Successful Cruisin’ the Gut event returns for second year

By Erin Middlewood, Columbian special projects reporter

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Cruisin' the Gut

For the second year, Main Street came alive with fancy cars and those who love them Saturday evening during the Cruisin' the Gut event.

For the second year, Main Street came alive with fancy cars and those who love them Saturday evening during the Cruisin' the Gut event.

If you go

• What: Cruisin’ the Gut.

• When: 5 p.m. July 17.

• Where: Along Main Street between Eighth and 28th streets.

• Cost: Free. Participants are encouraged to patronize local businesses and bring three nonperishable food items for Share. Commemorative T-shirts are $10.

• Information: pmedina76@comcast...

Phil Medina said he expected perhaps 300 cars to show up for the Vancouver cruising event he organized last year.

He underestimated the power of nostalgia.

Perhaps five times as many classic cars showed up along “The Gut,” as Main Street was known during the cruising era of the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s.

“It’s really turned into something,” Medina said.

The incredible turnout for the first Cruisin’ the Gut event, however, makes things a little more complicated this year.

He had to get a permit from the city. He ordered portable toilets and crafted signs to direct people. He also worked with the city to alter the timing of traffic lights; last year, the lights at Fourth Plain Boulevard, a freight corridor, left cars backed up for blocks and slowed their procession.

“I don’t want to do orchestrated gridlock,” he said. “I want to keep cars moving.”

Medina’s mother’s tales of cruising back in the day inspired him to launch the event.

“I have a passion for cars, but I also have a passion for downtown,” said Medina, a 34-year-old Carter Park resident.

Everyone does car shows, he said, but he wanted an event in which people could actually drive their classic cars to show them off, enjoy a Coke and relive the glory days of cruising in Vancouver.

To launch the grass-roots event last year, he used money he received as a Father’s Day gift to make fliers and recruited car clubs one by one. An estimated 5,000 people and perhaps 1,500 cars turned out, he said.

This year, he secured sponsors among the businesses along Main Street — Dairy Queen, Tip Top Tavern, Vancouver Pizza Company, Pop Culture and Brickhouse Bar & Grill — to cover costs.

“I don’t want to deal with money, but you’ve got to have money to make it work,” Medina said.

Businesses farther south on Main Street convinced him to stretch the cruise to Eighth Street. (Last year, Mill Plain Boulevard marked the southern end of the cruising strip.) Main Street businesses will stay open late for the event.

Participants who bring a donation of three nonperishable food items for Share will receive a commemorative dash plaque. Food items can be dropped off at a truck at Dairy Queen or in barrels at businesses along the route. Businesses also will sell $10 Cruisin’ the Gut T-shirts. Proceeds will benefit Share and will underwrite next year’s event.

“I want to make sure this is something I can do every year,” Medina said.