Each year the Inland Empire is overrun by antique, classic and muscle cars. But the Route 66 Cruisin’ Reunion is far more than just a car show.

What’s become a summertime tradition, held downtown Ontario, California, is an overall festival.  With the main attraction being festival-goers in their computer-less cars parading up and down the main drag.

The annual free event attracts more than 150,000 Southern Californians that enjoy 22-blocks of automotive nostalgia and family-friendly fun.

I sat down with Micahel Krouse and Sue Oxarart of the Ontario Convention and Visitor’s Bureau to get all the details in this iDriveSoCal Podcast.  Press play below to hear how you can get your kick’s at this year’s Route 66 Cruisin’ Reunion and enjoy some cool pics from recent year’s events.

***Transcript***

Recorded September 11, 2018, in Ontario, CA

Cruisin’ Nostalgia

Micahel Krouse: It’s over 1000 classic cars and over 150,000 attendees come to this event so it’s food, fun, carnival rides and kids events.  The cruising part of it is what they all want and they can cruise more than 22 blocks, and that’s significant to these car buffs.

It’s a tree-lined street so they’re not sitting in direct sunlight. Anybody who registers can cruise.

Tom Smith: Welcome to iDriveSoCal, the podcast all about mobility from the automotive capital of the United States, southern California. Tom Smith here and I am at Ontario Convention Center out in the Los Angeles suburb of Ontario, California.

Joining me is Michael Krouse.   The president and CEO of the Ontario Convention and Visitor’s Bureau as well as Sue Oxarart. The marketing director of the Ontario Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. Thank you both for joining me today.

Michael Krouse: Thanks Tom.

Sue Oxarart: Thank you for having us Tom and congratulations on getting those names right, that’s a mouthful.

Michael Krouse: That’s the hardest part.

Route 66 Cruisin’ Reunion
Friday, 9/21 from 5P-11P
Saturday, 9/22 from 9A-12M

Tom Smith: Thank you. The topic today is the Route 66 Cruisin’ Reunion car show and now we’re actually… did I say that right? Route 66 Cruisin’ or is it Cruisin’ Reunion Route 66?

Sue Oxarart: You did it right the first time. Route 66 Cruisin’ Reunion.

Tom Smith: Alright, don’t second guess yourself.

“…the show itself is always on the third weekend in the month of September…”

Michael Krouse: No, go with your first … go with your gut.

6th Annual Event & Going Strong

Tom Smith: The Route 66 Cruisin’ Reunion car show. Now this is the sixth annual event and we’re gonna get into the nuts and bolts of it in just a couple of moments but with iDriveSoCal being… well we’re coming up on a year old.

I start each podcast, you know, from the automotive capital of the United States, Southern California, the Route 66 element is very significant there and I love that you guys tie that into your car show.

First, let’s give a quick couple minutes on your car show and we’ll talk a little bit about Route 66 and then sprinkle in car show too. So, what are the vital statistics on the Route 66 Cruisin’ Reunion?

“…it’s over a 1,000 classic cars and over 150,000 attendees come to this event so it’s food, fun, carnival rides, kids events…”

Michael Krouse: I’ll throw a few key points that people need to know when considering coming to this event and not considering when they arrive and when they come-

Tom Smith: Of course, they’re coming, they’re coming.

Michael Krouse: So, the show itself is always on the third weekend in the month of September so, that’s an easy thing to remember.  You never need to remember the dates, however, this year’s event will start on Friday the 21st and it will run from 5:00 to 11:00 on that day and then the next day Saturday, September 22nd will be from 9:00 AM until midnight.

Antique, Classic & Muscle Too!

And the key things you need to know about this is it’s not just the car show itself which are all classic, historic cars.

And this year we did add one new element that’s important to note and that’s that we’re now… in the previous five years, we required you to have a 1975 year or older-

Tom Smith: Okay.

Michael Krouse: Now you can go to 1988 and older and that is so that we can bring in the muscle cars and our visitors or attendees.

