The little town of Elkton, Minnesota, about 100 miles southeast of Minneapolis/St. Paul, is typical of the rural upper Midwest. A city water tower and grain elevator reach toward the sky; there is one commercial block of Main Street, with a post office, bank, restaurant, and City Hall. For 364 days a year, the residents of Elkton enjoy a quiet life. But for the last eight years, on a Saturday in July, the town turns into a Mopar-oriented bonanza, with cars and stars coming in from all over the country.
Well-known musclecar enthusiast, Fred Engelhart, makes his base of operations in Elkton, and his show-Engelhart Performance Customer Appreciation Day-officially runs from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, but by Friday morning, cars were already starting to roll into Elkton for the event. Held on the main road through town and around a local park, there were hundreds of cars on hand this year with the big name cars displayed both indoors and out.
In memory of Ronnie Sox, the most impressive collection of Sox & Martin machines ever asse
...the '71 NHRA World Championship car...
...and a '74 Colt...
For 2006, a special group honoring the '68 Dodge and Plymouth Super Stock packages was formulated. Fred, art magnate Jim Kramer, historians Mark Janaky and Dell Jones (who run the '68 Hemi Super Stock Registry), and Dick Towers of Match Race Madness all played a critical role in letting car owners nationwide know about the event. Fred does not advertise nationally, but as July began, it was becoming evident there would be a lot of people coming to Minnesota on Saturday, July 29. this was the largest gathering of real Hemi race iron since the last reunion at Carlisle in 1993.
As the sun rose hot and high in the Minnesota sky that Saturday, there were over thirty original Hurst-built Darts and Barracudas lining the street, ranging from three Sox & Martin cars to an unrestored Dart brought in by Oklahoma car locator Reed Koeppe. The Dick Landy and Sox & Martin '71 Pro Stockers were side by side, with Lee Smith's '65 Plymouth right across the street. Several cars were united with their original owners, some for the first time in years-Jack Thomas, Larry Griffith, Dick Oldfield, and Don Grotheer among them.
...a '67 B-Body...
...the '68 that was run during the '74 boycott...
Butch Leal, the California Flash, was on hand. While there was a Leal '68 car on display,
Inside one of Fred's big storage buildings, racers and celebrities from the musclecar era were on hand as well, with tables along one wall and historic iron on the other. Arlen Vanke, Butch Leal, Dick Landy, Buddy Martin, Diane Sox, Judy Lilly, and Linda Vaughn were busy signing autographs and greeting fans.