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Corvettes and classic cars take to Packard museum

WARREN — For the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the annual car show hosted by the National Packard Museum was on display with a bounty of cars for enthusiasts Saturday afternoon.

The museum partnered with the Mahoning Valley Corvette Club to present The Corvettes and Classics Car Show.

Among those in the crowd was Corvette fan Bob Lanning of Warren. He said it was his first time visiting the National Packard Museum, but his life has revolved around cars since he was 16.

“I like to meet people, talk to the car owners and get information on the cars. Just about everyone here will have a story about their car, whether its a short story or something they bought way back when and had it forever,” Lanning said.

Walking around and checking out the classic cars and more than 80 different Corvettes, Lanning put his knowledge of cars to the forefront and was able to determine the year the vehicle was built without having to look at the description provided.

For the museum’s executive director, Mary Ann Porinchak, and museum board president William Dennis Jr., Saturday’s event was a very welcome change — compared to the parade the museum had last year.

“We are ecstatic. It’s great to see people on the grounds, all the cars and the band playing. It’s so important to us,” Porinchak said. “Having a year off was hard on us, but seeing it all come together is kind of like the party after the lull.”

Jason Mauro, an officer with Mahoning Valley Corvette Club, agreed that seeing the amount of people at the event was incredible.

“It’s overwhelming the amount of people who took time to support the National Packard Museum. We’ve got people from all over the region with Corvettes, classics, trucks and people trailered their cars in from Michigan and Minnesota to be here to support the museum,” Mauro said. “It shows what the museum means to people.”

Porinchak added the event serves as a source of revenue for the museum, so taking a year off hurt not only the museum, but those who take their vehicles to the shows.

“There’s a lot of guys who haven’t had their cars out for a while,” she said. “Shows like this are very important to the car club culture and the individuals as well. This is their social outlet. They’ve worked really hard on these cars, kept them in pristine condition and letting them sit is not good for the cars.”

Dennis said this year’s event serves as a reprieve for car enthusiasts.

“I think people are willing to come out after the COVID-19 mess, and I think they’re chomping at the bit. It gives people who haven’t seen each other in a while a chance to congregate and show what they’ve been working on,” Dennis said. “It’s important to them socially and it’s important to us for revenue.”

With COVID-19 putting a damper on every facet of life, Lanning said not having any shows was a let down.

“Absolutely disappointing. I’ve been a car guy since I was 16. I stayed home and played it safe,” Lanning said. ” I hardly went anywhere. 2020 is a lost year in my life.”

nhawthorne@tribtoday.com

Last year, the museum and the Mahoning Valley Corvette Club hosted a parade as a source of fundraising for the museum and to help bring some sense of normalcy for car enthusiasts. This year, however, Dennis said conversations with those who wanted to come to an in-person show was part of the driving force behind this year’s event.

“I’ve said throughout the whole thing that caution is important but to be paralyzed by fear, and being in your house for over a year, when are you coming out? It’s important for mental and physical health,” he said.

Dennis added there were minimal concerns with hosting the event this year.

“I wasn’t overly concerned. I thought people would come out because some of these guys have been stuck in their garages for over a year. Many of them are very very excited about their cars,” Dennis said.

One man, Robert Workman of Warren, previously went to the shows as an enthusiast, but now he has one of the cars for people to look at — a 1998 Lincoln Mark VIII, the last of its kind, according to Workman.

“I just got this about three months ago. I think this is my fourth time showing the car,” he said. “It feels good. I spent too much time at home and too much time alone (during the pandemic). This gives me a break,” he said.

nhawthorne@tribtoday.com

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