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Something for everyone at the Rod Run

Kenny Kemp
Cars and crowds line Kanawha Boulevard during last year's annual Rod Run and Doo Wop in Charleston. This year's event runs Thursday through Sunday.
WANT TO GO?Charleston Boulevard Rod Run & Doo WopWHERE: Kanawha Boulevard from Capitol Street to Magic IslandWHEN: 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. SundayCOST: Free INFO: Call 888-436-6967 or visit www.charlestonwvcarshow.com_____CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Jim Winter doesn't want anyone think the annual Charleston Boulevard Rod Run and Doo Wop is just for race fans, classic car nuts or hardcore gearheads who live and breathe high octane. There's something for just about everyone -- at least, that's what he thinks.Winter, the vice president of the Rod Run, said, "We've really made this thing to be for a broad audience."The festival kicks off its eighth year in Charleston Thursday with attractions, activities, vendors and approximately 1,000 classic cars on Kanawha Boulevard, stretching from Capitol Street to Magic Island.For younger audiences, the festival will have inflatable slides and Jupiter Jumps, as well as a balloon animal-constructing clown. "And kids get a kick out of monster trucks," Winter said. "We're going to have Big Foot at Magic Island, and Saturday afternoon we're going to give it eight cars to crush."These, Winter promised, would be junkers, not the show cars on display all weekend long.The VP of the Rod Run also thought most people would be impressed by some of the festivals demonstrations. Givens Machine Shop will be assembling a small block engine Saturday at 2:30 p.m., followed by a presentation by the Nitro Antique Car Club.Winter said, "We're going to take a pile of rusty parts, and, in under five minutes, we're going to build a running, driving Model T-Ford."The Nitro Antique Club will do this with only seven men.
"It's like clockwork," Winter said. "When they put this thing together, they crank start the car, and one of the guys drives it off. That's just pretty neat for people to see."He added that their best time was four minutes and two seconds.As in pervious years, the Rod Run will have plenty of music, though not all of it will be Doo Wop. Thursday night, Riverjam, a band made up the original members of Wilson Pickett's Mustang Sally Band, will perform songs from the '50s and '60s."But Friday night we're turning it over to country for the night," Winter said. "A lot of people like country. So we have Gage -- they're a local band -- followed by Confederate Railroad, who were pretty big country stars back in the day."On Saturday, the Rod Run puts the bop back in the hop with pure doo-wop music from The Diamonds."There's also going to be a Shops At Doo Wop, which is something we think we'll appeal more to women," Winter said. "They'll sell jewelry, crafts, cosmetics, things women who don't care much for cars might like."
For the car curious, Winter suggested people check out "racer row" on the Boulevard, which will have a pair of '60s-era dragsters: the Hundley & Boggs top fuel dragster and the Hunt Family Farms car."We're going to start them up twice a day," he said. "For anyone who has never heard a hemi running on nitro/methane, it's a sound all it's own. You'll need to bring your own earplugs for sure."Winter said there was also a smell to it."It's like what you find at one the big drag races. There's nothing like it in Charleston."At dusk, he added, people should be able to see the flames shooting from the engine's exhaust.There's a lot for all kinds of people, Winter said, but it's still an event for people who love cars. Returning this year and growing, he said is the Rod Run's swap meet, a market for people who deal in rare or hard-to-find car parts.A classic car is like any other car. Parts wear out with time and use."That's really for our dedicated crowd of gearheads," he said. "We're doing that all four days."Most of all it's a chance for people who love cars (and the people who love them) to get together, mingle and maybe talk shop over a couple of corn dogs."Oh, yeah, we've got food, too," Winter said. Reach Bill Lynch at or 304-348-5195.
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