19th Summer Nationals drive in; Crowds admire owner attitudes.


Byline: Steven H. Foskett Jr.

WORCESTER - Pesa Shayo lives near Green Hill Park, and often takes his children on walks through the meandering city park.

But yesterday the park was slightly less tranquil - although more colorful - than usual, as the Summer Nationals car show rolled into the city.

Skid marks scattered about Skyline Drive provided a "map" to where the various makes and models of classic cars, muscle cars, new cars, old cars, hot rods, rat rods, and trucks were cruising along and resting on the lush green hills.

Mr. Shayo said he has lived in the neighborhood for a while, and is no stranger to the Summer Nationals. But this was his first time walking through the park during the annual weekend festival.

"We can usually hear them," Mr. Shayo said. "They make a lot of noise."

His young daughter, Matilda, seemed particularly intrigued by an old Plymouth; she said she liked the red color. Across the street, a Nissan Altima with vertically hinged doors caught her eye, too. But she said when she grows up she doesn't want some big brawny muscle car.

"I want a slug bug," Matilda said, referring to an old Volkswagen Beetle.

By late afternoon, many of the cars had left the park and were either out on the city streets, burbling and chugging at stop lights, cruising the downtown area, or parked in the north Main Street area that also holds several Summer Nationals events, including the acrid but entertaining burnouts. Hundreds of people lined the Ernest A. Johnson Tunnel, as police directed traffic around the closed-off streets.

Back up at the park, Karen and Mark Blanchard, along with family and friends, were hunkering down for the night. Surrounded by beautiful old cars, the Blanchards said they make it a tradition to come to the Summer Nationals and camp out for the weekend.

The Blanchards, who run Cruisin' at the Club, a cruise night at the Coldbrook Country Club in Barre, said they were glad the weather held yesterday - at least until about 7:30 p.m., when the rain finally came down. They were hoping for more of the same today and tomorrow, when the event continues.

Mr. Blanchard said it's a family-friendly event, and he looks forward to it every year. He said some people may have been scared away this year because of news reports the event might not happen.

"I still had people asking me if it was still on," Mr. Blanchard said.

He said the Summer Nationals are an important yearly event for him and his wife, and said he hopes it keeps...

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