PORTLAND – When he was a commanding officer in the Los Angeles Police Department, James Craig started a car show in 2007 to help reach out to young people. The Southwest Area Classic Car Show was a hit, attracting roughly 3,500 people in the first year.

Now Craig, Portland’s police chief, wants to bring a similar event to Maine’s largest city. Working with the Portland Motor Club, he’s helping to organize the Calling All Cars Giant Car Show. The event is scheduled for June 25 at the club’s facility at 275 Presumpscot St.

The event, Craig said, will mix features of a traditional car show with an urban street fair. There will be cars — muscle cars, street rods, classic and sports cars and special tactical police vehicles. But there also will be hands-on activities, such as tire-changing races, car detailing demonstrations and a text-and-drive obstacle course.

Show cars will fall into 14 categories, from pre-1950s antiques to today’s models. Trucks and motorcycles will be entered, as well, with prizes awarded.

The show is making a call now for vehicle owners to register and get more information at: www.portlandmotor club.com.

In Los Angeles, Craig said he found the car show to be a good way to raise funds for police outreach efforts, such as the Police Athletic Program for young people.

“This is an opportunity to build relationships with the youth community,” Craig said. “It’s another opportunity to bond with our youth.”

Craig is passionate about cars. He owns a 1970 Pontiac GTO and a high-performance, 2007 Chevrolet Corvette ZO6.

Craig said he was surprised, upon coming to Maine, at the strong interest in automobiles here. And he wondered why Portland lacks a sizable, judged car show: The only one he’s aware of is a small show in August, sponsored by WCSH 6 television.

That question also has puzzled Kal Rogers, membership director at the Portland Motor Club. He’s aware of dozens of shows and car-related events happening almost daily around the state, and listed on the Cruise Maine web site: www.cruisemaine.net.

Spring and summer are filled with “cruise-in” events, from the weekly Shapleigh Corner Store Cruise-In to the Roy’s All Steak Hamburgers Weekly Cruise-in at Auburn. Car shows include the 32nd annual Bonny Eagle Car Show in Buxton next Sunday.

To broaden the Portland show, Rogers has been asking area dealers to bring popular, new muscle cars, such as the Ford Mustang. He’s also contacting automotive tech classes and other young people who may want to attend or participate.

“We may grow it in the future,” he said. “We’ll see how it goes.”

 

Staff Writer Tux Turkel can be contacted at 791-6462 or

[email protected]