Car meets are a staple of American culture. Especially in the Central Valley, the car meet has been forever memorialized in the great cinema classic, American Graffiti. Filmed in Modesto,California, American Graffiti captured the excitement of cruising down “the strip” and the thrill of drag racing from stoplight to stoplight. In fact, director of American Graffiti, George Lucas, is confirmed as Grand Marshall for the annual “Graffiti Summer Parade” next Summer. All across the Central Valley, weekly car meets happen every week. Except nowadays, the majority of teenagers attending are driving souped up Honda’s, Nissan’s and Mitsubishi’s instead of the Ford’s, Chevrolet’s and Pontiac’s of yesteryear. But what remains is the spirit of friendship, camaraderie and fun.
The weekly car meet is important for a lot of reasons. For one, it builds a sense of community and friendship amongst fellow car owners. In a day in age where social media has pushed away the personal connection amongst friends, the car meet still has a prerequisite of actually owning a car and meeting people face to face. Take any Friday night in Fresno and you’ll see hundreds of cars parked in groups all over. In Fresno you can see car upon car cruise down Blackstone Ave. with windows down and music on blast.
A car meet allows us to be accountable for how someone modifies their car. One meet you might say to your friends how you’ll do this and that to your car, add a turbocharger and upgrade the suspension. Sooner or later your friends will bug you and pester you to get your butt moving if you show up week after week with nothing done.
A car meet is a wealth of collective information. You might have a problem working on your car and although you don’t know anyone who has the solution to your problem, 9 times out of 10 someone knows someone who does. It might be as simple as where the cheapest place to get your tires mounted or as shady as where is the best place to smog your car where the technician will turn a blind eye to a gutted catalytic converter.
All in all, the weekly car meet is just about unwinding and having fun. Commonly called “shooting the breeze” you’ll find yourself spending hours just gossiping about who has what under the hood or who’s really the fastest among the parking lot. After everyone meets, you can expect the hangout to continue at a restaurant or just at a friend’s house to wrench on someone’s car.
Weekly car meets shouldn’t be a place to disturb the peace or cause a ruckus. Car enthusiasts owe a debt of respect to the city for allowing them a wide open space to meet with lighting paid by our fellow taxpayers. In short, the car meet isn’t the time to coat a strip of rubber on the asphalt or set up a drag race on the street nearby.
Car meet’s are an essential part of the American fabric of car culture and as long as there are cars on the road, people will meet up in all sorts of places. Long live the weekly car meet.