Gill car show tradition still rolling after 10 years

  • A screen grab from a video taken during a Rosner Race Cars Cruise Night in June 2013.

Recorder Staff
Published: 7/20/2016 8:11:27 PM

GILL — Dennis “Chu-Wee” Underwood had a summer routine. On the third Thursday of every month, he would drive his 1964 Chevrolet Impala up to Rosner Race Cars, an auto parts store on Dole Road, and spend hours talking with local residents who share his love for classic cars.

Ten years ago, the Thursday night get-together was started by Fred Rosner, owner of Rosner Race Cars.

“It just started out as a half dozen of us guys getting together on a Thursday night and it just kept growing,” Rosner said, adding that he chose Thursday so his event wouldn’t interfere with other local car shows.

Rosner, now in his 80s, decided last year to pass the tradition on to Underwood.

“I really wanted to carry it on,” Underwood, 61, said.

Underwood now runs the monthly car show under a new name, the Riverside Cruise-In, after his own business, Riverside Radiator, but said he keeps the event largely the same as it had been under Rosner’s leadership. The show is held by the riverside at Schuetzen Verein, 55 Barton Cove Road, from roughly 4 to 8 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month from May to September, and is free to attend. This summer’s upcoming shows are scheduled for today and on Aug. 18 and Sept. 15.

At the last show, held June 16, Underwood said he stopped counting at 200 cars.

Even poor weather hasn’t kept participants away, Underwood said. The May 19 show was preceded by rain and heavy thunderstorms, and hail was predicted.

“I really didn’t think we were going to get much of a turnout at all, but I had 107 cars show up,” Underwood said. Rosner’s final show last year had a particularly notable turnout with more than 400 vehicles.

All vehicles must be manufactured prior to 1974 to participate. Underwood asks that no dogs and no alcoholic beverages be brought to the car show, though Schuetzen Verein offers a cash bar, as well as hamburgers, hot dogs and French fries.

Underwood conducts raffles where participants can win prizes donated by auto parts stores and dealerships. A 50/50 raffle benefits the Schuetzen Verein.

Though the car show has become a local tradition, Underwood said he always sees some new faces and new cars. Many participants come from as far as Springfield, Pittsfield and Worcester, as well as Vermont and New Hampshire.

Underwood said the show’s steady number of participants demonstrates the popularity of car shows and the high number of passionate car enthusiasts.

“Right now, I think you could go to a car show every night of the week in New England,” he said. “They’re getting more and more popular.”

For more information about the Riverside Cruise-In car shows, contact Underwood at Riverside Radiator at 413-863-4049.

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