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Spring Has Sprung

Corvetters Hit the Road--and the Tables--at the Gambler's Classic Poker Run

John Nelson Jul 28, 2003

In many ways, springtime is the perfect time to visit the desert. It still gets good and chilly at night, but the days are incredible. You can see for miles through the crystal-clear blue skies, the desert flowers are in full bloom, and the temperatures are nice and balmy, right in the 80s. In other words, it's a perfect time to roll out the Vette and take to the roads--and that's just what Corvette fans from across the western U.S. do at the Gambler's Classic Poker Run, held this past March 14-15. Not that the charms of the desert and the open road are the only reasons to visit the Gambler's Classic. True to its name, Corvettes of Bakersfield holds its annual shindig at the River Palms Resort and Casino in the gambling mecca of Laughlin, Nevada, giving Corvetters a chance to unwind alongside the Colorado River, check out one of the many shows at the various hotels, or to go ahead and empty out that wallet or purse at the gaming tables. There's something for almost everyone.

This year's event got started on Friday night. Many participants were still arriving, but it was a good idea to be there in time for the night's entertainment, a truly hilarious little bit of dinner theater called "Joey and Maria's Italian Wedding." It was literally a laugh-a-minute affair, and if you weren't careful, you'd find yourself suddenly up front and in the show. With the great rise in attendance the Gambler's Classic has seen over the years, shows were presented on both Friday and Saturday nights. More than a few enjoyed the act enough to see it twice!

This year's poker run left in two waves, due to the fact the event reached a new high in attendance--530 Corvettes signed up to take the ride through the Nevada and Arizona deserts. The run itself had a Route 66 theme, visiting "The Powerhouse" along the fabled road, as well as one of the cities from the song, Kingman, Arizona. There was also a side trip to Hackberry, Arizona, and the diversion was definitely worth the time, as the Old Route 66 Visitor Center and General Store was a treasure trove of nostaglic signs and knick-knacks. And, as we said, it was just a perfect, sunny day to be on the road--especially this road--in a Corvette.

Once off the road, however, and back at the River Palms event center, it was time to clean 'em up for the People's Choice show 'n' shine. Vettes of every ilk were on hand, brought to Laughlin from 11 states across the Western U.S. The cars were shining, a nice breeze was coming off the river, and cold beverages were close at hand. Awards were given, and the day ended with another rousing show in the event center. The Gambler's Classic has grown by leaps and bounds in its 11 years of existence, and there's a reason for that--when spring has sprung, people want to have fun. And for Corvette fans, there aren't many events that are more fun than this one.


This year's event had a definite Route 66 theme; this stop was near Kingman, Arizona.

Everyone got to pose for a photo before heading out on the poker run.

"Hi, Doug!" Former Blue Bars editors Doug and Mary Hanson made the scene in their sharp '94 coupe.

The Powerhouse actually provided electricity to the Kingman-area residents at one time; now it's a visitor center along old Route 66... the signs clearly point out. Nostaglia for the "Mother Road" is running high in this area of the country.

The Old Route 66 Visitor Center and General Store in Hackberry, Arizona, made for a neat little side trip. The store owner also owns this cool '57 parked at the pumps.

Decisions, decisions...

Now this is a man who has his priorities straight. We like it!

There's nothing like taking the checkered flag!

For entertainment purposes, Corvettes of Bakerfield enlisted "Joey and Maria's Italian Wedding." The caricatures were running rampant, the laughs were many, and most of us ended up singing and dancing with the actors. In short, it was a great way to top off this neat event.


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