The line of cars wrapping around the Hardee’s on Route 49 late in the afternoon of June 14 had little to do with the chain’s famous Red Burrito.
As they’ve done on the second Friday of every month since 2012, members of the Harrisburg Cruisers gather on the strip of asphalt encircling the fast-food restaurant – occasionally overflowing onto the nearby grass – to show off their mix of muscle and classic cars, answer questions from curious onlookers, and catch up with their fellow enthusiasts.
“We’re here from April until October, and in November we host a toy drive,” says Steve Holstein, president of the Harrisburg Cruisers.
He displayed two vehicles, including a silver 1977 Pontiac Trans Am of “Smokey and The Bandit” fame, on June 14. “That’s really my wife’s car,” he confessed.
The monthly gatherings, which run from 5 to 9 p.m. in Harrisburg, typically draw several dozen vehicles, including classics, like Gene Steelman’s crisp-white 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air, and more modern models, like Glen Reynolds’ lime-green Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat.
The event tends to be a family affair for Gene and Donnie Menius; Gene brought his refurbished 1938 Chevrolet Coup, while his sibling showed off 1963 Chevrolet Impala.
“It was in junkyard condition when I bought it,” Donnie Menius said while sitting on a folding chair in the shade next to his brother. He completed most of the work himself, adding that it took about two years to refurbish the classic that he found “less than 9 miles from his home” in Concord.
Though he owns one of the older models on display, Gene Menius said he bought and refurbished his copper red classic so he could drive it around town.
“We’re just a bunch of good ‘ol boys who love cars, and doing a lot of good for the community.” – Steve Holstein, President of Harrisburg Cruisers
“I bought it to drive,” the 82-year-old Kannapolis resident said, adding that he drove similar vehicles a lot when he first learned how to drive. “That’s all we could afford.”
In addition to a 50/50 raffle held at the monthly rallies, the proceeds from which benefit local charities, Harrisburg Cruisers hosts a toy drive every November, Mr. Holstein said. He notes that several years ago members raised $10,000 to help buy a specially trained dog for a local girl suffering from seizures.
“We’re mostly about American muscle cars and classics, though we have some Volkswagens,” Mr. Holstein said.
“We’re not too picky,” he continued with a laugh. “We’re just a bunch of good ‘ol boys who love cars, and doing a lot of good for the community.”