Portland Police Chief James Craig grew up in Detroit and later lived in Los Angeles, but when he moved to Maine two years ago, he didn’t hold much hope that the state would have the sort of active network of automobile enthusiasts he’d been part of in those cities.

“I assumed with Maine’s brutal winters there wasn’t as much of a car culture,” Craig said. “But there is a robust car culture here. You just don’t see them as much because they keep them away in the winter.”

After discovering Maine’s car crush, Craig — who built a custom Camaro as a teen and owns a 1970 Pontiac GTO and a 2007 Corvette Z06 — decided it was time the Portland area hosted a judged car show.

On Saturday, the inaugural event of Calling All Cars: Giant Car Show takes place at the Portland Motor Club.

For $15, car owners can enter their autos in categories that include pre-1950s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, sports, street rod, tricked out, truck and motorcycle. Any teen can enter a car he or she owns into a special judged category without paying the registration fee.

A panel made up of Craig, Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram Executive Editor Scott Wasser and a third person (who is still being confirmed) will judge the vehicles and award a first place in each category, plus a best in show.

The show benefits another personal interest of Craig’s: engaging young people with police officers in a positive way.

After Craig took over Portland’s top police job two years ago, he started a youth services program that aims to connect kids with officers. Officer Ray Ruby heads the initiative, which provides funding for low-income children to join sports leagues and purchase required equipment (such as lacrosse sticks) for teams they’d like to join.

The program also sponsors a monthly teen night at the Portland Public Library, teaches cooking classes and recently hosted a Teen Film Week, where students learned how to edit, shoot and act in films.

“We’re trying to get kids more active and make sure they can participate no matter what their financial situation is,” Ruby said.

All the funds raised by the event’s registration fees will benefit these activities.

“The end goal is to reduce crime,” Ruby said. “When you keep kids active and off the streets, there’s less likelihood they’ll be a victim of a crime or involved in a crime.”

Craig, who organized a similar event when he worked as a commanding officer in the Los Angeles Police Department, said the money raised at the event will be crucial to continuing the youth services programs.

“We don’t have a budget to sustain our youth programs,” he said.

Wings from Binga’s Wingas and pizza from Siano’s will be sold during the event, with proceeds benefiting the youth programs.

In addition to viewing the cars entered in the contest, show attendees can check out vintage and current model police vehicles, a SWAT vehicle, and high mileage and hybrid vehicles from local dealerships. Bill Waldron, who owns Portland Motor Club, will have his collection of late 1960s and early 1970s Mopar sports cars on display.

The event will also feature car detailing and burn-out demonstrations, along with a text-and-drive obstacle course. Those who attend can take a spin in a golf cart through an obstacle course while attempting to send a text message.

“There’s the art and beauty of cars and the dangerous and sobering side of cars” and both will be represented at the event, said Kal Rogers, membership director of the Portland Motor Club.

Should it rain on Saturday, the event will be rescheduled for Sunday.

Whatever the weather may hold, Craig predicts “this will be the first event of many to come.”

Staff Writer Avery Yale Kamila can be contacted at 791-6297 or at:

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