These car buffs, all kind of told us that’s something we’re missing and so we’ve added it this year so that’s a new thing that people want to pay attention to. And then this year we also added a second stage to the event so we have entertainment as well.

Tom Smith: Okay.

Michael Krouse: So entertainment on Ontario Town Square and then we also have the second stage this year which is unique so that we have experienced throughout the many blocks of this event.

Remember, it’s over a 1,000 classic cars and over 150,000 attendees come to this event so it’s food, fun, carnival rides, kids events.

There are places for people to buy different car memorabilia, souvenirs, things like that so it’s quite a big thing. So, to give you a couple of quick things so people understand, this is a unique show in that you can cruise during this show.

“…the cruising part of it is what they all want and they can cruise more than 22 blocks…”

Tom Smith: Okay.

Michael Krouse: And that in itself is critical to why the show has grown so rapidly in the course of these six years.

Now six years and the growth of that show is critical because of this cruising and the cruising part of it is what they all want and they can cruise more than 22-blocks.

And that’s significant to these car buffs and it’s a tree-lined street so they’re not sitting in direct sunlight, et cetera.

Tom Smith: So, what is that … so I can bring my own car and cruise or are there designated cruising vehicles that are going around the cruising course?

Register Your Car and Cruise!

Michael Krouse: Anybody who registers can cruise.

Tom Smith: Anybody that registers … okay, so if I have a car that is now as of this year, 88 or older and I register and is registration still open, is it open until the very end?

Michael Krouse: It’s open that you could even do it the day of.

Tom Smith: Okay, so providing you have a car that qualifies and you register, you can cruise.

Michael Krouse: That’s correct.

Tom Smith: Alright.

Michael Krouse: And provided you carry insurance.

Tom Smith: Of course.

Michael Krouse: And provided your car passes our inspection, meaning cars under repair or cars that are not in good condition are not part of the show.

Tom Smith: Sure.

Michael Krouse: So you bring your car if you want to show off your hot, cool car.

Tom Smith: Of course.

Michael Krouse: The cars are the show. I remind everybody of that so that’s critical so that is a very accurate depiction. Vendors and sponsors this year are extensive, that always is a big part of the experience but this year we also … what is it Sue, it’s 75-foot Ferris wheel?

“…we brought in splash dogs and we also have a couple of great animal shelters here in our local area that will benefit from everything that we’re doing.”

Sue Oxarart: Yes, you went crazy this year.

Michael Krouse: I went a little wild this year.

Sue Oxarart: Yeah, decided to go with a big Ferris wheel and we also thought, it’s the year of the dog so let’s take Route 66 Cruisin’ Reunion and just go dog crazy.

So, we brought in splash dogs and we also have a couple of great animal shelters here in our local area that will benefit from everything that we’re doing.

But it’s part of the fun family entertainment, I mean this is all free and it’s great for families to come together and you know, you see Grandpa within an eight-year-old explaining what these classic cars are about.

It’s a fabulous, great event.

Tom Smith: That’s what car shows are all about.

Michael Krouse: And I think another unique thing, you know, speaking of the family thing…

I don’t want to get too sidetracked on that but the family part of it, a lot of these folks that spend their lives and their last dime on restoring these cars.

A lot of these folks even make a classic little mini version of their classic car for their kid. So, their kid will be in a pedal car that matches the historic car so that’s pretty cool.

Tom Smith: Of course.

Period Musical Acts Take the Stage

Michael Krouse: But I think back to the entertainment too ’cause I want people to know that this goes on late into the evening which makes for great entertainment experience.

This year we have a bunch of different bands that will be fun but let me give you a couple of names: Bluffet which is the Jimmy Buffet knock off, let’s not forget Hotel California. I’ll leave that to your imagination but you know exactly what…

Tom Smith: Sure, that’s the ACDC knock-off right?

Michael Krouse: How about Voyage which is

Tom Smith: Journey.

Michael Krouse: Journey and what was the other one Sue, I’m forgetting?

