There are several great car clubs in Citrus County. I’m always interested in the story behind how they got started.
The Citrus County Cruisers car club is one of those local clubs that has been around for over 25 years. It started in December 1985 as a hot rod club. The term “hot rod” became commonplace in the 1930s or 1940s as the name typically used for American cars that had been “hopped up” by modifying the engine in various ways to achieve high performance and speed. Later, the cruisers club was changed to a Ford Mustang club then, soon after that, an antique and classic car club named the Citrus County Cruisers. To become a member of the club, your vehicle has to be road worthy and 25 years or older — there are currently about 230 members. To join the club, you have to be sponsored by a member and the annual dues are $20 for a single member and $30 for a couple.
Two longtime members of the club are Doug and Janet Thomas, who provided the information for this article. Doug is a past president, having served for six years, and Janet was the Newsletter Editor for many years. Each of them served as car show chairperson for their annual shows and have helped with every car show since the start. Their annual Manatee show is held in March at the Crystal Automotive dealerships in Homosassa. There are usually 150 to 200 vehicles in attendance, depending on the weather and proceeds benefit local charities. The club also holds weekly cruise-ins every Saturday evening at Wendy’s in Crystal River starting at 6 p.m. but many cars arrive as early as 5 p.m. At the cruise-ins, they celebrate birthdays the second Saturday each month with free cake for all and conduct valve cover car races the third Saturday. The current club president is Kathe Tegen. If you would like more info on membership, call Bert Hanson at (352) 212-7786.
Doug has owned a 1955 Chevy Bel Air hardtop sport coupe for about 20 years. He gave Janet a 1957 Chevy Bel Air convertible in 1962 and he’s managed to keep her and the 1957 ever since. They both have always enjoyed old cars and think of them as “works of art.” What they like most about the car hobby is the helpfulness and comradeship among the club members, the fun of chasing down an old car part and restoring and maintaining these wonderful vehicles. Also, they like the opportunity to meet people and make wonderful new friends where ever they go with their “old” cars.
Doug and Janet are originally from Baltimore, Maryland where Doug worked at Bethlehem Steel and also owned and operated a printing company with Janet. They have been together for over 50 years and moved to Crystal River in 1980 for the great weather, the slower lifestyle and the beautiful rivers, especially Crystal River. I thank them both for providing me with very helpful information about their club and wish them the best in their “car” endeavors.
June 27: All American Muscle Night cruise-in at 6 p.m. hosted by Nature Coast Mustangs at Arby’s on U.S. 19 in Crystal River. All years, makes and models of cars and trucks are invited to attend.
Ken McNally is a car enthusiast from Citrus County and his Car Corner columns appear twice each month on the second and fourth Fridays in the Hernando Today. He can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 352-341-1165.