It’s not a classic, but its owner was.
And so the North Modesto Kiwanis Club is giving an honorary spot in Friday evening’s American Graffiti Festival parade to the personal car – a 1991 Dodge Stealth – of the late Stanislaus County sheriff’s Deputy Dennis Wallace. Wallace, who was slain in the line of duty in November, was a longtime member of the club.
Brent Burnside, chairman of the Graffiti Festival committee for Kiwanis, said Wallace’s car was mentioned to him by Loren Suelzle, the deputy’s sponsor in the club and a close friend. “I didn’t know at first that it wasn’t a classic like we do, but said ‘Let’s take a look at it,’ ” Burnside, of Burnside Body Shop, said.
Because it wasn’t a 1979-or-older classic, but rather a two-door sports car, “a little five speed,” there was no full restoration to do, he said. But several Kiwanis members and generous business owners worked on it about two months and got it looking pretty sharp.
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The first step was some minor body work and stripping the clear coat, which was peeling, Burnside said. “I’ve seen these fancy graphics done on car wraps, so I thought, let’s make it unique where it can be shown and be noticed,” he said. Harold Avila of Function Graphics created a wrap honoring Wallace and his service in the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department’s D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program.
The design also includes an eagle and U.S. flag.
The car will be driven in the first lap of Friday’s parade by Wallace’s widow, Mercedes, with his brother, Modesto police Detective Dave Wallace, as a passenger.
Several other local donors gave time and materials to honor Dennis Wallace through his car, including: McCoy Tire, brake service and a new set of tires; Colorcoat, powder coating for the wheels; So Fresh & So Clean, full interior detailing; Budget Auto Glass, a new windshield; and California Auto Parts, a variety of parts.
“I’m never surprised at the giving in this community,” Burnside said. “You ask people for help with something good and they come through.”
The Dodge will be one of the lead cars in Friday’s parade. About 1,300 vehicles are expected for the 19th annual event. Aside from the Stealth’s honorary spot, the parade is open only to the classic cars and trucks that have registered for the car show being held Saturday and Sunday at Modesto Municipal Golf Course. The show also features a small exotic and specialty vehicle division.
Friday’s parade begin at 6:30 p.m. at 17th and J streets and heads north on McHenry Avenue. Vehicles will turn around at Orangeburg Avenue and head back downtown to J Street to 10th Street to I Street then to 17th. The parade is scheduled to end at 8:30 p.m., so most vehicles will have time for two laps.
McHenry and several downtown streets will be closed to traffic starting at 3 p.m. Friday. The streets will reopen about 10 p.m.
For more information on the American Graffiti Festival, go to www.americangraffitifestival.com.
Another Graffiti Summer event was held Wednesday evening downtown. There were six more “Legends of the Cruise” inductees into the Historic Cruise Route Walk of Fame: John Sanders, the Modesto Throttlers, Big Jon Enberg (represented by Steve Corgiat), Bobby Gaines of Bell and Gaines, Worth Weldon (represented by Dawn Bristol) and Rick Walker.
To learn more, visit www.modestocruiseroute.com.
Deke Farrow: 209-578-2327