There are car enthusiasts from all over the world that will travel to Modesto in June to attend the annual American Graffiti Festival. Numerous car clubs will be shining their fenders and revving up their engines to participate in the festival’s shows, cruising and live entertainment. The Modesto Area Street Rod Association will be among those rolling out in style in their classic cars this summer — something they’ve done since 1975.
Charter member Ray Lee is the club’s car show chairman and has been a member along with his wife Marsha since 1975. He was club president in 1993, 2014, 2015 and 2016. They have a 1968 Chevrolet Camaro.
“Over the years we have enjoyed many lifelong friendships and continue to make new friends at various classic car events,” said Lee. “In 1975, our club started with a group of guys and gals just cruising our hotrods and hanging out. Our bond was a common interest in classic cars. We didn’t have a lot of money in those days; we even camped out at rod runs because motels were out of the budget. Reminiscing about all the club outings, picnics, car shows, weddings, etc. are all a very special part of being a Modesto Area Street Rod Association club member.”
The Lees have passed along their love of cars to their daughter Megan, who has her own muscle car, a 1968 Chevy II Nova, that they fully restored when she was in high school.
At first, club members drove pre-1949 street rods and attended car shows up and down the Valley and at times out of the state. The organization is family-oriented and many of their children have grown up in the club.
“We are active in our community, promoting car events which help us fundraise for many nonprofit organizations and families in need,” said Lee. “In 2012, we amended our bylaws and opened our club membership to all those who own pre-1973 classic cars. This change has complimented our club as there are so many 50s, 60s and 70s classics being restored. Our goal and objective is to promote and preserve interest in the classic car hobby for the next generation.”
MASRA hosts a Graffiti Classic Car Show during the first Sunday in June each year as the kickoff event for Graffiti Summer in Modesto. This year the Graffiti Classic will be held on June 2.
“Our show has become the largest single day car show in Modesto,” added Lee. “We draw over 500 of the finest automobiles and the friendliest people to the unique setting of the McHenry Village Shopping Center.”
Currently there are 28 “family” members in the club and they do accept new members. The membership is open to classic car owners who own a 1972 model or older. They meet at Perko’s on Sylvan and Oakdale Roads two Tuesdays a month.
“The MASRA fully supports the Modesto car culture and the Graffiti Summer events,” stated Lee. “We are proud to be a part of the Graffiti Summer steering committee and meet once a month with Jennifer Mullen of Visit Modesto. We also hold current memberships in the Association of California Car Clubs, National Street Rod Association and Good Guys Rod and Custom Association.”
Some of the current members have been with the club for many years and have classic cars that they have restored themselves.
Bob Huntley has been a member for eight years and has a 1951 Ford Business Coupe. He has been president twice and enjoys the comradery of the members, which was a big factor in joining the club. The Business Coupe body style is what attracted Huntley to his 51 Ford.
Huntley said his favorite part of the Graffiti celebration is “the gathering of all the people that have the same interest as I have with older cars and continuing the tradition of hot rodding as we did back in the 50s.”
Vern and Josie Silva joined the club in 1977, and they have a 1932 Ford Roadster. A highlight for the Silvas is sharing their love for street rods with their friends.
Jerry and Toni Sauls have a 1956 Station Wagon and have been part of the club for 24 years. They also have a 1932 Roadster, which Toni added “because the 32 is what classic cars are all about.”
Larry and Saundra Wing were members many years ago when the club first started and took a few years off and then rejoined in 2013. They have an affinity for 1932 Fords.
“The highlight of being in the club is making friends with people who share our love for street rods,” said the Wings. “The first coupe I built was at age 14. I have built all five 1932 Fords in my garage.”
For all of the members of MASRA, June is a special time of year.
“The month of June in the city of Modesto is always filled with excitement,” said Lee. “It’s like traveling back in time, cruising in your favorite car with all your friends, attending car events and just being a part of the famous Modesto car culture history.”
For more information about MASRA, call 209-521-6528.