There’s something about classic cars that can bring people from all walks of life together.
If you were to ask Glen Anderson, he would say that thing is nostalgia.
“It’s the memories,” he said as he looked across the Village of Yesteryear at the sea of vehicles sparkling in the summer sun. “These shows bring people together to see old friends and remember old times.”
Living in Owatonna, Anderson has attended Gus’ Station Car Show for a number of years. Always held in July, the event hosted by the Steele County Historical Society has brought in cars of all kinds — new and old, domestic and imports — to bring people out to the History Center and get lost in the machinery.
This year, however, Anderson was more than just an attendant to the show. Throughout the day Saturday, he proudly stood alongside the sprint car built and raced by his father, Greg Anderson.
“My dad used to race this car at the State Fair,” Anderson said, adding his father was an avid racer from 1958-1962. “He had an accident at the State Fair and broke his back, which ended his career, but he was a passionate sprint car driver who dreamed of going to the Indy 500.”
When his father could no longer race, Anderson said the car he built from the ground up was sold in the ‘80s. Anderson himself was able to locate the vehicle and purchase it back in 2003, fully restoring it to its former glory in 2015. Before his father died, Anderson said they would put the car on display at shows together.
“The first thing Dad always wanted to do was put little kids in the seat,” Anderson laughed. “He loved that.”
During this year’s show, Anderson embodied his father after 5-year-old Huck Brekke, of Owatonna, became enamored by the purple sprint car. Anderson cleared the front seat and placed Brekke behind the wheel, lighting up the faces of everyone in the area. Brekke’s mother said hot rods have always been a part of the family, so it was no surprise the young boy felt drawn to the sprint car over all the other vehicles at the show.
The show itself serves as a fundraiser for the Service Bay that has been proposed to go next to Gus’ Station in the Village of Yesteryear, which would house the Alexander truck, Meixner 1919 Dodge and other Owatonna Tool Company artifacts relating to the automotive industry. The addition will provide storage, as well as a work area.
With material costs on the rise, the most current quote SCHS have received for the project is an estimated $500,000. According to SCHS Executive Director Kellen Hinrichsen, they were sitting around $45,000 prior to this year’s event. While the dollars and cents are still being counted, Hinrichsen said it looks like the event was a success with more than 140 cars on display.
“I am incredibly happy with the turnout,” Hinrichsen said, noting there were 32 more cars registered this weekend than in 2021. “More than the amount of cars, though, is how much the community came out. Yes, we had a lot of those presenting their car, but the people who came out to see everything and take it all in — that is what makes me happy.”
While the Best in Show award went to a classic 1929 Buick, Brekke still insisted the sprint car hiding in the shade was the best vehicle of the day.
The temperatures are heating up, and local emergency responders say it may be a good idea to start looking for ways to cool down over the next few days to avoid potentially dangerous conditions like heat exhaustion or stroke.
Steele County Emergency Management Director Kristen Sailer said the most important thing for people to do during the next few days of high temperatures and humidity is to drink plenty of fluids, take as many breaks in the shade as possible and listen to their bodies.
“It’s important for everyone to check on their neighbors, friends, family and children during the heat and high humidity,” Sailer said. “It’s going to be important to stay cool and keep the body temperature low.”
Steele County is currently in a heat advisory until Tuesday evening, with possible warnings to pop up. Heat indices were expected to near 100 through Monday evening and Tuesday afternoon.
While the temperatures of this summer haven’t been the hottest in the last century and a half, according to Chris O’Brien, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Chanhassen, 2022 is in the top 10 so far, and it is likely going to bump up a couple of spots before the summer ends.
“These temperatures aren’t unusual for this time of year,” O’Brien said. “We almost always have a string of days like this at some point.”
Last year, according to O’Brien, the average temperature throughout the summer was 76 degrees, and the average temperature for July was 74.3. This year’s average temperature has been slightly higher than last year at 76.6 degrees.
While the temperatures and humidity will be high and dangerous during the day, O’Brien also warns that temperatures won’t drop significantly during the evening for the next couple of days.
“There’s not a lot of relief that will come at night,” O’Brien said. “That’s why it’s so important to stay hydrated during the day, take breaks, stay in the shade and get as cool as possible during the night.”
Prolonged exposure to high temperatures puts people at greater risk of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Sailer said symptoms could progress rapidly without medical intervention.
“For those who don’t have access to air conditioning at home, staying with a friend or family member would be a good idea this week,” she said. “Also, be sure to check on your neighbors and friends.”
Other options for staying cool throughout the day would be to take a break in a public place with adequate air conditioning and ensure plenty of water is on hand and available. Sailer said if you begin to feel heat stroke symptoms, call 911 and seek medical attention immediately.