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Cool Rides, Great Times

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Cool rides, great times



RANDOLPH — The Sleepy town of Randolph is quiet during the late afternoon hours of Wednesday. In the distance a rumbling sound begins to stir. At first little more than a whisper but it quickly gains in strength until the roar of engines can be heard.

One by one the little parking lot on the north side of the auditorium begins to fill with classic cars. There is  a 1972 Chevy Chevelle SS, a 1955 Chevrolet 4-door Sedan, a 1968 Mustang Coupe, a black 1963 Chevrolet Belair and more. Slowly, the owners get out of their cars and go to greet one another as old friends  they haven’t seen in years, when in reality it probably has only been a week or two at most. 

“Tri-County Cruisers started as an idea to get people to drive their old cars instead of just letting them gather dust, said Jim Kilburn.

It all started when Steve Stueckrath, Richard Gubbels and  Jim Kilburn had met in a bar and discussed how all these beautiful old cars did nothing but sit around. They wanted to change that. So they started asking around looking for who would have interest in joining. Sure enough they started with 16 cars and now they are up to around 62. After seven years of riding the club has grown a lot. So much so that people come from as far as Yankton to join in.

Every car here has a story. 

That husker red 1972 Chevy Chevelle SS with the black racing stripes? Its owner he had a similar ’72 In high school and wanted to drive one again. 

“I liked the car I owned in high school and I wished I had never gotten rid of it, so I looked for one similar,” said Bill Gubbels.

The jet black 1963 Chevrolet Belair with the silver trim? That was a car that he bought from his grandfather and then  after five years driving it through high school and college sat in his father’s garage after they found a vehicle more suited to their needs. Luckily his father had kept it for him

 “All the adventures I had in this car, its more like a treasure trove full of memories than a vehicle,” said Shawn Kai.

That Carolina blue 1968 Mustang Coup? It was bought in remembrance of their son who passed away and owned a similar one. 

“Whenever we go out  riding we always know that he is riding with us,“ said Jolene Haselhort.

But as for why do they drive? Now that’s easy.

“Gives you a reason and drive around and show your car off” said Bill.

“When I was young cruising was a symbol of freedom, and driving up and down these roads for me it still is,” said Shawn.

“It’s fun, relaxing, and you mix and mingle with different people and just have fun to be around your friends and family,” said Jolene. 

Someone whistles and the crowd grows silent as they describe the route they are taking up to Niobrara. The plan? Drive up, get a burger and a beer and head back. That’s how the club has always done it.

On the ride to Niobrara, Steve and Judy Stueckrath and Judy’s sister Karen McDonald  rode in the Stueckrath’s crimson red 1963 ½ Ford Galaxie 500.

“There are only two rules in this car,” said Steve with a grin. “Whenever we ride through a town we have the American flags out the windows, and we keep the drinks cold,”

One by one, the cruisers head out   —  their sleek well-polished rides drawing the honks of horns and the friendly waves from front porches. 

On the ride the Ford Galaxie is full of laughs as songs from the 60s echo through its cabin. 

The two women in the back sing loudly along to the songs even if they miss a lyric at times. Steve responds in turn by turning up the volume to which the two women giggle.

“I gotta turn the music up extra loud so you don’t hear those two in the back,” Steve laughed.

When the group of around 30 vehicles arrive at the Sportsman’s bar in Niobrara, kids on bikes stop and look from a distance. A man in an SUV rolls down his window and offers praise to the well kept cars. The group quickly eats their meal of pulled pork sandwiches and BBQ baked beans. 

Goodbyes are short and often supplemented with a short, “see you later” as one by one they head back toward home. 

Next stop, wherever the road takes them.