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Car enthusiasts hit the road in Duluth Time Trials, show

Sun flashed from polished chrome Sunday morning as show cars gathered on Garfield Avenue in Duluth. In a parking lot a few blocks away high performance engines roared. The air filled with the smell of racing fuel as the first Kia of Duluth Car Sh...

Sun flashed from polished chrome Sunday morning as show cars gathered on Garfield Avenue in Duluth.

In a parking lot a few blocks away high performance engines roared. The air filled with the smell of racing fuel as the first Kia of Duluth Car Show and Time Trials got underway.

Long the site for illegal racing, promoter Ryan Kern and a group of car enthusiasts lobbied the Duluth City Council and police department to bring legal speed trials to life along the avenue.

"We worked very hard with the council and the police, and they worked hard with us to make this event happen," Kern said. "This is not drag racing; these are time trials.

"Only one car at a time is allowed on the course, and a timer is set up to record the drivers efforts."

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More than 70 drivers paid the $50 to race against the clock in 1930s hot rods, 1950s classic, '60s and '70s muscle cars and 1990s street cars. The fastest drivers covered the course in less than seven seconds.

Kern said the event was micro-managed to learn what works and what doesn't to make the event better in the future.

"I love the muscle cars, you bet," said Lawrence Olson of Duluth. "It's a damn shame they didn't put up some bleachers or something. But this is great anyhow."

During the time trials, emphasis was placed on ensuring driver safety and compliance with the rules and keeping unauthorized people off the time-trials staging area.

The car show was hosted by the Nifty 50 Cruisers, a local car club. Garfield Avenue filled up quickly with more than 100 cars on display.

More than 70 of the show cars registered to be judged by other entrants and awards were given to the top 10 cars that received the most votes.

Don "The Pope" Popoe of Superior displayed his 1968 Chevrolet truck at the event. Popoe said, "I'm glad they're having this car show. I just retired and have the time for this. My truck has won two first place awards in the past year, but it is time for me to sell it.

"I'm getting old," Popoe said with a chuckle, "and it's way too quick."

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Kern said attendance was good for a first-year effort, but hasn't committed to holding the event again next year.

"We had to comply with a lot of safety issues, and that's fine, but there are some things we can do with bleachers, maybe behind the starting line, next time" Kern said. "We just didn't know what to expect."

The Duluth News Tribune contributed to this report.

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