoyable and worthwhile.
Back at the hotel, on Sunday June 12th, Shane was awoken by the phone. He struggled to make his way across the King-sized bed to answer it. Finally, he grabbed the phone and said an exhausted “Hello?” There was no one at the other end of the line. It was 4 a.m. already and time to get up and head to the fairgrounds. He got in his car to make his way there. As he got off the freeway and rounded the corner, he saw vehicles already lined up to get in. Seriously people? It was 4:45 a.m. on a Sunday. He got to the gate and had to convince security to let him in. He told them he was working at the show and asked if they would please let him in? The security guard asked how he would know that what Shane was saying was true. Shane thought to himself that the t-shirt saying “Staff” might be a good indication. He convinced the guard to let him in and headed over to where Larry and Mike were busy setting up tables.
Soon the gates were open and the swappers started pouring in. The vendors started to arrive. Shane’s job was to park vendors this year. Half the vendors were in and the show cars were starting to arrive. The weather was once again not so good, and the car show cars were not pouring in as fast as they liked. Before he knew it, it was ten o’clock and the show was in full swing. The live band was playing on the stage. Spectators were all taking in the rides.
For Shane, one highlight was having the artist who drew his car on the poster and t-shirt autograph all the posters for the past four or five that had one of his cars on them, as well as his show shirt. He was a bit of a celebrity himself and was being asked to sign a couple of posters. At 2:30, it was trophy time, and it was great to see Jim Brown win yet another award, this one for “Best Cal Looker”. After that Jim and Connie took him to their favourite taco joint for dinner. They came back and Shane helped Jim load his car for their trip home. Then he went back to the hotel to get some sleep.
All in all it was a great trip to the Classic, like they all were. And he can’t wait until next year.