In the early part of 1994 Frank Agueci, a member of Motor City Car Club was approached by the Region of Durham inquiring if the club would be interested in working with the Region in putting a car show on in the City of Oshawa.
1994 was the 20th Anniversary of the Region of Durham and the Region had set aside funds to host a number of events to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Region.
The club was interested and a meeting was arranged with the Region of Durham and the City Of Oshawa.1994 was also the 30th Anniversary of Motor City Car Club.
Frank, Mike and Gary attended the first meeting at City Hall. What was interesting at this first meeting, 3 club members from the club were in attendance and approximately 12-14 from the Region. It didn’t take the club members long to realize that if this was the format to be followed we weren’t interested in continuing.
At the break in the meeting we approached Norm Leigh, our contact at the Region and said that we would stay for the rest of the meeting. After the meeting we explained that we all owned our own businesses and we weren’t interested in attending meetings with this many people in attendance every time a decision had to be made.
The only way Motor City Car Club would continue was if he was our sole contact at the Region of Durham and The City of Oshawa. Somehow Norm was able to pull this off and Autofest was a go. This was the same approach with the car club, the committee didn’t have to get the club’s approval we only had to keep the club up to date on what was happening.
At that first meeting with the Region we were advised that this was to be a one day show and that the city had secured the General Motors of Canada headquarters office complex on Colonel Sam drive in Oshawa. This was good news ,having General Motors involved automatically added credibility to the event.
Also there was very limited parking (1200) spots and there was only one way in which made for easy access for registered participants. The downside was that if we filled the grounds with participants, food concessions and vendors there would be very limited as well as spectator parking.
If the pre registration was anywhere close to where we hoped it would be we would have to find off site parking for spectators. A third of the east parking lot was where General Motors staff courtesy cars were parked. These cars were used throughout the week by General Motors employees and stored on the site for the weekend. These vehicles would have to be moved off site. We made a deal with Kerr Industries that the club members would move the cars to their site on Farewell on Saturday and return them to the GM Headquarters Sunday after the close of the show.
Like any new event there also came the unexpected. To our knowledge this was the first event held on the General Motors Headquarters grounds where there would be an admission fee for spectators. When you stood back and surveyed the site you quickly realized that all there was was a modern office building, paved parking lot and Lake Ontario. No stage, sound system, washrooms, food available, garbage containers etc.
- FOOD VENDORS The interest from food vendors was surprising seeing that this was a new event. We actually were in a position where we could pick and choose. Being on private property there were no facilities for participants to sit and eat. Someone suggested that we rent plastic tables and chairs. We quickly came to the conclusion that this wasn’t a good idea. Being on the shore of Lake Ontario the wind can be quite severe and if that was the case we would be chasing tables and chairs all over the site. We had a meeting with Darlington Provincial Park which butts on to the GM property to the east and they said that they would loan us picnic tables. Problem solved, not quite it was the clubs responsibility to pick up and return the tables. These weren’t your typical Canadian Tire type tables. The parks tables consisted of heavy steel frames with solid wood seats and top. They weigh a ton ,and it took more than 2 people to move them. We made numerous trips on Saturday to the park with the club’s car trailer to pick up the tables , maximum tables 4 per trip. We had to do it all over again on Sunday evening.
2. CENTRE COURT The walkway leading to the entrance to the GM headquarters building is well landscaped with a large concrete patio ideal for displaying feature vehicles. General Motors said that they didn’t want any Autofest participants’ cars in this area. They would fill the area with special cars from their collection. On the Tuesday of the event we were advised by General Motors that they wouldn’t be bringing any vehicles to Autofest. This was a big concern to the club as it would leave a highly visible area vacant. We contacted our friends at the Corvettes of Durham club and asked them if they would talk to the GM and see if it would be acceptable to fill this area with Corvettes. The club got the ok from General Motors. The Corvettes of Durham continue to support Autofest.
3. GARBAGE As you can appreciate an event of this size especially with a food court would generate a considerable amount of garbage. Club members with the use of a 4×4’s were kept busy during the day emptying garbage bins. At the end of the event we realized that General Motors hadn’t provided any bins for disposal. As mentioned earlier the agreement with Generals Motors was to leave the site the way we found it.What do you do with a day’s worth of garbage at 7pm on a Sunday. There was too much to split between the club members. A call was made to a friend that had a business Quality Car Care that is located approximately a mile away from the GM site. Thank goodness he was home on Sunday evening and he said yes go ahead using his dumpster. Numerous trips were made with the club trailer.
Autofest 1994 was an overwhelming success with over 400 registered vehicles. The common comment from people leaving the show was HOPE TO SEE YOU NEXT YEAR!
The first Autofest was held in Oshawa in 1972. It was sponsored by the City of Oshawa and the Chamber of Commerce. Autofest was a week-long event held at numerous facilities in the city. It ran for 3 successful years.
Events included: parade, car show, bike races, three quarter midget racing, casino night, soap box derby, and topped off with a Grand Prix ball held at the Civic Auditorium.