On Tuesday, Merrillville’s Southlake Auto Mall welcomed the start of the beautiful summer weather with the kickoff of its free Cruise Nights series.
Held once a month from May through September, gearheads gather to show off cars of all kinds and put rubber on the tarmac in intense burnouts. Spectators and drivers alike enjoyed beautiful cars, hot dogs, and fantastic weather as engines rumbled through the evening.
“It grew into something huge,” said Southlake Auto Mall owner Sonny Kors. “Sometimes we get 100 to 125 cars. It’s interesting to see the community forming, there’s people that come religiously. It’s amazing … some weeks we’ll even get a lot of trucks.”
The burnouts were the centerpiece of the evening. As cars eased onto the drag line, onlookers pulled out their phones to record the action and bet each other on how each participant would perform.
People came for a variety of reasons but everyone agreed the burnouts were the main attraction. Tom Clark gave his positive opinion on the event before setting out to burn rubber.
“I’ve been here two years at least, going on my third year,” he said. “It’s a nice time, a car show on Tuesday afternoon! There’s not that many on Tuesdays. Plus, we do burnouts and that’s pretty cool.”
The amount of cars on display covered many makes, models, and places of origin. Veteran dragsters appreciated classics such as Camaros, while many younger drivers rode in on their kitted out foreign cars.
Many in the crowd were new to cruise nights, but plenty of gearheads came out to share their experience with the audience and other fanatics. One such man, Doug Mann, sat right next to the makeshift drag strip as he explained the allure.
“I come quite a bit,” he said. “I like the old cars and I like the burnouts. That’s what makes it stand out. You got a lot of old time drag racers that come out here, show off and do that stuff.”
As the custom cars roared down the strip, the power of their engines rattled chests while clouds of dust and the smell of scorched rubber filled the air. It’s an intense display that appeals to all types, gearheads love to look under the hoods of the beasts while newcomers enjoy the impressive display. For the next few months, anyone can see it Southlake Auto Mall.
More information about Southlake Auto Mall can be found at southlakeautomall.com or by visiting it at 4191 East Lincoln Highway in Merrillville.
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