Visalia Car Show honors 75 anniversary of local car club

Visalia Breakfast Lions Club gears up for annual car show

The Visalia Breakfast Lions Club invites the community to participate their annual car show and celebrates The Vapor Trails Car Club

VISALIA – As the months fly by and warmer weather is on the horizon, The Visalia Breakfast Lions Club is gearing up for the 34th annual Downtown Visalia Car Show.

On May 20, the Visalia Breakfast Lions Club will be hosting what they hope to be their biggest car show event yet. There will be over 300 cars lining the streets of downtown Visalia from Willis Street to Bridge Street and even down some of the side streets. Participants will also find several vendors, car related and not, as well as a craft fair with about 40 vendors.  This year, the show will be celebrating a special feature, The Vapor Trailers Car Club’s 75th anniversary.

“Vapor Trailers and the Lions Club have had a long relationship going back to the early 1950s,” the club’s secretary/treasurer Jim Martzen said. “To be a part of the car show and a part of the community we feel very, very honored and very grateful for what they’re doing for us.”

The car show event is free to the public and will take place on May 20 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. There will be prizes given to participants for best engine, best interior, best paint, best stock appearing, best overall, best motorcycle and Lion’s choice according to Van Horn. He said the cars are chosen not only by appearance, but the story behind the car is also taken into consideration. Members of the Lion’s Club who are judging will have their hands full with so many cars in attendance. Because there will be hundreds of cars brought by individuals, there are usually 40 different car manufacturers represented. There will be eye candy for all car enthusiasts.

Adding to the hundreds of cars, members of The Vapor Trailers Car Club will be bringing around 40 cars according to Martzen. Members of the club have been bringing cars to this car show since it began 34 years ago. They will be bringing three or four cars that have been around since the group was started in the late 1940s as well as any car that has previously won at the Visalia Car Show. This year, the group is working hard to complete an original dragster car from the early years of their club as well.

“It’s a tribute to [a dragster] that was in an article in the Hot Rod Magazine in 1962 when they honored the Visalia Vapor Trailers,” Martzen said.

The Vapor Trailers Car Club was started by a group of guys who wanted to find a way to legally drag race. Martzen said the group was able to get a local police officer on board and eventually members of the city council. The group officially formed in 1948 and became a nonprofit in 1951. They were eventually able to begin organizing drag races at the Visalia Airport according to Martzen. He said the Vapor Trailers and the Lion’s Club have been working together since those drag races.

“When they held drag races out at the airport, Vapor Trailers would operate the concession stand, the first race, and then the following races were turned over to the Lions Club,” Martzen said.

Even though drag racing has become less popular throughout the years, the group has remained together. The Vapor Trailers is one of the longest standing car clubs sanctioned by the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) according to Martzen. To this day they remain all about cars and the community. They continue to donate to organizations like the Honor Flight, CASA and Martzen said they are going to start offering scholarships for high school students again.

The Visalia Breakfast Lions club invites everyone to come admire the cars throughout the day, but anyone can start their morning off with a pancake breakfast put on by a local Boy Scout Troop. With the help of the Visalia Breakfast Lions Chuck Wagon and all proceeds are given back to the boy scouts. Locals who wish to come will have the opportunity to experience all the hard work that has been put into the cars. At 2:30 p.m. winners of the day will be announced and the owners of the winning cars will be asked to drive to the Visalia Breakfast Lions Club (VBL) booth for pictures and awards.

The winners’ of the 2022 car show were:

  1.     Best of Show Paint – 1979 Chevy Blazer – Visalia
  2.     Best of Show Lion’s Choice – 1932 Ford Woodie – Visalia
  3.     Best of Show Engine – 1933 Ford Coupe – Visalia
  4.     Best of Show Interior – 1964 Lincoln Continental – Visalia
  5.     Best of Show Original Appearing – 1940 Buick Special – Lindsay
  6.     Best of Show Modified – 1964 Chevy Nova – Exeter

Pre- registration for those who wish to bring their own car is $40 and is open now until Thursday May 18th at 5 p.m. For those who wish to register on the day of the event, it will cost $45. Participants will check-in on the 20th between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m.

Those bringing their cars to check in on the day of the event will use Main Street heading east from Conyer or Johnson. Willis and all streets heading east down to Santa Fe Ave. will not have Main St access. The public is asked to please not move any barricades. Van Horn said something unique to the Downtown Visalia Car Show is that they will take a photo of each participant and print it out on a plaque of sorts. Photos will be taken in the morning at registration and will be ready to pick up at 12:30 at the VBL booth, which is located across from Visalia Brewing Co (VBC). Registrants are asked to keep their car in the show until 3pm.

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