Sue Oxarart: Oh, we actually… it’s kind of fun on Saturday we’re gonna kind of through the decade so, we’re gonna start off with doo-op and then we’re gonna go into the British invasion.

You know, we’ll work our way, all the way up obviously to the 80s and I’ll tell you, this guy Hugo from Voyage, I don’t know how he looks so much like Steve Perry but he’s got his voice too, it’s just amazing.

“Saturday we’re gonna [go] through the decade so, we’re gonna start off with doo-wop and then… into the British invasion [and] work our way, all the way up… to the 80s…”

Michael Krouse: It is fun. So, the entertainment value is really neat this year and we do find that the key part of this show is the entertainment and our amphitheater downtown. Which I had mentioned, that does during the summer months.

We do between 1,000 and 8,000 people there on a given evening for events so it will be a guest experience…

Join 150,000 for Family-Friendly Fun!

Tom Smith: And in between the two days that this show’s going on this year, you anticipate 150,000 people through… that’s significant.

Michael Krouse: That’s correct.

Sue Oxarart: That’s a lot of people.

Michael Krouse: A lot of people.

Tom Smith: Especially you only been doing it for six years, right?

Michael Krouse: Yeah.

Sue Oxarart: Yep.

Tom Smith: Alright, good for you guys.

Michael Krouse: But they’ve done… but these guests are loyal. They come year after year and they tell their friends. I’ve gotten five calls today from people saying, “Michael, I want to come, I didn’t… I don’t think I got in fast enough.” I said, “You’re fine, you’re fine, come on, we’re ready for you.”

Tom Smith: Perfect and as you point out, good family-friendly fun, that’s the best thing of it all and the bonding from generation to generation… absolutely love that.

Now it’s a free event for everybody but is it free to register my car as well or do I have to pay a little bit to register?

Cruisin’ Reunion – Free to Attend 

Sue Oxarart: You do have to pay to register. If you register in advance, it would have been $65. The day of the event, let’s say you hear about this and say oh I have to be there, I gotta bring out my car, you can come and register the day of for $75 and that includes both days.

Route 66 Cruisin’ Reunion
Friday, 9/21 5P-11P
Saturday, 9/22 9A-12M

Tom Smith: Got it, got it. And you get to cruise with that.

Sue Oxarart: You get to cruise and you get a chance to get into the awards. There is, of course, awards when you’ve got these classic cars, that’s a lot of what people are looking for.

Michael Krouse: So a couple of the awards before-

Tom Smith: Go ahead.

Michael Krouse: Since she brought up the awards, don’t forget best of class stock.

So, the ’20s, ’30s, ’40s, ’50s, ’60s, ’70s and ’80s era cars and then don’t forget best of class modified so, ’20s, ’30s, ’40s, ’50s, ’60s, ’70s, ’80s eras and then the winners will be announced during the event.

Tom Smith: Alright.

Michael Krouse: So you don’t have to wait.

Tom Smith: Excellent. Now the Route 66 tie-in, obviously we cut right through Route 66 here but I’m 40… I’m in my mid-40s, I’m 46.

Route 66 to me is we were just talking off mic, it’s in some songs, it’s, you know, it’s a sign that I see from time to time but just high level, summarize Route 66 and its importance and then bring it home here to your event. I think Sue, you want to take this one?

Michael Krouse: Sue’s the master, she’s the master of history born and raised here.

Historic Route 66

Sue Oxarart: I love history, I used to work for Huell Howser so I think I’ve always loved history but Route 66 is iconic. It’s the mother road as it’s called and it’s actually 200,448 miles. It goes from Chicago, Illinois to Santa Monica, California.

It actually got started about 1926, it was in an era called, you know,  the dust bowl of the 30s and it was the great migration of people that were coming out west, you know, it was kind of that wave of discovering California and coming out here to, of course, be rich. And so, it got…

Tom Smith: Everybody’s rich in California.

Sue Oxarart: Of course.

Michael Krouse: Of course we are.

Sue Oxarart: Yeah, not.

Michael Krouse: Not.

Tom Smith: Not. I can say not too.

