Written by Kelly White
Car enthusiasts from the southwest suburbs and beyond were hoping the third time was the charm for their cars at the third annual American Legion Glenn Maker Post 1160 car show and competition in Chicago Ridge.
Classics, muscle cars and hot-rods Rich Zelis, of Oak Lawn displays his 1939 Buick complete with whitewall tires.packed the post’s parking lot at 106th Street and Ridgeland Avenue July 28 as vehicle owners hoped to win awards doled out to the best of the mean machines. Awards were given out to best cars in each decade, beginning with pre-1950’s. A total of 250 trophies were awarded, including Best Racecar and Best in Show, as well as a series of new awards such as the Ladies Auxiliary Top Pick, Sons of the American Legion Top Pick and Commander’s Choice Award. The judgment criterion was based on appearance and maintenance both inside and outside of the vehicle.
The American Legion’s parking lot displayed 84 vehicles, doubling the amount of vehicles entered in last year’s competition. Last year’s show featured more than 40 cars and motorcycles.
Fred Berndl, of Justice, pops the hood on his Ford Mustang during the show. “The event is becoming more and more popular every year,” Sons of the American Legion member Roger Schweikert stated.
Rich Zelis, of Oak Lawn, entered last year’s competition with a 1962 Chevy Impala; however, he decided to showcase a 1939 Buick on Saturday. Having owned the car for 43 years, Zelis said everything inside and outside of the vehicle is all original. “In fact, I don’t know how people used to rob banks with these cars, they aren’t exactly fast but they sure are nice to look at,” Zelis joked.
Zelis wasn’t the only one with a unique story behind his vehicle. Eastern Illinois graduate Todd Triller, of Chicago, built his shiny yellow 1977 Camero himself.
“I built the entire vehicle from scratch,” he said. “It wasn’t easy and it definitely took a lot of time and dedication but I am very proud to enter it in car shows whenever I have the opportunity.”Todd Triller, of Chicago, shows off the 1977 Chevy Camaro he built from scratch.
Triller’s car has taken home several awards at previous car shows for best in class.
Another former award winner, Mike Guidarelli, of Palos Hills, admits he is more than proud to showcase his solar-gold 1978 Poniac Trans AM.
“I have taken home several awards for having an unrestored, all original vehicle, including awards for best in class, as well,” he said.
Since purchasing his vehicle last winter, 1939 Chevy owner Joe Motyka, of Romeoville, has taken home awards at car shows throughout the Chicago area this past spring and summer for best in show.
“My wife wasn’t too happy when I bought this car at first,” Motyka joked, “But the shows are consistently proving that I do have an award-winning vehicle.”
The show also brought in new competitors this year, including brothers Joe and Mark Hofsteadter, of Midlothian and Chicago Ridge. This is the first show their 1970 yellow Camaro has seen, and according to Joe, it won’t be the last.
“We have had the car over twenty years, and this is honestly the first time we ever considered entering it in a competition,” he stated.
Mustang owner Fred Berndl, of Justice, originally bought his vehicle for his daughter, but ended up keeping it for himself. “I drive this car all the time just for fun — it isn’t just a show car,” Berndl stated.
Chevelle owner John Muradito, of Burbank, agrees that his car is not just a show car. “I do try to enter my car in a show whenever I have the chance, but I also drag race my vehicle,” Muradito said about his 550-horsepower engine. Purchasing the car in 1995, Muradito repainted the once red vehicle to a gray and put in a new suspension and brakes. “The entire car is like brand new again,” he added.
Dodge Coronet owner Frank Zilka, of Lockport, also drives his car all the time. “They only made Coronets up until the mid-1970s,” Zilka explained. “With having such a unique car, I’m happy to not only enter it in car shows, but to use it as my everyday vehicle, as well.”
All proceeds from the show contestants will be going to veterans.
The Glenn Maker post will be making donations to the Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital and the Wounded Warriors Project.
Hines Hospital, located at 5000 South 5th Avenue in Hines, Illinois provides healthcare services to veterans in the Chicagoland area, offering a Blind Rehabilitation Center, while the Wounded Warriors Project provides programs and services to severely injured members during the time between active duty and the transition to civilian life.