Car enthusiasts revved up for Baldwin show

Muscle cars on display in Baldwin


Car enthusiasts and Baldwin residents attended the final car show this year sponsored by the Baldwin Chamber of Commerce in partnership with the Rockville Centre/Baldwin Rotary Club last Sunday in Baldwin Park.

The car show debuted on June 24 and ran through the end of August. Paul Lizio, co-president of the Rotary Club and a chamber member, who oversaw the event each week, said public turnout was low throughout the season, picking up the last three shows.

Lizio said he believed the Covid-19 crisis affected turnout, noting that last year the car show was canceled. “It was a little struggle getting people here…” he said. “It started picking up towards the end. I think people are still afraid going out in general.” He also said that other Long Island car shows stifled attendance.

For the final three car shows, Gala Fresh donated $75 gift card to the winner and a $15 one to the runner-up. Last Thursday, Sanitation No. 2 Commissioner and Baldwin firefighter Jerry Brown won first place with his black ‘48 Chevy, and Baldwin Fire Commissioner Robert Quackenbush took second place with his blue and white ’55 Chevy.

Robert Quackenbush said he restored his entire vehicle since he acquired it in 1995, as it was metallic blue, but he repainted it with the original color. He said, “My grandkids love to ride it, so I had to put seatbelts in the backseat…My 17-year-old is asking to drive it, but since it’s a manual, I want him to learn how to drive automatic.”

Baldwinite Dukens Merise and his friend Ralph Israel LaFleur unexpectedly wandered into the car show, as the bold vehicle colors drew them in from their day at the park. Merise, who works at a mechanic shop, said, “I’m not an expert, but I’m really into muscle cars…I prefer the Ford Mustang. Back in the day, these cars were tough, they were hard, the transmission and the engine was built nicely.”

The owner of Marise’s favorite car in the show was Carmine Pugliese, who has lived in Baldwin for about 30 years, and had previously attended the Thursday night car shows with his ’65 Ford Mustang with his wife, Debbie Pugliese, who took photos of all the cars displayed. He said he bought it in 1992 and uses it “almost as s daily driver; it has about 300,000 miles on it.”

Christopher Wells, who used to participate in car shows before selling his vehicle two years ago, said that he thoroughly enjoyed being a spectator in the car show. “A car show for mechanics is like a horse-lover going to watch horse racing,” he said. “In my head, I’m doing 120 with these cars.”

Ray Lignowsky has a ‘64 Pontiac GTL. He’s owned the car since 1983 and has attend car shows two to three times a year since then. He said he basically had to scrap and replace most parts with original ones. “My friends and I would go upstate, go to the local junkyard with money, and just load up on parts,” he said.

The event was free to the public, with a suggested donation of $5. Proceeds were given to the chamber to fund community events, such as its Veterans Banner Program that debuted this year.