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Hot rods, showcase rides, a good cause

Inaugural Battle of the Rides displays the SCV’s finest on wheels to help disabled teens, adults

Posted: June 26, 2010 8:45 p.m.
Updated: June 27, 2010 4:30 a.m.

Lead singer Zaira Mosquea, left, and drummer Mike Mata perform with their band, Last Chance, on Saturday at Saugus Speedway during LETMESAIL’s inaugural Battle of the Rides

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They call themselves “The Brady Bunch,” and camping trips just wouldn’t be as fun without the latest edition to their clan: “Dash,” a 1955 Ford Gillig bus.

The Westerns and McGraths lounged near the white bus on Saturday at Saugus Speedway.

“He’s the last one of his year and his make in existence,” said Canyon Country resident Carla Western, girlfriend of Dash’s owner, Bob McGrath. “He was originally owned by the Navy.”

Dash was one of 200 vehicles — most of them hot rods — showcased at the Speedway for the inaugural Battle of the Rides. Nonprofit organization LETMESAIL hosted the car and motorcycle show to raise funding for its programs, which benefit disabled teens and adults.  Bragging rights were awarded for Best Paint, Most Outrageous and Best in Class for six categories, as well as a Best in Show.

Dash’s family was fairly certain the short bus wouldn’t win in any category because he never fits the typical car show categories, Western said. But they attended the event to show off their “baby,” hang out and meet new people.

Western found Dash through a newspaper ad a few years ago.

“There was always a joke about (Bob) driving a little yellow bus,” Western said.

The family remodeled much of its interior with couches, a fridge and microwave. The driver’s seat and back bench are still originals.

Dash was surrounded by an arena of radical custom cars, motorcycles and exotic street machines on Saturday. Proud owners, like Joe Bellini, of Castaic, stood nearby.

The truck’s 3600-watt sound system drew attention from the shiny brown paint job on Bellini’s 1956 Ford pickup.

“I appreciate the work he’s put into this monster sound truck,” said passerby Don Lee, of Valencia. “My goodness.”

LETMESAIL’s Executive Director, Pam Sorlagas, said the fundraiser was expected to pull in thousands of dollars for the therapeutic, social, recreational and educational programs the charity offers. The Santa Clarita-based organization serves about 218 individuals annually, Sorlagas said.

The event, largely sponsored by MB2 Raceway, also featured food stands and live music. A panel of expert judges voted on the entries, and a People’s Choice award granted attendees their own vote for a favorite.

“We’re hoping today is really successful so we can do it every year for Santa Clarita and for the program,” she said.

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