BRISTOL – Despite a cooler and cloudy day, dedicated automobile enthusiasts pulled into the North Side Square parking lot at the corner of North Main Street and North Street for the first Bristol Auto Club Cruise Night of the season.
Formed in 1975, the nonprofit organization has served as a leader in the greater Bristol community for those with a love of the sounds of engines, historical vehicles and meeting with like-minded individuals. Starting Saturday, cruise nights will be held in the same location every first and third Saturday of the month until the fall and are open to anyone having a shared love of vehicles, new and old.
“It was five guys who got together and they decided to create a 501c,” said Club Director of Communications Dave Champagne. “It’s about family fun for downtown Bristol. We’re all about providing that kind of atmosphere.”
On most evenings, he continued, drivers might start showing up at 4:30 to 5 p.m. and at 6 p.m., the parking lot is pretty full, depending on the weather at times.
Husband and wife duo, John Pandiscia and Anne Pandiscia, said they’ve a passion for automobiles and coming to cruise nights often allows them to share that love with fellow fans. Anne drives a 2001 Mustang GT. John drives a 1980 MGB roadster convertible.
“They’re a lot of fun and a nice relaxing time,” said John of the cruise nights. “When I was a kid, I was always working on cars all day and cruising around at night.”
“We met in 1980 when I was 20 and he was 18 and I didn’t have a car yet,” said Anne of John. “He helped find me a ‘69 Mustang and that was my first car. He had a ‘65 Galaxy convertible. We got married in that Galaxy. We go to a lot of car shows and we’ll watch drag racing.”
While the Bristol Auto Club is known for its gathering of automobiles from across the decades, it also holds a Tractor and Commercial Vehicle Show. This year’s event will be held June 4 with a rain date of June 15. The event is slated to start at 5 p.m. and will feature classic farm tractors along with other vehicles. A hula hoop contest will be held for youth, oldies music played, raffle prizes and drawings featured along with awards.
For those interested in becoming members of the organization, they’re encouraged to attend a cruise night and speak with one of the club members. They can also visit the Bristol Auto Club website or Facebook page.