Michael Krouse: Yeah, we are with you.

Sue Oxarart: I think really what made Route 66 stand out was when John Steinbeck wrote his novel The Grapes of Wrath because that was actually 1940.

And that’s when he started referring to it as the main street of America.  It was really considered that iconic road that so many people used to come out and you know, become rich famous celebrities in California like all of us.

“…that iconic road so many people used to come out… and become rich famous celebrities in California like all of us.”

So, here you know for us, we represent the greater Ontario Convention and Visitor’s Bureau which is two cities, the city of Ontario and the city of Rancho Cucamonga.

And as a destination marketing organization what we’re doing is inviting people nationally and internationally to come here and discover this area.

In the Heart of Southern California

We’re right in the middle of Southern California so you can come here, stay here, play here and then you can go everywhere else. So, in one hour you can get up to Big Bear Mountain, you can get out to the high desert, you can get to the Temecula winery region, you can get to the happiest place on Earth, the Pacific Ocean and of course Hollywood.

It’s a great place to come and stay and enjoy either a leisure vacation or something like Route 66 Cruisin’ Reunion, which we do get people from all over the nation and even internationally that come for this event. It’s amazing.

“We’re right in the middle of Southern California so you can come here, stay here, play here and then you can go everywhere else.”

Michael Krouse: Well what was the year Sue that we had all of the whole mustang gang from New Zealand? I think we had 10 or 12 Mustangs that these guys drive [crosstalk 00:12:03]

Tom Smith: They brought their Mustangs from New Zealand?

Michael Krouse: They fly in from New Zealand and they rent Mustangs and drive Route 66 across the country, kind of a cool thing and they came to our show three years ago, fours years ago if I remember.

Annual Downtown Ontario Auto Show

So, there’s a lot of neat things that this drives. It definitely drives, you know, friendships, family all those things. It’s part of the California and US experience, you’re the car culture.

“They fly in from New Zealand and they rent Mustangs and drive Route 66 across the country…”

Tom Smith: Right on. Well, again the dates of the event are

Michael Krouse: Friday, September 21st and Saturday, September 22nd.

Tom Smith: And it’s the sixth annual Route 66 Cruisin’ Reunion … easy for me to say, I haven’t had my afternoon coffee. Route 66 Cruisin’ Reunion right downtown Ontario?

Michael Krouse: Right on historic Euclid Avenue which intersects with Foothill Boulevard which is historic Route 66 and I’d add one more thing-

Tom Smith: Please do.

Michael Krouse: Don’t forget that when you visit here, enjoy all the other options that are available here. We have the arena, we have the convention center here, we have a lot of other fun activities for people to do while they’re here.

Make it an Overnight 

So, enjoy that but stay a couple days, don’t just come for Route 66, stay a few more days.

Tom Smith: Go ahead.

Michael Krouse: And don’t forget the website.

Route 66 Cruisin’ Reunion
Friday, 9/21 5P-11P
Saturday, 9/22 9A-12M

Sue Oxarart: Which is gocvb.org so gocvb.org.  You can find out all the information on everything our area has to offer and all the details on Route 66 Cruisin’ Reunion.

Tom Smith: Okay, one more time with the website. It’s go CVB so, Convention Visitor’s Bureau

Sue Oxarart: Dot org.

Tom Smith: Dot org.

Sue Oxarart: You got it.

Michael Krouse: So gocvb.org.

Tom Smith: Convention Visitor’s Bureau dot org.

Michael Krouse: So Greater Ontario Convention and Visitor’s Bureau dot org. Gocvb.org.

Tom Smith: Three different places.

Michael Krouse: And by the way, you will … if you put in any of those names, any of those things we mentioned it will come to us, so don’t worry.

Tom Smith: Alright, perfect. Sue and Michael of the Ontario Convention and Visitor’s Bureau as well the Route 66 Cruisin’ Reunion. Thank you so much, appreciate you being on the show and for iDriveSoCal, I am Tom Smith. Thank you as always for listening.