Central Illinois Cruisers back for the summer

Holly Richrath
Engines revved: Last year’s July 24 event at La Gondola Spaghetti House in Washington drew crowds of participants and spectators. The club will participate in the Mid-Illinois Corvette Club’s 12th Annual St. Jude Charity Car Show May 29 at Uftring Chevrolet in Washington.

For his 50th birthday, Chuck McCarty had a 1950s party complete with classic cars, good friends and food. The party inspired him to start a club which continues to uphold these traditions.

 It has been 12 years since that party. McCarty founded the Central Illinois Cruisers in May 1997. He is still holding the cruise-ins that offer car enthusiasts a place to show off the vehicles they love, chat with other car lovers and grab a bite to eat.

A cruise-in is scheduled in Washington from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday at La Gondola Spaghetti House.

 “Years ago, in 69, everybody cruised,” McCarty said. “I always liked going to cruise-ins and meeting people and talking about cars.”

 McCarty said he enlisted the help of family members to organize the Cruisers.

His daughter, Amanda McCarty, is the club’s secretary and a member of the board of directors.

She said cars at the cruise-ins range from 1929 and 1932 Model A cars to newer Mustangs and Corvettes.

“People bring anything they can soup up and that they want to show off,” she said.

Chuck McCarty said the club’s Web site, centralillinoiscruisers.com, gets about 50 to 60 hits a day.

There are about 130 card-carrying Central Illinois Cruisers. For $10 a year, members receive a membership card and window sticker.

“You don’t have to be a member to go to the cruise-ins, but a lot of people like to be a part of a club,” he said. “People just love the cruise-ins because they can come and go as they please, listen to music and get something to eat.”

The cruise-ins are almost always at local restaurants, whose owners allow McCarty and his fellow cruisers to use their parking lots for the events.

“I like helping the businesses and they help us by giving us the grounds to use,” McCarty said.

The Central Illinois Cruisers will be participating in the Mid-Illinois Corvette Club’s 12th Annual St. Jude Charity Car Show Saturday, May 29, at Uftring Chevrolet. Registration for the event is 8 to 11 a.m., judging from 11 to 11:45 a.m. and awards will be presented at 2 p.m.

Amanda McCarty said the Central Illinois Cruisers recently began raising money for local charities. Raffle items they have had donated include signed NASCAR memorabilia, a signed Toby Keith CD and tickets to local sporting events.

She said they have worked with charities such as the Arthritis Foundation and the Center For Prevention of Abuse.

The car club is registered with the State of Illinois as a legal non-profit corporation. 

According to the Web site, the club’s three objectives are “to bring people and families together who enjoy classic cars, trucks and other types of unique vehicles; have as much fun as possible and make a difference in our community.”

“We’re pretty open,” she said. “We don’t push anybody away. Anybody who wants to come out and have fun is welcome.”

For more information about the cruisers and cruise-ins, visit centralillinoiscruisers.com.