Arts and Entertainment

Carnation Fourth | Hot Rods & Harleys show highlights wild wheels with help from late Pete's Club owner Don Lovett

The H & H Ladies from left, Amy Bomar, Melanie Smith, and Michelle Petree, are promoting both the Hot Rods & Harleys & 4x4s show this year, and a fund raiser for colon cancer research during the Carnation 4th of July celebration.  - Courtesy Photo
The H & H Ladies from left, Amy Bomar, Melanie Smith, and Michelle Petree, are promoting both the Hot Rods & Harleys & 4x4s show this year, and a fund raiser for colon cancer research during the Carnation 4th of July celebration.
— image credit: Courtesy Photo

John Petree will let the experts track how many years Carnation has highlighted hot rods and Harleys during its July 4 festivities. The important thing for him is that it’s still going on after 16 years.

“There’s a lot of talent in the Valley here... a lot of these guys are working as designers and engineers, and doing this in their spare time. People need to see it,” he said by telephone last week.

That talent is on display every Independence Day in Carnation, at the custom car and bike show, Hot Rods and Harleys. This year, Petree’s second as coordinator, the show has also been opened up to custom 4-by-4’s. As long as it’s custom, it’s welcome at the show.

“This is going to be interesting,” says Petree, looking at the list of 30 pre-registered vehicles. “I’ve got an ‘08 Mustang that is one of a kind.” There’s also an articulated Ford Bronco “that is just unbelievable,” a ‘66 Dart, a truggy (truck/buggy combo), a ‘62 Impala, and a 1917 T-bucket.

“There’s going to be some cool cars, but I haven’t heard too much from the Rat Rodders,” he sighed. The rat rod, he explains, is one of the original hot rods, built in the ‘30s, mainly of parts from other cars. “You could think of it as a green car,” he said.

You could also think, with Petree’s interest in custom cars, that he’s an annual exhibitor in Hot Rods and Harleys. Truth is, he’s been a spectator only until last year. The 4th of July committee was struggling to find a new coordinator for the show, and time was running out.

“It was April and they were still looking for someone to promote the show,” Petree said, so he volunteered.

He refers to the 2010 show a lot as a “learning experience,” and adds “This year I’m actually prepared for this kind of thing!”

He started working on the show in January, planning for more and different ways of promoting of the show. One of his visions was an old-fashioned pin-up poster featuring “the H&H Ladies,” as they called themselves. The girls got into ‘50s-style costumes and character, and photographer Hannah Marie Schmaley photographed them in a classic car warehouse, Jim Green’s Performance Center in Monroe.

“If you like pastel colors and old hot rods, that’s where you go to walk around and let your jaw just drop,” Petree said.

The photos were turned into heavy, glossy posters that have been distributed throughout the Puget Sound Area.

Petree was excited to tell one of the show’s main sponsors, Pete’s Club Grill owner Don Lovett, about his plans for the posters early on this year, and he got the response he wanted “Oh, awesome!”

He had a great working relationship with Lovett. “We agreed on everything,” Petree said. “It was just a meeting of the minds, and then he passed away.”

Lovett died in April, a year after his diagnosis of colon cancer, making this year’s show special to Petree.

“It is and it isn’t a memorial,” he said.

Some aspects of the show, like the Pete’s “goody bag” with limited edition T-shirts and other things every car guy needs, and the H&H Ladies offers to pose with exhibitors’ vehicles for a donation to colon cancer research, are being done in memory of Lovett, who was an avid supporter of the show every year.

If there was any doubt that Pete’s would continue sponsoring the show, Lovett’s wife Karen Marie dispelled them immediately.

“He passed away on Friday or Saturday, and Monday night, I received a phone call,” Petree said. Marie, still grieving, was on the line. “And she said, ‘John, this is what Don wanted. Don’t stop.’ So I was motivated—out of my way, this is going to get done!”

The 2011 show promises to be much bigger than last year’s, which showcased 60 cars. The cars and bikes will be on display from noon to 4 p.m. in the Bank of America parking lot, 4760 Tolt Avenue, Carnation. Judging will be done by 1:30 p.m. and awards will be handed out at 2:30 p.m.

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