Not Just Another Car Show
By Nancy Temple Rodrigue
Nancy is co-author of 'Hidden Mickey',the Disney Adventure/Mystery Novels
Lompoc, California. Coastal mountains. Flower fields. Wine tasting. Nitro methane fumes. Wall murals. Ocean breezes.
Wait a minute. Something doesn’t fit… Mountains – check. Flowers – check. Ahh. Nitro methane fumes and the screaming whine of a top fuel dragster revving out. Not something normally heard in Lompoc, a quiet community of about 42,000.
But, October 21, 2006 wasn’t a normal day for Lompoc. It was the day over 2000 local residents and visitors came for the Josh Heilbron Benefit Car and Cycle Show. Ryon Park was filled with 125 classic cars, hot rods and motorcycles, a top fuel dragster, an alcohol dragster, and nostalgia funny cars - all in support of local resident, mechanic, car and bike enthusiast Josh Heilbron. Josh, age 28, had been battling an aggressive cancer that spread throughout his body. His friends, and most of the business community, came out to give support and raise money to help him in his battle. The show sold over 1800 raffle tickets, 480 chicken dinners, and raised almost $12,000 on Josh’s behalf.
Ryon Park visitors got to examine up close and personal Choppers, Model A’s, T- Buckets, GTOs, T-Birds, Chevys, Woodies, Vickies, and Drag Boats. Some entrants drove 175 miles from Los Alamitos in Southern California. Others drove even further from Bakersfield in the Central Valley to be here.
Ron Anzalone brought his 1923 T-Bucket Dragster, the “Tea Pot”, a straight 6 cylinder that does the quarter mile in 9.28 seconds. Besides handing out pictures and autographs, Ron played a video of his latest runs at the 15th Annual Hot Rod Reunion at Famoso Raceway in Bakersfield, California. The Tea Pot was gleaming and ready for another show the very next day in Las Vegas. As soon as the Lompoc event ended, Ron had to start out on this 400 mile trip. Everyone was thrilled Ron could still come out and support Josh.
Sean Bellemeur came with the Las Vegas Plaza Hotel & High Speed Motorsports AA/FD Top Fuel Dragster, meeting and greeting the public with his crew. The highlight of the day came when the winner of the Hot Seat Raffle got to sit behind the wheel and then fire up the dragster – something just about unheard of in a small, local car show. But it wasn’t ‘unheard’ for long. After the smiling winner suited up in protective gear, the engine lit up. As the decibel level rose, ears were plugged and eyes started streaming as the nitro fumes drifted over the crowd. But not one person backed away. The envious spectators cheered and clapped when he climbed out.
Ron and Sean were asked why they would come to a little town like Lompoc with their nationally known cars. Both men – and members of their teams – have had family or friends touched by cancer. They didn’t even hesitate when they were invited. They both said, “We’ll be there. What do you need?”
There were 24 trophies awarded at the end of the show. One of the trophy winners was Dale Adams of Santa Maria with his military-green 1923 Indian Scout motorcycle whose top speed is a screaming 43 mph. Dale is seen at many of the local car shows dressed out in an old flight jacket and green half helmet. When not riding around the show area, the one-cylinder Scout is propped up on its stand, drawing a lot of attention and praise.
Another trophy winner, in the Custom/Handcrafted Cars category, was a viper blue 1967 427 S.C. Cobra owned by Harold Gumm of Lompoc. That was probably the first of many awards the beautiful car will be winning in the years to come.
In the days leading up to the show, there was worry that Josh might not be well enough to attend. He had been admitted to the hospital to undergo more chemotherapy and radiation, and was just released the day before the show. It was hoped that he would pick the winning raffle tickets, hand out the trophies, and be the first to sit behind the wheel of the dragster. However, that didn’t happen. He was a little too tired to do all of that, so Josh chose his step-mother to take his place in the Plaza Car. While she was sorry Josh wasn’t up to it, she was delighted for the opportunity. His 6-year old daughter Brianna helped with the raffle tickets.
As he was being pushed around the park in his wheelchair, Josh was overwhelmed by the number of people who had come out in his support. There weren’t many dry eyes when he tried to thank everyone around him for all they had done.
The next day when Josh was speaking to one of the organizers of the event, he said, “Next year when we do the show for somebody else with cancer, I want to work with you guys.”
Yes, the money raised was wonderful, but the love, support and hope it gave Josh are the things that are important. No one can make the hurt go away, but each of us can give support and encouragement. Everyone was glad to be there. That’s what it was all about.
Sadly Josh Heilbron passed away on July 15, 2007 at 29 yrs. old
He was a
resident of Lompoc, CA
many of you may have known him as a local business owner.
He owned/operated Coast Customs, 436 North 8th Street, Lompoc, CA,
where he helped many of us with our Custom Car and Cycle needs.
Josh was a Hot Rod and Cycle enthusiast, and this Benefit Car Show was to assist him with his
massive radiation and chemo-therapy treatments at Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara.
We came to his aid by having this Custom Car and Motorcycle Show in his behalf,
giving 100% of all proceeds to him to continue the uphill fight he was battling.
With your support a total of $12,000.00 was raised that directly went to Josh.
Thanks also goes out to Marian Cancer Center and Cruzin' for Life for their support
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