Skip to content

Get your motor running: Barrie Thunder Classics has been for more than two decades (4 photos)

Car lovers' Cruise Night rolls into Heritage Park in downtown Barrie every Wednesday night; helps raise money for local organizations

After 24 years of revving their engines, the Barrie Thunder Classics Cruise Night is still going strong and the car lovers will be at it again tonight.

Heritage Park along the lakeshore in downtown Barrie is the home to the car show every Wednesday night starting at 6 p.m. and ending close to dusk.

John Olthuis, who is the president of Barrie Thunder Classics, says that after this many years, he believes the fascination of the car show draws people in who aren’t even car fanatics for reasons more than just shiny exteriors and big motors.

“This is our 24th year, so next year is the big one being 25 years,” said Olthuis. “I credit the longevity to people just enjoying walking around, looking at old cars, chatting up the owners and learning a few things and enjoying the music.

"It's very casual and is something that can be a nice evening stroll for most," he added. 

Thunder Classics has partnered with the Lawn Chair Luminata, Downtown Barrie’s outdoor movie night, and precedes the show, allowing people to browse the cars before heading over to relax and enjoy a movie.

“We’ve had great feedback with the movie connection, but we’re also very proud to be giving back to the community,” said Olthuis. “All our proceeds this year got to Hospice (Simcoe), last year it was Gilda’s Club.”

Attending the car show is free, but money raised comes from a $10 entry fee for vehicles, fundraising events throughout the year and draws for different items; last week was a Napoleon barbecue.

While some may think that the love of cars from the 1950s and '60s is gone, there seems to be a resurgence in the passion for vehicles, as many young families are getting into the shows.

“We still have many of the older crowd who have been doing these shows long before we started, but we are seeing young people in their 20s, coming out not just to look but also putting their cars in the show,” said Olthuis. “This is definitely a lot of older classics, but we certainly are seeing some later-era vehicles that have been all done up.”

Last Wednesday it was estimated there were more than 300 cars at the Cruise Night, and with weather supposed to be just as perfect tonight, it could be another big event.

Brian Wight and his wife, Cathy, bring their purple 1969 Chevelle Malibu to the Thunder Classics show since the event started.

And while they love showing off their Malibu, they enjoy the social aspect of the car show even more.

“One of my first cars was a Chevelle and Cathy’s first one was a Chevelle, plus we have a ’67 as well,” said Wight.

“We love coming out to the shows," he added. "It's more than just seeing great classics. It's about meeting up with friends and people who you see at different shows in the area.”

For more information on the Barrie Thunder Classics, head to their website.


Shawn Gibson

About the Author: Shawn Gibson

Shawn Gibson is a staff writer based on Barrie
Read more