SIDNEY – Keith McLain, of Sidney, has been around cars all his life.
His father built and raced stock cars and McLain spent almost every summer weekend of his childhood at one area race track or another.
He still has a 1933 Plymouth that had belonged to his dad. That’s the car he takes to car shows and cruise-ins. He’ll take it to a car show scheduled for June 29, 2019, in Tawawa Park in Sidney which is one of Shelby County’s bicentennial events.
The show is being organized by a committee convened by the Shelby County Historical Society, and McLain is on the committee.
But the show will have a personal connection to the long-time aficionado. It’s been named for his late son, Anthony, a popular Sidney firefighter who died in November.
“I was touched when they named the car show after Tony,” McLain said. “I know it’s an honor for his family.”
The Anthony McLain Bicentennial Car Show will run from noon and 5 p.m. Registration will open at 10 a.m. There is no registration fee. The park Wagner Glen will be closed to the public from 10 a.m. umtol noon while all participants are taking their place for the show.
Bridget McLain and her sons will award a trophy in memory of her husband, Anthony McLain. A People’s Choice Trophy will be voted on by all the participants. Trophies will be awarded at 4:45 p.m.
The first 100 cars will be given a dash plaque and a goodie bag. Door prizes will be awarded every 15 minutes starting at noon.
There is no admission fee to see or to participate in the show.
“I’d love for everyone to come out. It’s a nice car show they’re putting on,” McLain said.
He has exhibited his Plymouth at shows as far away as Lima and south of Dayton. Because he drives the car to the shows, rather than trailering it, he does not take it to neighboring states.
“Everybody looks at it when you go by,” he said.
McLain’s car is original, not modified, and it’s getting more and more difficult to find parts. At one show, a visitor noticed that one of the bezels on the butterfly hood was broken.
“I can make one,” the visitor said. And he did. Not long after, when McLain and his sister were cleaning out their father’s house, they found a bowl full of the bezels.
When the recent cruise-in in Hardin ended, the Plymouth wouldn’t start. The battery was dead. McLain got a friend to jump it and was able to get the car home, where he found that the regulator on the generator was broken.
“A dead short was draining the battery,” he said. “It took me three days to find (a regulator) on the Internet.”
McLain’s father and brother were mechanics and he, now a retired firefighter and Navy veteran of the Vietnam War, learned enough to rebuild engines.
“The older cars were lots easier to work on,” he noted.
The Plymouth has always carried historical tags. The speedometer records 21,000 miles. The car has just one windshield wiper.
“Back then, everything cost you extra. Want a heater? Want a radio? It costs extra,” McLain laughed. There is a heater, but no radio. One wiper was enough for whoever originally ordered the car. It operates by vacuum. If the engine revs up, the wiper stops working, because the engine takes the vacuum to get up to speed.
That’s the kind of information McLain and other car owners can share with visitors at the Anthony McLain Bicentennial Car Show.
“We think this show is going to be extra-special,” said Tilda Phlipot, director of the historical society. “The bicentennial celebrates the county’s rich history, and cars have always been a part of that history. The park is a beautiful place to display vehicles that mean a lot to their owners and a beautiful place for people to hear the stories of how the cars have been loved and restored.”