SHAFTER, California — After graduating from college, I immediately listed my textbooks for sale, emptied my book bag, and performed a digital purge on my computer.
My narrow way of thinking in those days convinced me that an education began and ended in the classroom. Now that I am older, I realize how misguided I was. Education is a lifelong affair whether be it from talking to complete strangers, reading a novel, or attending a car show.
When I attended Wings N’ Wheels at Minter Field, I did not expect more than to photograph every car I possibly could and to get on with my weekend promptly after. My assumption proved to be wrong and it turned out to be the best car show I have attended to date.
Small towns are not only charming but from time to time they can have intriguing information stored in their history. Take for instance the town of Shafter which began as a loading dock operated by the Santa Fe Railroad prior to incorporating in 1938. Three years later an airport originally called Lerdo Field opened in the midst of World War II. This airport would later be renamed Minter Field Army Airfield and when operations began during WWII approximately 7,000 troops were stationed there.
The gates were just opening to the general public when my nephew and I arrived at Minter Field for the Wings N’ Wheels car show. As we entered the venue I scanned the massive staging area and noted that this event was everything but typical for a classic car show.
We wasted no time and holding hands we sprinted to the section that showcased mostly vintage aircraft. It was interesting to see the small planes fly in and land on the runway before being directed to their designated space on the airport apron. There was a vendor selling tickets for airplane rides urging my nephew to dart over to their booth to ask about prices.
As he was returning to me I could see his disappointing facial expression from a mile away. “Prices start at $149 for a ride! I would rather take a real plane ride when I go on vacation.” He exclaimed angrily. I couldn’t hold back my laughter at this nine-year old’s rational way of thinking.
After circling the aircraft area, we walked toward the military base section which had Humvees, vintage Jeeps, and other military vehicles on display. Before moving on to the classic cars a gentleman dressed in military attire posed for a picture with my nephew. My nephew asked, “Could we please start with the Corvettes tía?” You got it! I replied.
Car Show Favorite: 1925 Ford Munster Koach (Replica)
By the time we explored virtually every section, we came to what appeared to be a custom-built hearse that was tucked away in a corner of the car show. This motor vehicle was odd looking, sort of creepy, and at the same time very cool. It looked like a hot rod that belonged to some death metal band and it was my favorite car of the entire show.
Owned by Ron Stafford this custom-built 1925 Ford Model T is a replica of the Munster Koach from the 1960’s television series “The Munsters.” Built in 2001, Stafford started the project with parts he had laying around in his garage and spent $12,000 to complete it. The original Munster Koach was designed by Tom Daniel and built at Barris Kustom Industries from three Ford Model T bodies.
James Dean Tribute: 1955 Porsche 550 Spyder “Little Bastard”
Saving the best for last we went over to the James Dean tribute where a replica of his 1955 Porsche 550 Spyder dubbed “Little Bastard” was on display. There were several copies of artifacts about Dean’s short-lived racing career pinned to a board. I learned that he competed in the Bakersfield National Sports Car Races at Minter Field on May 1, 1955.
Dean entered his Porsche 356 Super Speedster in Race No. 2 for the San Luis Rey Trophy prize. Though Dean did not win the race he had a decent finish at third place and won first in Class “F” for production cars with an engine displacement of 1,100cc to 1,500cc (cubic centimeters).
I could go on about all the cool cars and things I learned from attending this car show, however there is a gigantic photo gallery below that will do a better job. Cheers!