Indiana's role in automotive history – and the collectors who dedicate themselves to keeping it alive – are taking center stage at the Gateway Mile Auto Fest, which is returning for its second year in downtown Elkhart.
This year's theme is “Indiana Built Cars,” which pays tribute to makes and models – such Duesenbergs, Elcars and Studebakers, for example – that were built in the Hoosier State, and helped establish its transportation legacy. Gateway's return also coincides with Indiana's bicentennial celebration of its 200-year history, giving those who attend another opportunity to salute the Hoosier State's automotive contributions, as www.elkhartcounty2016.com notes on its website summary: “Buggies weren’t invented in Elkhart County, but recreational vehicles were.” (The event has been endorsed by the Indiana Bicentennial Commission.)
At its core, Gateway combines two popular and long-running small city pastimes, as founder and event chairman, George Smith, observed last year to theElkhart Truth.
“The idea is to create some positive activity in downtown Elkhart,” asserted Smith. “The American public is in love with the automobile. There’s a great love affair there.”
The celebration efforts will focus on Central Park, where the Hoosier-made vehicles will be shown. However, all types of collectors are welcome at the festival –from classic cars, muscle cars, rat rods, to street rods – whether they're restored or unrestored, original or non-original, according to the event press materials.
Last year's inaugural event drew an estimated 300 antique, classic and unique cars and 1,000 spectators to Central Park, Main Street, and Elkhart Avenue.
Notable examples on display on last year included a rare 1932 Auburn Boattail Speedster from the collection of Gaska Tape, Inc. president, Jack B. Smith, whose company is sponsoring the festival for its second straight year, as well.
The Auburn earned its place in car history as the first production model to 100 mph. Those one-of-a-kind features enable it to fetch six-figure values, depending on the quality and extensiveness of the restoration. (For example, an online search of similar auctions found a 1932 V-12 Speedster selling for $687,500 on Gooding & Co.'s website, for example.)
Naturally, how many cars were actually produced has some bearing on that equation, too, as Jack Smith explained for the Truth.
“Your grandfather may have had a 1932 Ford, but he didn’t have one of one,” he said.
And whether you're there to admire a certain car, get your photo taken with it, or chat with its owner, Gateway organizers hope that you also spend seeing what downtown Elkhart's art, dining, shopping and recreation has to offer, as George Smith told WSJV.
Whatever reason brngs you downtown, “you'll look at some other cars, especially cars that people have modified, and say, 'What in the world were they thinking?”, but they like it,” said Smith, “and that's all that's important.”
Live: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, July 16, downtown Elkhart, IN (opening ceremonies: 11 a.m.). Rolling Cruise: 7 to 10 p.m. Friday, July 15. Free.