June 1995 The first car show was started in Veteran's Park on the West-side of Bay City. It was a fundraising event for a local charity putting on a "Offshore Boat Race" and Wilson "Red" Hall's love of hot rods. The car show would be free to the public, and would raise money by charging an admission fee to the car owners. This would give us enough money to buy a few trophies. 25 cars showed up. The weather was beautiful and everyone present agreed that we should do another. We didn't have an official name yet, but one of the attendees said we should have a T-Shirt next year. Steve Pischel became our committee person.
June 1996 The second year we had 65 vehicles arrive, and we expanded by having car show t-shirts, and food vendors. The charity we were trying to help was having trouble raising funds, and it looked like the "Bay Offshore Boat Race" club might not be around for 1997. We were growing and everyone was excited for next year. We decided to name ourselves the "Bay City Car Show". How original is that?
June 1997 I was right... the offshore boat race didn't gather the funding necessary to put on a race for the community; but we had now formed an organization, with committees, and decided it was "full speed ahead". Mike Gerish joined as our trophy committee chair. We started advertising, getting sponsors, had t-shirts printed, and contacted the "Boy Scouts of America" to see if they wanted to become a food vendor. That was right up their ally, so they joined us. Weather was great and about 100 custom cars, hot rods, trucks, and assorted vehicles showed up.
June 1998 By now we had a group of people. Warren and Cindy Myrick joined us, and our group was on a roll! The group decided that if we could get more sponsors, we could then do more advertising... which would bring more vehicles to the show. We approached a local car dealership, "Graff Chevrolet", and they became our major sponsor. We were now called the "Graff Chevrolet Car Show". We were now meeting once a month to plan for the car show, and things really began to take off! Almost 150 vehicles showed up...WOW!
June 1999 The car show committee vision was to put on a "Free" event for the community; by promoting the love of antique, customized, and original restored automobiles and miscellaneous vehicles. It was now time to find a charity we could help. "Red" lost his mother to a battle with cancer in 1998, and his wife Sonia lost her grandmother later that year, so they approached the American Cancer Society. The group loved the idea! Everyone on the committee agreed...we all would be touched by cancer in some way in our lives. So it was decided...we were going to raise money for cancer research. Even though we got our first rain on Sunday, we still raised $2,000 for the "American Cancer Society". We were now a two day event....Saturday and Sunday. 150 vehicles enter to support the cause.
July 2000 We lost our usual date in June and our location in Veterans Park to another charity event that booked the park before us. We looked at various locations, and it was decided to move the event to downtown Bay City in the streets. Tom Tabor a downtown business owner joined the organization, and together we approached the Downtown Development and the City Manager about closing off some streets. There was an event scheduled for the second weekend in July called "Sidewalk Days". This would be perfect...another goal was added to our list...help bring money into the downtown area by bringing a free car show to the public right there in the middle of it! Marty and Margie Foss came on board, along with the local "Mustang Club". They all rolled up their sleeves, and pitched in to help. We also had a new major sponsor step forward, "Be Cool Radiators". They had been involved in 1998, but now asked if they could be the prime sponsor. Graff Chevrolet had suggested they were looking to do other things, so we now became the "Be Cool Car Show". Weather was great and we had almost 200 vehicles show up. We raised $5,000 for the American Cancer Society. We were proud as peacocks!
July 2001 We were approached by the Bay Arts Council to put on a "50's Concert" on Saturday night of the car show. Each car owner would get one free ticket per car show entry. The Bay Arts Council was banking on us to be the attraction in addition to the music. We encountered a couple of snags that year. Parking became a problem because we didn't think about the fact that all the hot rodders would want to leave after the Saturday show to polish their cars for the Sunday awards. The concert only attracted enough spectators to break-even. Vendors were now knocking on our doors, weather was good, and 240 vehicles came out for the two-day event! Downtown businesses were elated with all the foot traffic we brought. And, most importantly, we gave the "American Cancer Society" a whopping $6,000!
July 2002 "Be Cool"'s owner, Roger Rosebush and his wife Debbie, were getting very involved with the car show by bringing ideas, attending meetings, and promoting us by attracting his friends & vehicles from the racing world. He suggested to the committee that we have a car cruze (mis-spelled at his request) ending at his business ("Be Cool") on Friday night. Little did we know they were going to throw the "Party" of the year! They had tents, music, food, drinks, and lots of fun. However, the cruze had major problems...cars got lost, jumped line, ran red lights, and it was chaos! But the car show was growing....almost 275 cars, and the weather was beautiful. $6,500 was given to the cancer society that year.
July 2003 A new group of car enthusiasts came along...the "Bay Valley Corvette Club". They wanted to bring their club to the show. This brought an additional 50 cars. We tried another cruze, on Thursday evening, with the destination a local resort called "Bay Valley Resort". It was great once we got to "Bay Valley", but the cruze was a flop. Same issues as the previous year...chaos. Yet, we set another record for us: $7,500 contribution to the "American Cancer Society".
July 2004 The additional car clubs were really getting involved. Everything was running smoothly. We decided to drop the Sunday show for lack of interest. Over 325 vehicles, and a few specialty vehicles. Weather was great....lots of sun shine. We raised $10,000 in 2004 for cancer research!
July 2005 The Corvette group was having internal issues within their ranks and decided to split off and have their own show on the west side of Bay City. Henry Schumann and his son Michael joined our committee, along with Jeff Bennett from Midland. Even though we lost the Corvettee group we still managed to keep our vehicle count to around 300. "Be Cool" parties were becoming the event of the year. The news media was starting to view us as a real event, and was giving us coverage. We were trying all kinds of marketing ideas...billboards, full color posters, flyers, radio, TV and anything else we could think of. This year's donation was $10,500.
