For the seventeenth year running, thousands of like-minded performance enthusiasts converged at the Orange County Fairgrounds for an epic car show that saw vehicles ranging from ’60s top fuel dragsters to monster trucks. Normally, the prospect of more than 3000 cars and hundreds of different vendors on-site would be enough to consider this a special event. But aside from the sheer scale of this show, Cruisin’ For A Cure also has a bit of an ulterior motive: Saving lives.
The annual show was started in 2000 by Debbie Baker, whose husband had been diagnosed with prostate cancer at a stage that was too advanced to save his life. “We figure with having the guys here with their toys is the best way to get them in,” Debbie said during an interview with ABC 7.
“We’ve tested over 10,000 men over the last 15 years and we’ve saved 3,500 men in the last 15 years. Men are starting to realize that prostate cancer is not an ‘old man’s disease’. It is claiming 207,000 lives a year. Getting a simple PSA blood test and tracking their numbers for comparison each year to see if they start to go up makes a difference. We are seeing prostate cancer now more and more in men in their early 40’s and with more aggressive cancers too. They need to start screening now. You put oil in your cars, you check your radiators, why not check your own body with a simple blood test?”
The doctor’s office is not somewhere most guys are particularly enthused about spending time, so integrating non-invasive, preventative health measure into an event that caters to the demographic of men who are especially susceptible to this particular ailment is a stroke of brilliance.
Over the years Cruisin’ For A Cure has evolved into the world’s largest one-day charity car show, offering participants the option to grab a chair and watch the show unfold or hit the mile and a half long cruise route that takes them on a loop through the event center.
The non-profit event is all volunteer run, and unlike many other automotive fundraising events, none of the proceeds go to car clubs, promoters, or administrative overhead. This is a truly altruistic endeavor and the premise is perfect for those that love everything on four wheels – many of whom are of the age at which they’re most at-risk. And a simple blood test that takes just a few minutes is all that’s needed to save a life.
Participation in these screenings is of course totally voluntary, and every year tens of thousands of people show up to the event just to get their fix of killer street machines. And that’s another aspect that makes Cruisin’ For A Cure particularly compelling – whatever kinds of rides you’re into, there’s likely no shortage of it at these events.
The mile and a half long cruise route loop snakes through the event center, giving participants a chance to show off their wheels and check out everything at the show in the process. Alternatively, drivers can simply find a parking spot, grab a drink, hang out and let the show come to them.
Unlike many shows of this size there’s no restriction on what make, model, or year an entry car is – it just has to be cool. You might see the Bluesmobile parked alongside a slantnose Porsche 911, while a four-door El Camino or a vintage fire truck roll by on the cruise route. And who knows what might come by next – a modified Dodge Viper is just as likely a gasser-style drag car from the early sixties. The eye candy is seemingly endless, and that’s before you’ve even ventured into the various show hangars.
But it’s also no surprise that at an event this size there’s more than just a bunch of cool cars to check out. With more than 200 vendors offering everything from kettle corn and hot dogs to jewelry and mini bikes, there’s a good chance that the event has something interesting to offer to everyone who attends, and live music gets dished out at the main show stage throughout the afternoon.
There are so many cars up for sale at this annual event that they actually have a building dedicated to them, though you’ll also find plenty of cars with a price tag in and around the fairgrounds, along with a buffet of performance parts. If you’re looking for a new project or have been looking for the right mods for your current one, Cruisin’ For A Cure likely has something to pique your interest.
To give you a sense of the massive roster of cars at the event, between the event organizers and the sponsors no less than 84 awards were handed out at this year’s show, ranging from model specific awards (Best GTO, Best Tri 5 Chevy, etc) to particular aspects of the builds, like Best Interior and Best Engine.
“Every year the show continues to grow and get more exciting,” says event organizer Lyndsay Johnson. “My father is a survivor so we take the cause into our hearts each and every day. I am so grateful for having been part of this year’s cruise and will always support the cause and this day. A huge thank you goes out to Debbie Baker for putting everything she’s got into each year’s show.”
There were some pretty killer prizes to win at the show too, like a pair of Chevy 350ci V8 crate engines up for grabs from two Chevrolet dealerships, a Magnuson supercharger kit that’s good for up to an additional 120 rear-wheel horsepower in certain applications, and a Snap-On seven drawer tool box.
September is normally a great time of the year for temperate weather in Orange County, California, and this year was no different. With the summer season making way for fall, Crusin’ For A Cure is a great excuse to get out of the house and enjoy the warm temperatures before the rainy season sets in. Be sure to check out the gallery below to see some of the rides we caught at the event.