By Tom Christian
I rode down from the mountains very early to be ready to cover this year’s Charity Car and Bike Show. For my plan to work, I needed to arrive at Top-Line Industrial Supply even earlier to watch them set up. Riding into the parking lot there were already a hundred cars and a lot of the vendors up and running. I could already see that this year’s event was going to be bigger and better than ever from the time it got started Saturday morning, as all the folks came in very early to set up to get the day started.
The first thing you could see from the south entrance was the Bling Devas MC setting up a kitchen that sold mac & cheese hamburgers for $5.00, and they were a big hit. Every minute more and more cars, trucks and motorcycles rolled in to the show and began to set up. There were a lot of newcomers this year. It was very rewarding to witness all the people enjoying this great event that grew bigger every hour. It would take over an hour to walk through the parking lots to visit all the vendors and check out all the beautiful cars, trucks and bikes, and even a boat and a fire truck next to the sand rails. Motorcycles were on the south end of the event and caught everybody’s eyes. There were cars and vendors grouped accordingly, with some even tucked in between the buildings like little small town side streets off the front parking lot. The stage was also near the center, but not super close to the vendors, so you could talk with vendors easily, and still go closer to the stage and enjoy the music.
Sam’s nieces have been the pin-up gals for this event as long as I know. The two work together, posing for photo opportunities for everybody who wants a picture taken with them alongside their vehicles or motorcycles. The cutest part is watching how the young kids act when their mothers ask for the girls to pose with them next to a car, it is so exciting for the kids!
The way someone can tell the Cantacessi girls apart is: Toni is the tall one and must have grown three feet over the three years that I have known them and she is fifteen years old, while Shelby is seventeen years old. How cute these gals are when they have their photos taken with the cars and bikes. I must have shot a hundred or so photos of them with the various vehicles as we walked up and down the rows of cars and off-roaders.
I got to interview a spokesperson from Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys who I met earlier at Laughlin River Run. She is a stunt rider, has ridden motorcycles for over fifteen years, and is very knowledgeable about her sport. Randie Raige and her husband perform motorcycle stunts together. Randie was the Guest Celebrity Judge for the motorcycles. I asked many questions about what it takes to be a judge in this arena. Such as, “How would you judge a bike like this, when everything is completely custom?” I was impressed as I learned how much Randie really knew about motorcycles and custom built bikes. She took me to school while doing a live feed on Facebook. I hope it was helpful to those like me to know what goes into being a judge for this event and others. We might get lucky and have her and her husband perform a few stunts next year. I want to thank her for the bottles of water that she gave me when it was very hot in Laughlin this year.
As the judges walked up and down the rows of vehicles, judging their assigned classes, the spectators were anticipating and speculating who was going to win the Best of Show awards for the motorcycles and cars. Everybody was enjoying the live music from Harley and the Pirates. It was a good mix of classic rock, country, and modern hits. Lots of music that everyone sang along with as the judges were performing their duties. The attendees enjoyed super weather while being entertained with great music waiting for the big moment when Sam would announce the winners.
The awards ceremony was scheduled for 3pm but there were so many entries this year it took more time to tally up the results. Sam was worried that he was going be in hot water with the people who had waited so patiently. But there wasn’t a single complaint from the group about going over the 3pm deadline. This was a very pleasant crowd with lots of love from everybody and you could see it in Sam’s demeanor as he thanked them for their patience. Sam started things off with the raffles. The first big raffle item was the plasma cutter donated by Weldor’s Supply & Steel Company in Banning, which went to Manuel from Colton. More raffle prizes followed, going to happy winners.
The Best of Show for Bikes went to Dave Martinez from Bakersfield with his 2014 H-D Custom Street Glide; he put about $50,000 into this bike. The picture of his family with his Best of Show bike was just what a family photo should look like; beautiful! Dave’s bike also received the Brian Membrino Memorial Award. Brian was Sam’s friend and employee who passed away five years ago. The bike receiving this award represents the one that most closely mirrors a bike that Brian might build.
The Best of Show for Cars went to Tony Gomez from Perris with his 1960 Chevrolet Impala that was killer to see. Tony invested $140,000 in this car and says that he would not take a million dollars for it. It was also the favorite for one of Sam’s nieces so we spent some time taking pictures with it. Tony also said he is starting a car customizing and restoration business called Lakeside Customs in Perris, scheduled to open the Monday after the Top-Line show.
Strolling through the crowds, visiting along the way, it was very cool to hear how everybody loved what this event represented. The proceeds go to Carol’s Kitchen to help feed those in need, especially our homeless veterans. With no questions asked, a person could go in and get a warm meal to help them get through the day. Event Founder Sam Baldi’s son told him about this charity over six years ago, and it became the inspiration for this show. It has been a super ride for all of us over the years, and realizing how much his family, staff and all the participants are invested with this event. Sam’s family does much of the setup and teardown for this event, and Sam mentioned that their day started at 2am.
As Sam and I were closing the big gates, we chatted about the conversations that we both overheard throughout the day. The overwhelming trend was that people loved the show and intended to come back next year and bring their crews, friends and families. Sam was sporting a big happy smile, knowing that this car and bike show was very successful. The real evidence of this success and hard work came when Sam called me with the amount of donations received from this event, and that number was $9,100. This will help with a lot of meals for our community and our veterans. I am going to try to get more raffles like the ones from Cafe 247 in Lucerne Valley for Tom’s Quick Throttle omelette or any other breakfast that they offer. It will be fun getting participation from other restaurants, donut or yogurt shops.
A.C. Propane Co., Agriscape Inc., All Around Rock Supply LLC, Baldi Bros., Beaumont Auto Repair Specialist, Bling Devas MC, CESC Fabrications, First Place Powder Coating, M. Brey Electric Inc., North County Sand & Gravel, Pacific States Transportation, Precision Material Handling, Quick Throttle Magazine, R3 Fabrication, Red Beard Targets, Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys, Truck-Works, Walter’s Transmission Shop, Weldor’s Supply & Steel, and West Coast Electric.