Vroom, vroom! Classic car cruises are on for the season -- and there are a lot of them. Every day this summer and well into the fall, car enthusiasts can find a gathering where they might see popular American classics like a Ford Mustang or, more rarely, a Lotus, a British racing car.
Leo Cerruti has been a part of Oyster Bay's cruise night for more than 10 years -- first as a spectator, later bringing his white 1986 Chevrolet El Camino. "It's like an artist showing off their painting. It's a big gallery," says Cerruti, 63, who lives in town.
In most cases, car show admission is free for spectators, but a nominal fee is charged to those who come to display their wheels.
Here's how you can spend your whole week cruising from show to show:
"Hot Ride Mondays" kicks off at 6 p.m. at the Pennysaver Amphitheater at Bald Hill in Farmingville, attracting about 1,000 show cars, ranging from '50s classics to pricey imports. "Last year we saw a $400,000 Ferrari," says Matthew Goldapper, of Long Island Events, which organizes the weekly show. There is a $5 parking fee, and food, beer and wine are available for purchase (631-676-7500, pennysaveramp.com).
Beginning around 6 p.m., hundreds of people get together in downtown Oyster Bay for a night of food, concert specials, raffles and cool cars. About 250 vehicles line Audrey Avenue, just minutes from the Long Island Sound. Roll on by to see anything from Corvettes to the car-cruise-staple Mustangs (516-922-6464, visitoysterbay.com).
In nice weather, 35-40 cars show up for cruise night at Station Sports, an entertainment complex in Huntington Station. "We get anything from antiques to muscle cars," says Brad Rosen of the Huntington Station Business Improvement District, which puts on the free gathering. "There was a Lotus here last week," he adds. Families can start the night with a game of mini golf and then check out the cars while enjoying free hot dogs and Italian ices (631-673-1830, stationsports.com).
Head to Riverhead to see 100-200 cars on the riverfront along Peconic Avenue to McDermott Avenue, beginning at 5:30 p.m. Every week draws a new batch of cars, but past cruises have seen true hot rods to Ford Model Ts. "It's pretty amazing, 400 to 500 people show up to look at the cars," says Ray Pickersgill, president of the Riverhead Business Improvement District (631-727-7840, riverheadbid.com).
Meschutt Beach in Hampton Bays hosts a free weekly car meet-up that attracts around "200 to 250 classic cars," says Tatiana De la O, manager of the Beach Hut restaurant (631-728-2988, thebeachhuts.com). Further west, the long-running Friday cruise at the Bellmore Long Island Rail Road station runs 6-10 p.m. with hundreds of cars (516-679-1875).
Drive down Ocean Parkway to Cedar Beach for a night of live music, food, classic cars and motorcycles. The event is free to enter and begins around 5:30 p.m., drawing 40-plus cars. "We get the old Cobras, a couple of Mustangs, old 440 Chargers, Hemi Barracudas and Harleys," says Fred Marsilio, owner of the Beach Hut (631-321-0813, thebeachhuts.com).
Sunday is a big day for once-a-year shows put on by local car clubs and other sponsors. This Sunday, for example, Bethpage Federal Credit Union hosts a classic car show 9 a.m.-4 p.m. at 889 S. Oyster Bay Rd., Bethpage (516-849-2465). On July 21, the New York AutoFest rolls into Sands Point Preserve -- about 300 show cars are expected to set up amid the historic castles on the property ($10 parking, 516-882-5022, nyautofest.com).