‘Just a place to talk cars’ in Wading River

John Griffin photos
Joe DeMonte of Wading River with his wife, Rose, in the triple black 1966 Oldsmobile 442 they purchased last year.

You’ll be hearing engines revving Thursday nights in Wading River at the car show in the King Kullen shopping center, but you won’t find any rowdy teenagers there. Loud cars and hot-rodders aren’t welcome. And since it’s just the beginning of the season, only a few “die-hards that got cabin fever” mustered for the show last week, according to one of the organizers.

As the weather heats up, more local gearheads will come together for Wading River Cruise Night, from 5 to 9 p.m. on Thursdays. The event is open to the public.

Participants say they plan to keep the event low-key because they like the car show’s location.

“No stupid hot-rodders, no burn-outs or loud cars,” said John Kleedorfer of Baiting Hollow. “We try to refrain from it … We’ll see if we can continue to keep the marriage going.”

On a warm night, about 100 cars are on display in the parking lot, said Mr. Kleedorfer, who owns a 1966 Oldsmobile 442 L69 convertible.

“It started off with six of us and we just parked and talked,” said Joe DeMonte of Wading River of the early days of the event. “It’s something that everybody enjoys, mostly older gents. There are a lot of young guys here, too, that are enjoying it.”

About six years ago, Ron Tallon started Wading River Cruise Night. He died a few years ago in a car accident while vacationing with his wife, Jacqueline, in North Dakota, said Mr. Kleedorfer.

“Ron deserves all of the credit,” he added.

Wading River Cruise Night has become the place to be seen among car enthusiasts, said Mr. DeMonte, who owns a “triple black” (black paint, black interior, black roof) 1966 Oldsmobile 442.

John Dunn of Riverhead, one of the enthusiasts on hand last Thursday, said he’s been coming to the car show since its creation.

“Basically, it’s a bunch of us that are car lovers and just decided to show off what we do,” said Mr. Dunn, who owns a 1978 Camaro Z28 in its original “Carmine Red” finish.

Mr. Dunn said restoring the car with his son, Curtis, was a labor of love. For the past four years, the father-and-son team has been refurbishing the car and modernizing it with an upgraded engine, which cost about $20,000.

“Oh God, hopefully my wife doesn’t get that number,” Mr. Dunn said. “But the way I look at it is it’s better than the stock market. We enjoy it and it keeps us out of trouble.”

Steve Lobasso of Eastport, another attendee, said he’s particular to ’50s-style cars.

“To me, those cars are beautifully sculptured, like art,” said Mr. Lobasso, who owns a 1956 Ford Sunliner, “and it brings back good memories.”

Mr. Lobasso said he’s been coming to the car show for the past five years and enjoys the opportunity to take his car out for a spin.

“In the summertime, I take it out about two times a week,” he said. “In the wintertime: none. I hate the winter.”

Mr. Lobasso said coming to Wading River Cruise Night is very enjoyable, especially after work.

“We’ve been coming here a long time,” he said. “I know everybody here. It’s a chance to get out of the house and have a good time.”

“It’s nice to have a place to come to,” added Mr. Kleedorfer. “To just hang out and talk cars. All of us are all gearheads here.”

[email protected]