Cars are the Stars

Story and photos by Christine June
415th Base Support Battalion

***image1******image2***A record number of makes and models strutted their stuff to more than 4,000 spectators at the 20th Annual Cars are the Stars Street Machine National Auto Show held Saturday and Sunday at Pulaski Park.
“We had 340 vehicles this weekend, and the previous number was 292,” said the Cars are the Stars founder, Henry M. Roeder, 415th Base Support Battalion Automotive Skills chief. “Whatever you can imagine, it’s out here on the field. This is what I call a generic show because we allow every type of vehicle.”
Billed as the largest of its kind in Germany, this international auto show spotlighted American, European and Asian cars, trucks and vans from 1930 to 2000.
“This is tremendous,” said Maj. Eric Stewart, 39th Transportation Battalion support operations officer.
“My kids really like the cars,” said Major Stewart, who was there for the first time with his three children. “Some of them are really unique and look like their ‘Hot Wheel’ cars they play with at home.”
Showcasing their hard work were vehicle owners who were Soldiers, Airmen, government employees from the KMC and surrounding military communities, and local nationals from Germany, Belgium, France, The Netherlands, Austria, England and Italy.
“Not too many Soldiers get to do this and meet the different folks from all over Europe,” said Sgt. 1st Class Jeff M. Sweeney, 1st Transportation Movement Agency operations training NCO.
“From a Soldier’s perspective, it’s great to have a hobby,” said Sergeant Sweeney, who was showing his 1972 Opel GT, which took more than 1,000 hours to rebuild and which won the 2002 and 2003 Best Pro-Street Automobile – Foreign. “It’s relaxing, and it gets the family together.”
Sergeant Sweeney’s son has also gotten “the car bug.”
“My dad calls me ‘step-and-fetch,’ because I was too young to help with the car, and I would just get him the tools and stuff,” said Rory K. Sweeny, 12, seventh-grader at Kaiserslautern American Middle School. “I like walking around and looking at the other cars and seeing how much work the other people put into their cars.”
All these different kinds of vehicles make judging a science said Steve A. Masters, 415th BSB Automotive Skills Center supervisor.
“Checklists? Throw them out the window in an event like this because we have so many different classes of vehicles,” said Mr. Masters, who has judged this event for nine years. “You can’t have a checklist for everything.”
Pre-judging took place when the vehicles registered, and final judging was Sunday while the cars were on the field. Best and Overall Best were awarded in each of the five categories: stock, street machine, pro-street, custom and street rod.
Judges awarded 62 trophies and $1,600 cash prizes during Sunday’s award ceremony.
The Best in the Show went to Michael Kirschenman, from Dornstetten-Aach Germany, for his 1933 black Ford Roadster sporting yellow flames. Bart Taylor, Trail Boss Transient Alert aircraft servicer, garnered The People’s Choice Award.
The Procter and Gamble Performance Award went to Richard Preheim, from Ramstein, for his 1949 red Chevrolet pick-up truck. For the second year in a row, The Commander’s Award for Excellence winner was awarded to Alex Polish, from Dornbirn, Austria, for his 1951 blue and purple Mercury Sport Sedan.
“It was a great honor for me to win the commander’s award again,” said Herr Polish, who rebuilt his car in 1998 and also garnered The People’s Choice Award in 1999 at the Cars are the Stars auto show. “It’s not the important thing. It’s more important to meet all the people with the same hobby and have a nice weekend.”