Car meets are what keep the heart of this hobby pumping. For many of us, we see the weekly car meeting as our escape from the office, real life, and all the burdens that come with it. This "escape" is even more delightful when it comes on an annual basis and can lure fellow car junkies from faraway places. In the case of the National El Camino Association, the Gainesville gathering on May 11th has established a successful second year event with hopes to return next year.
The night before, some of the gang met up at the local Cody's Roadhouse to get acclimated with some of the members. If you're not active on any car forums, then you don't know how refreshing it can be to put a face to the name—username that is. Sharing stories over some food and beverages will always lay the path to a good time and, in this case, it spilled over to the event the next day.
Arriving early in the morning before the gates opened, some of the Camino posse was gathering in a line to get through the gate. This is where we bumped into Steve Saunders, one of the head organizers for the National El Camino Association. "We like to get the group together a few times a year to catch up and just have a good time," he proclaimed. There were several other Camino gatherings that coincided with the one in Florida across the country. These undoubtedly ensure the strong bond they all share for the same cars.
Once the gates of Florida’s Auto Plus Raceway—formerly Gainesville Raceway—opened, the eager racers, enthusiasts, and spectators spilled in. Steve led the pack to a designated area under tree cover to set up shop for their private party. In total, over 25 El Caminos popped their hoods for the show. After the meet-and- greet from the night before, the transition into the next day was seamless, as some members wished to put their money where their mouth was and go head-to-head down the strip.
We caught up with David Mercer from Lady Lake, Florida, and his beautiful '59 El Camino. He told us about some of the benefits he has experienced being a part of this car community. Unless you own one, you probably haven't attempted to look for 1959 El Camino parts—well there aren't too many out there. But, with the help of these members, David was able to find the crucial parts he needed to revive his classic Chevy. It's stories like this one that show us that niche car organizations keep the spirit of classic vehicles like the El Camino alive.
Thankfully, the clouds cooperated with us at Gainesville Raceway before the flood gates opened. This kept the sun at bay, and the heat low. Special thanks to Steve Saunders for inviting us out and providing some of Gainesville's best BBQ - Terrell's Bar-B-Que! Without further adieu, here are some pictures we captured at the event.