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Trio of events trebles Hot Nite turnout

Perfect weather greets 50,000 or more in downtown
August 6, 2016 12:59 P.M.
Kamloops Dragon Boat Club team listens to a last-minute motivator before hitting the water Saturday at the Kamloops Dragon Boat Festival at Riverside Beach.

Boosted by a simultaneous dragon boat festival and an expanded Ribfest, Hot Nite was sure to set an attendance record Saturday in downtown Kamloops.

A Belair-blue sky and 29 C greeted tens of thousands of spectators who packed Victoria Street to admire more than 450 automobiles spread over 13 blocks in the core event, the annual show ’n’ shine.

There was spit and polish in plentitude along the stroll as owners relaxed in the shade and swapped stories. Vic and Joyce Skjeie of Kamloops were among them, proudly showing their 1958 Cadillac Fleetwood, tailfins in full glory, a car originally owned by an oilman in Houston, Tex.

“Every time he went to South America, he took the car with him,” Vic said. “This is all solid chrome,” he added, pointing to a rear wheel guard. The chrome alone cost $22,000 to restore.

“It’s nice to drive,” he added. “There’s more chrome than any other Cadillac.”

Up the street a ways, Maybelline, a 1966 Corvair, was looking sweeter than wine, a working man’s Corvette in its time, unjustly maligned by the publicity surrounding Ralph Nader’s Unsafe at Any Speed.

“It was ignorance,” said owner Steve Bell, explaining that it was incorrect tire pressure that caused handling problems. Due to the rear-engine drive, they needed only 15 pounds of pressure in the front, 28 in the rear. Gas jockeys taught the standard 32 didn’t know any better, he said. f

“It really got a raw deal.”

Contrary to its unfortunate reputation, the Corvair was a trendsetter as the first rear-engine car produced in North America, first turbo and first unibody.

“It paved the way for the Mustang and Camaro and won all kinds of awards,” said Bell, who’s owned three Corvettes. “This handles better than any of my Corvettes.”

Kamloops Vintage Car Club of Canada members had about twenty-five vehicles in the show.

Down at Riverside Beach, people lined the Rivers Trail and pier to watch teams go through their paces along a course on the south shore of the Thompson River. At 8 a.m., it was “paddles up” for 30 teams from across southern B.C. competing in what organizers described as “a stunning venue.”

Visiting teams had plenty to take in aside from the scenery, with Rifest cooking up a storm on the west side of the park and a large exhibition of community and corporate booths occupying the shady east.

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