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On the ground at the 2019 Port Washington Hill Climb

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Marcia Barker of Boonton, New Jersey, zooms toward a second-place finish in her T-bodied Ford Model A. Photos by David Conwill and Dan Beaudry.

Think about the last old-car event you attended. Were the cars sitting still in a parking lot or grassy lawn? You probably walked through, inspected the nice ones, chatted with some friends, acquaintances, and gregarious owners, and then went home. Wouldn’t it have been better to have that experience plus some action?

The Port Washington Hill Climb, held in Port Washington, New York, out on Long Island, offers exactly that. It is put on by the Vintage Flathead Timing Association in conjunction with the Cow Neck Peninsula Historical Society, whom it benefits. It is the brainchild of Jon Ruvio, president of the Vintage Flathead Timing Association and technology teacher at Great Neck South Senior High School. Jon is a young fella with old-school tastes, having guided his students through the creation of a chopped Model A coupe that was raced at The Race of Gentlemen. A number of high-school students and recent grads were on hand assisting with the event and soaking up the sights and sounds of pre-war performance.

Event organizer Jon Ruvio gives Hemmings contributor Kevin Carlson of Bridgewater, Massachusetts, last-minute instructions before he heads up the hill in his 1931 Ford lakes modified, Sassafras.

Having just completed its second running, the event looks headed toward bigger and better things thanks to its instant popularity. It features two parts: A timed hill climb for pre-1935 cars with pre-1954 flathead engines that takes place on a partially closed public road, and a traditional car show after the climbing runs that takes place at the beautiful Sands-Willets House historical site, complete with live music and awards.

We anticipate bringing you expanded coverage of this event in a future issue of Hemmings Motor News, but until then, please enjoy a selection of shots from this past Sunday, June 23, 2019. See you there in 2020?

Ted Haarke, of Wading River, New York, tells us his #75 “was a Sport Coupe at one time.” Now it’s what you’d call a coupester.


The pilot of this 1929 Tudor goes by the handle “Fast Freddie.” He tells us the flatheads-only rule kept his Rajo-headed Ford Model T at home.


The 1932 frame rails under Paul Skene’s 1929 Ford Model A roadster are bare steel. Paul, of Huntington, New York, says he has to re-polish them with sandpaper every spring.


You didn’t have to have a speedster or hot rod to participate. This 1930 Buick Series 40, belonging to Cal Hansen, of Bay Shore, New York, was stock and stately.


Another stocker, this 1931 Ford Model A slant-window Fordor was piloted by Don Schaefer, of Carle Place, New York, with his grandson, also Don, as co-pilot. The younger Don was up from Virginia for the occasion.


Virtually every piece on John Cozza’s ’31 Ford Model A coupe is pre-1940, including the 1937 21-stud flathead V-8. The chrome housing on the cowl is a vintage tachometer. John, from Medford, New York, built this coupe in seven months using pieces he had collected over time.


We didn’t catch the name of the owner of this 1932 Ford cabriolet, but we are told his name is Tom and he’s from Virginia. The flathead-powered Deuce sounded sweet and it moved as good as it looked.


It’s always a treat to see a pre-war Mopar, GM, or independent show up at this type of event, since Fords always predominate. This 1934 Plymouth boasted 1950 Chrysler Spitfire six-cylinder power. The car belongs to Victor Lagomarsino, of Lincoln Park, New Jersey.


Jasper Hooks, from The Bronx, guards his dad, Nick’s, 1963 Dodge Dart wagon. The Dart features a wild vintage-style paint scheme, Raidir mags, and anvil-reliable Slant Six power.


Brian Cholerton, of Islip Terrace, New York, gives Jasper Hooks a ride in his 1929 Ford speedster as he unloads from the trailer. Brian took home first place in the hill climb.


A “one-week homemade whatever” is how Bill Ventura, a Port Washington local, refers to his wood-bodied creation. Model A parts predominated and Bill looked like he was having a ball.


Event organizer Jon Ruvio built this Model A coupe with his students a few years ago and then ran the car at TROG.


Matt Cholerton, of Islip, New York, looked focused as he went up the hill in his 1929 Ford speedster.


Plenty of oldies peppered passing traffic, like this MGA. Some of them showed up at the car show afterward. Others were apparently just out cruising in the nice weather.


The show after the hill climb was held at the Sands-Willets House. There was music, food, and plenty of good company and conversation.