July 2006 The committee continued to meet monthly. After "Red" participated in a car cruise in AuGres we decided to give it another try. This time we contacted local police to lead the cruze, and we marked the course with lots of signage.. It went great! The cruze destination was downtown. So, we had streets blocked off on Friday nights, and Saturday. This was putting a little strain on the downtown businesses. We had around 100 vehicles show up for the cruze, and 300+ on Saturday. We contributed another $10,500.
July 2007 The cruze was so successful, we decided to do another. This time it was decided that the ending destination would be at "Be Cool", instead of downtown. The downtown business owners were happier, because now they had parking for their customers on Friday night. Now the streets in Essexville were closed on Friday night...and no one minded a bit! 125 vehicles showed up in the parking lot of K-Mart (the starting point of the cruze). Cars were showing up 2-3 hours early... creating quite a sight. The route was published in the paper, and people along the cruze route were gathering in their yards to watch us go by. Weather was beautiful on Friday, but then Saturday morning we woke up to rain. Our attendees were hardy souls and over 250 vehicles showed up in spite of the weather. It pretty much rained all day, but still a couple thousand people came out to walk around in the rain. This year we dipped into our reserve and still made a donation of $10,000 to the "American Cancer Society".
July 2008 The cruze was on a roll with over 150 vehicles showing up to a wonderful sunny day. Destination "Be Cool" for a street party. Saturday morning we wake up to clouds, and showers. Still almost 275 vehicles show up. We were forced to cut back our donation, but still managed to raise $7,500. We had a rule of only one car dealership as a sponsor, and our car dealer sponsor was Dunlop Pontiac. The owner Mike Beattie was involved and was able to work deals with GM and would bring special Pontiac proto types, and race cars to the show each year. Sadly General Motors decided to do away with Pontiac, and Michigan's oldest dealership was closed. This opened the door, and it wasn't open long. The new sponsor came on the scene with a love of vehicles and an active interest...Mike Thelen from the "Thelen Group".
July 2009 The sun was shining and just over 200 cars showed up Friday afternoon for the car cruze. The parking lot was full, and enthusiasm was high! Saturday brought big crowds of both spectators and hot rods. 375 + vehicles in attendance, and over 5,000 spectators. Thanks to Roger Rosebush, we had world-class dragsters showing up, including the first "Riddler Award" winner. (Prestigious Annual Event held at the "Detroit Cobo Hall"). The show was dedicated to David Rosebush, son of Roger and Deb Rosebush. Illness took him at very young age. We proudly contributed $7,500 to the "American Cancer Society".
July 2010 This year brought more tragedy. One of our committee members died from cancer, our own charity. Talk about bringing it home! We had banners made with her picture and name, and "SHE" led our cruze. 256 vehicles came out to drive for Lova that day! It was an incredible site! And as usual, we finished the day with a street party at "Be Cool". We woke up to sunshine and excitedly prepared for the Saturday show. With the nice weather we hoped we would have a good turnout. To our surprise...431 vehicles registered! The most ever! We were able to contribute $10,500 this year to the "American Cancer Society".
This brings us up to current day... with one little change...after all these years, the chairman and founder, Wilson "Red" Hall, and his wife, Sonia, are stepping down. There comes a time when it benefits all to hand over the reins. The most rewarding benefits to this change are yet to be seen. Fresh and exciting ideas will grow, and each member of the committee will gain a new sense of involvement. The basic core and concept are in place for providing a much needed event in our community. And for me, there is not only a sense of pride, but a benefit I am anxious to enjoy. I will be riding in our car cruze in one of my hot rods, without feeling guilty, because I will just be a participant.
July 2011 The Car Show rang in with a bit of uncertainty with a new show coordinator, Mike Thelen from Thelen Auto Group. Thankfully, the entire car show committee returned and made the transition period seamless. This year, we decided to begin the cruze at Be Cool, and because of limited space, we decided to end the cruze at Bay Lanes Bowling Center on the West side. Our hopes were to expand the Car Cruze and street party. The cruse turned out to be a huge success with over 270 vehicles and over 1,000 people at the street party. With the weather Saturday, 80 degrees and sunny, the car show on the streets of beautiful downtown Bay City turned out to be a huge success also. We had 500 cars total we set a record for the car show. We were able to contribute $15,000.00 to the American Cancer Society, which also set a new record for the car show.
July 2012 The Car Show and Cruze committee set some very aggressive goals to raise $20, 000.000 for the American Cancer Society. With a more aggressive advertising and marketing campaign the Cruse and Show came off without a hitch. There was at least 270 cars in the Cruze and over 1,500 people who attended the street party. Saturday was 70 degrees and sunny, which made a perfect day for the car show. We again had over 500 vehicles involved in the Cruze and Car show and approximately 15,000 people packed in the downtown streets to see all of the cars, trucks, and motorcycles. We also exceeded our goal and donated $22,000.00 to the American Cancer Society. Which brings our total donations to over $135,000.00.
July 2013 We started out a little wet and windy, Cruze registration opened at 3:00pm and the year's worst thunderstorm blew through at 3:05pm. With great resolve, the car show committee kept the Cruze rolling. Even with spotty rain throughout the evening, over 200 vehicles Cruzed for a cure. Saturday's forecast called for rain in the afternoon and thankfully it held off until the awards ceremony. Despite the forecast we had 400 rides in the show and easily 15,000 people roaming the downtown streets looking at the cool cars. Exhaust Rapping and Pit Crew events had more participants and spectators than ever. Regardless of the inclement weather and thanks to our show participants and sponsors we raised $23,000.00 for the American Cancer Society.