Hot rods shift into high gear

Annual car show honors area mans’ life and love of machines

Posted: Wednesday, July 19, 2006


  Spectators inspect the hardware on display at the Progress Days car show. Clarion file photo

Spectators inspect the hardware on display at the Progress Days car show.

Clarion file photo

Do you like cars? Than get your motor running for this weekend’s Bill Banta Memorial Show and Shine.

This outdoor auto event, which takes place from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday at Great Bear Ford in Soldotna, will feature dozens of vehicles.

“Anyone could come out and have fun at this show,” said Erica Williamson, a Progress Days coordinator with the Soldotna Chamber of Com-merce.

Williamson explained that while motorheads will be able to come exchange information about parts, pieces and paint jobs, novices also are welcome, regardless of how little they know about cars and trucks.

“All you have to know is which one you like and vote on it,” she said in regard to the process of selecting the winner of the people’s choice award — one of several contest categories at the show.

There will also be a best on two wheels award for motorcycles entered, a sponsor’s choice award selected by Great Bear Ford, a longest distance award given to the contestant who drove the furthest to have their vehicle in the show, and the most prestigious honor of the show — the Bill Banta Memorial Award.

“That’s the big one. It’s basically a best in show award,” Williamson said.

The winner of this award is chosen by the family of the late Bill Banta — who the award, and the show itself, are named after.

“My dad, who passed away in 2003, worked for the city for 20-plus years and he was always involved in car shows and anything related to cars, so they decided to rename it after him in his memory,” said Banta’s daughter, Michelle Banta-McKay.

“He was instrumental in getting the show started, promoting it and supporting it. It was one of his passions and he helped grow the idea to fruition for the whole community,” Williamson added.

Banta-McKay said the family tries to select a vehicle that Bill would have enjoyed seeing be the winner.

But other than that, any year, make or model vehicle has potential.

“It can be a muscle car, an antique, a truck or even a modern-day car. We just try to select one that could bring out the car enthusiast in anyone,” she said.

Selecting a vehicle that fits this descriptions is more difficult than it sounds, according to Banta-McKay.

“People come and show cars they’ve poured their hearts, souls and bank accounts into,” she said.

However, this close competition makes the show that much more enjoyable for those who attend, Banta-McKay said.

“There’s not another organized event like this in the area that brings so many people together in one place at one time,” she said.

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