Some people are defined by what they do for work. Some people are defined by what kind of music they listen to. And some people are defined by what they do for a hobby. Bruce Westerby and Rob Gardner are definitely in that third category.
Both long-standing members of the 38-year-old Newmarket Car Club, Bruce and Rob talk about their classic cars with knowledge and passion, and with perhaps a surprising dose of humour thrown in. “I pulled up at a stop light in my ‘57 Pontiac,” Bruce recalls, “and this woman pulls up beside me. She rolls down her window and asks if it’s a ‘57 Pontiac I’m driving. I said, ‘Yeah.’ She said she got engaged in the back of one of those.”
Bruce and Rob trade off on casual stories of particular parts they were looking for to complete a certain repair, or to make a necessary change to make an older model certifiable in this day and age. It may sound daunting to an outsider – one item located in Colorado, another sought across all of Canada and finally located in northern Quebec – but the tales are always told with a smile and a laugh. The search is part of the fun, they maintain. And the philosophy of having fun is carried into the Club, as well.
Started in 1974 by Dan and John Arnold, the Newmarket Car Club holds the distinction of being the oldest car club in York Region and the only Club that has its logo on the Newmarket welcome sign on Highway 9. Dan is still a member, and the current Acting President. John, while not an active member, still comes out to all of the Club’s events throughout the year. And those events are numerous: Canada Day was their annual pancake breakfast.
July 14th was the annual Aurora Heritage Day Show and Shine.
July 21st is the Newmarket Multicultural Day, which Club members attend and support.
August 4th will see the second annual Newmarket Downtown Mechants Car Show, sponsored by the Club and again featuring some of its members’ cars. Live music will be performed, and prizes will be given away. This year will include radio-controlled cars as part of the show.
September 8th is the evening for their Graffiti Night at the North York Drive-In: antique, hotrod and customized vehicles and drivers get in free, while passengers pay the normal movie rate, and once the vehicles are bumper-to-bumper, they watch a movie on the big screen.
In February they regularly hold a Winterfest event for the kids… the list goes on. And it’s all in order to give back to the community.
“We’re registered as a not-for-profit organization,” Bruce says. “We sponsor minor hockey, the Newmarket Food Pantry… we try to keep most of the support local. It’s all just community support. We have a lot of fun doing it, and the community enjoys it.” Which doesn’t go unnoticed: not only does the Newmarket Legion Hall (Branch 426) allow the Club to hold its weekly Wednesday Cruise Night, but they in fact allow the Club to use their basement as the official club house. Not something that could be managed by a disrespectful group. Indeed, respect for others is a lot of what the Newmarket Car Club is about. Among their self-imposed rules are safe driving and no tire-smoking burnouts (which are an unpopular move in neighbourhoods where they’re done).
The Club is also unique in that you don’t actually need to own any cars to join. Anyone is welcome to become a member, provided they at least have an interest in old cars and hotrods and/or in customizing them. If you think you may have more to learn about classic cars and customizing, all the better: Bruce, Rob, and the other members are, by their nature, more than willing to share their experience. “Old car people help one another a lot,” Bruce says. “We’re just a mixture of guys with basically the same interest in old cars and in joining a bunch of guys to have a good time. We have fun with it, and that’s kind of the point.”
If you’re interested in joining the Newmarket Car Club or have any questions about their upcoming events, call Bruce during business hours at 905-895-4634.
Written by Reay Jespersen