Rides, Rallies and Events Recap

Old Highway 56 Car & Bike Show

Written by  April 30, 2005

Reece Good looked up at the blue sky and glared at the bright sun. April 23 was almost a picture perfect day for the first-ever Old 56 Car and Bike Show at the Johnson County Fairgrounds in Gardner, Kansas. Almost a perfect day!

It was about that time when a strong gust of wind came in from the north and hit Good on the back of the neck. He twinged from the chill.

“I’m surprised at how many bikes showed up. It’s windy and cold,” Good said.

Good, the owner of Ultra Craft Customers in Gardner, was one of the organizers for the Old 56 Show sponsored by the Gardner Rotary Club to raise money for community projects. By 10:30 a.m., just more than 20 motorcycles and 110 cars and trucks had ventured into the fairgrounds and registered for the show.

“If it wasn’t so windy, and if it was a little warmer, I think we would have had a lot more motorcycles here,” Good said. “I was hoping to get around 100 bikes in for the show.”

As the day wore on, more bikers and cars found their way to Gardner and the fairgrounds. By the time the show ended at 3 p.m., more than 50 people had registered their motorcycles for the show, and more than 170 cars, trucks, and hot rods had signed up. And there were plenty of visitors coming in and out of the show all day. Some enjoyed seeing the cars they used to own during the years of their youth. Others marveled at the attention to detail on some. A few had that “I-wish-my-(car/bike)-shined-like-that” look in their eyes.

“Very successful,” said Del Sawyer, another one of the show’s organizers. “With this being our first show, I would say it went well.”

John Brandon, Greenwood, Missouri, was at the show for a selfish reason—to see for the first time, his nearly finished custom motorcycle built by Good. Painted various shades of red, and with plenty of shiny chrome, Brandon was in awe.

“Oh, man!” he said. “I can’t believe how great this looks. This has been two years in the making.”

Good said there still are some minor things to do on the motorcycle before he hands it over to Brandon.

“I can’t wait,” Brandon said. “I’ve got the fever. It’s getting warmer, and I’m ready to start riding. This is going to be awesome.”

One of the oldest antique cars in the show belonged to David Laskowski, Gardner. His 1925 Model T Ford won a couple of awards and turned a lot of heads. Painted a shiny black and red, Laskowski said restoring the car was a long, but learning experience.

“Yea,” he said, and then smiled. “I got this in 1997 and it took me four years to restore it. I finally got it done in 2001. I thought I would have it done a lot sooner than four years. It took a lot of work.

Laskowski said he was involved in more than 70 percent of the actual restoration process.
“Some of the things, like reassembling the engine, I had someone else do, but I was involved in every aspect of work that went into this,” he said.

“It’s much different than working on the cars of today. If you break something, you try to find the guys who used to work on them. They can tell you how to fix it, but they are too old now to actually do the work.”

Laskowski said he decided to take a break from redoing antique furniture to restore the car.

“There was a week when my wife Celia was out of town,” he said, and then kind of laughed. “I picked up the car and when she came home, she said, 'What’s this in the garage?’

“But now that it’s done, she likes it, and so do my boys Luke, who is 5, and Nathan, who is 11. “They like it when we cruise downtown or when I drive it to pick them up from school.”

Would he do it again?

“Well,” he said and then smiled, “it cost me more money to restore than I thought it would. It took me more time to restore than I thought it would, and it took longer to restore than I thought it would. “I have a Model A, but it’s going to be awhile before I restore it.”

Good said he’s hoping for better weather for next year’s show. “I hope next year we can do more giveaways and offer some prize money,” he said. “There are some nice bikes here, but I think we would have had a better turnout if it had been a little warmer and not so windy. “If it had rained and stopped by 10 in the morning, a warmer day would have brought out more motorcycles.”

Even though the weather could have cooperated a little more, everyone, participants and visitors alike, seemed to really enjoy themselves.

Story and photos by Chuck Kurtz