On the banks of the Hudson River, there’s a rockabilly revival.
“This is a little subculture of tats, music and cars,” Rust Riot founder Mark Collins said. Pompadours, poodle skirts and chrome engines overtook Peekskill this weekend as 300-plus people filled the parking lot of The Cove at Charles Point, all in celebration of the 5th Annual Rust Riot, a pre-’65 car show.
“It’s not for the guy on the weekend polishing his car with only 100 miles on it," said Collins, who is a Cortlandt resident.
Collins emphasized the focus on quality over quantity. “Any night of the week you can go to a parking lot and there will be a car show with every kind of car from every era,” Collins said.
“This isn’t that… This is about bringing the music and the cars to the masses.” Here, folks celebrate the not-so-bygone era of rock n’ roll with steadfast dedication to detail, heavy mid-century styling and some basic welding skills.
On display was Chris Bramman’s black ’63 Buick LeSabre, complete with a few minor modifications. “Oh, yeah, it shoots fire. Wanna see?” the Rockland resident boasted in the packed parking lot. After pulling the car up away from the other vintages in line, he lit her up and a whoosh of diesel-fueled flames began to shoot from a pair of 2-foot high metal pipes affixed to the hood. Flashbulbs popped as a small crowd surrounded the car. “These cars are great because you can drive them while you’re still messing with them,” he said after the roar of the engine died down.
“I’ve been into cars since high school,” Bramman said. “We didn’t have hot rods… we got what we could afford and worked on them to make them cool. It used to be that you could buy a car for $400. But now, on some guy’s Toyota the bumper costs $400.”
Other cars at Rust Riot serve a more workaday purpose, like commuting. That’s what one enthusiast, Mike, likes to use his ’49 Chevy for. From Westchester to Brooklyn and back again, every day of the week.
“I get some stares on the BQE,” he said. “I traded it for a ‘55 Studebaker… the only thing I changed was I put in disc brakes so I can drive it around and it’ll actually stop.”
But whitewalls weren’t the only retro wheels rolling through The Cove parking lot Saturday afternoon: the jammers and blockers of Suburbia Roller Derby bladed in and out of car lanes, kids skated around on longboards, and one little boy zipped along the asphalt in a modified pedal car with the name “Lil Rebel” stenciled on the back.
(The tiny motorized roadster is a replica of his father’s car, “Rebel Without a Clue.”) Live music—five bands, from psychobilly to swing— set a bumping backdrop to the afternoon.
New to Peekskill, the event previously took place on the grounds of the German American Social Club in Putnam Valley. When prompted as to whether a Rust Riot for 2012 is in the works, Collins said: “I don’t want it to stop, because every year someone comes up to me and says ‘Thanks so much for doing this. There’s nothing else like this around here.’ And it makes it all worth it.”