By LAURA QUEZADA News Review Staff Writer – “This is an opportunity for the city to come out and have a fun day in the park,” says Manny Aranda, Founder and President of Muscle Mustangs. The Ridgecrest Car Show is on Saturday, September 23, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Leroy Jackson Park.
There is still time for vendors to sign up and for folks to register their cars for the event. However, car folks can sign up the day of by getting there as early as 8:00 a.m. You can reach out to organizers through their Muscle Mustangs of Ridgecrest Facebook page.
Lots of great vendors have already signed on, including Casey’s BBQ, Mama Mia Cupcakes, Tacos el Gordito (a taco truck) and a health drinks booth. Wandering about will be Darth Vader’s 501st Legion from Bakersfield dressed as Star Wars characters. Also on board are Soldiers for Christ Bike Club and Misfits Car Club. The animal shelter will bring animals and an adoption booth.
The City of Ridgecrest groundskeepers will make sure everything is set up so that sprinklers don’t get damaged and visitors will be comfortable as they wander around enjoying their day.
There will be lots of music throughout the event. DJ Hitman will be spinning tunes from 9 a.m. until noon and then Ridgecrest rock band Less Than Perfect will play until 3 p.m. “All three members work in the education field (two teachers, one counselor),” says lead singer Eric Lawrence. They are releasing their third Spotify album on September 29, but their single “The Desert Town Shakedown” comes out next week. “It is a tribute to the community here in Ridgecrest,” he says. “For this show, the band will be playing rock ‘n’ roll covers from all eras.”
Historically, the car show was held as part of the Petroglyph Festival. This year it stands alone with big plans for 2024, when the event will take place on Balsam Street from the afternoon until the night. “The city wants to rival Hot August Nights in Reno,” says Aranda. So Ridgecrest can look forward to that.
“We need to keep the car culture alive in Ridgecrest,” says Aranda. “There’s not too much to do in Ridgecrest but we could definitely keep the car culture alive.” Muscle Mustang member Patrick Mooney adds, “I don’t see as much participation from teenagers and young people today concerning cars and car shows. When I was a teenager, it was a reason for me to have a job in order to be able to purchase my first car. I was so excited about being able to drive.”
Mooney’s interest in Mustangs began when the first one showed up in April 1964. “I fell in love with the Mustangs and over the years, I’ve owned several, probably six or seven.” His current car is a limited edition 2019 Bullitt Mustang, “It was built to commemorate the 1968 Steve McQueen movie. It’s not an everyday Mustang. I told Charlon Ford that if they couldn’t have that car here by my 70th birthday, then I wouldn’t buy it. Six months later, on my birthday, they called me and said, ‘Your car’s here.’ “ He doesn’t think young folks will understand the car so he will display pictures and information about Steve McQueen, the movie, and the history of the car.
We wrote about Aranda in the News Review April 21, 2023 edition: Muscle Mustangs and Misfits Car Club holds car meet. He introduced us to his 2012 Shelby Cobra GT-500, which is modeled after a P-51D Mustang, an American long-range, single-seat fighter and fighter-bomber used during World War II. You can read the story at news-ridgecrest.com.
The club has been rebuilding membership in our post-pandemic world. “It used to be a lot bigger pre-COVID,” says Mooney. “The car shows used to be bigger in Ridgecrest with more people coming out. Now, we’re trying to get the word out.
Bring your car. Bring your family. Bring your kids. If you don’t come, you’re missing out.”
This is fun with a purpose. Portions of the funds raised will go to the Ridgecrest Veterans Advisory Committee.