Highway 11 Cruisers a car club with heart
Danny Facchini is not your typical car guy. Sure, he loves his ‘79 10th Anniversary TransAm with its giant 6.6 litre engine and its paltry odometer reading of 40,000 km. Sure, he admits that he “lives, sleeps and eats” The Highway 11 Cruisers Car Club, which he founded in 2010 with a small group of like-minded individuals, but he’s no ordinary car nut and this is no ordinary car club.
Yes, they do a lot of the stuff that other clubs do – they have race days at Cayuga, they have regular cruises, they have hot-rodders and nitro-bikers, tuners and restorers, but the members also have plenty else in common.
“Our club, it’s like a family,” says Facchini, “you can’t just show up and join, there’s a process. You have to be a good guy, you have to have family values, you gotta have a positive attitude and be willing to volunteer. If you street race or do any of that illegal stuff, we don’t ask you to stop. We ask for your sticker back and wish you a good life.”
Since it’s inception, the club has focused on raising money for charities. Their current projects are Canadian Tire’s Jump Start and Sick Kids Hospital, but it doesn’t end there. According to Facchini, a number of club members are from Police Forces, EMS Services, 911 Responders, the Military and Fire Departments. “PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) is a huge issue for these guys, so we raise money for awareness and treatment of that.” In fact, the charitable focus of the club is so ingrained that it is currently in the process of becoming a registered charitable foundation.
Facchini isn’t married, and has no children other than his TransAm, but the club places family values front and center when they vet their new members. Family values are so important, he says, that they now have a monthly Ladies Night. “It can be boring for wives and girlfriends,” he opines, “so we started Ladies Night where all the ladies get tickets for a draw for services from one of our sponsors, Stroud Haircutters in Innisfil.”
Highway 11 Cruisers Car Club has had a big impact on its hometown of Newmarket, and local residents and businesses have noticed. The club has several sponsors, but Facchini singles out the New Roads Automotive Group, specifically New Roads Chevrolet as a sponsor of great importance. According to Fixed Operations Manager Rino Rizzuto, the club is “the best run, fun bunch of guys you ever met. We believe in the club, we believe in what they stand for, and it’s great to help out however we can.”
The club’s 197 members treat each other like family. On any given occasion about ¾ of them will attend a meeting to show off and demonstrate their wares to each other and to the crowds of guests that stop by. They never charge admission to a show (“That’s not what we’re about”) but they do encourage donations by placing jars around a show venue. So far they’ve raised $32,000 doing what they love with their extended family.
In order to keep the group close, Facchini arranges Club gatherings all winter long, although the cars and bikes are noticeably absent. “We go tubing, snowmobiling together, we hang out,” he says.
The busy Club will be present at the Cabbagetown Festival and Taste of the Danforth in Toronto this summer, but work has already started on the Big Season Finale, a Highway 11 Cruisers Car Club event at the Go Station parking lot on Green Lane in Newmarket, scheduled for September 20th. There will be a variety of vendors of all kinds, Food Trucks, live music, “official” club DJs Bob & Robert Hawkins (club members and owners of six classic cars) and, of course, lots of attractions for car nuts of all ages. The event promises mini-dragsters, Pro Street Race Cars, Indy Cars and motorbikes, including nitro bikes.
The event is being held in support of Sick Kids Hospital, and the club has arranged for a busload of kids to come up from the Hospital for the day. As is the case for all their events, there is no entry fee, but donations are gratefully accepted. For more information visit www.highway11cruisers.ca.
Written by Aladin Jarrah