The Bloomfield Cruisers: not ‘your dad’s old car club’

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BLOOMFIELD, NJ — Wednesday nights are for cars in Bloomfield, as long as the Bloomfield Cruisers and the Bloomfield Center Alliance have anything to say about it.

The group, made up of car and motorcycle enthusiasts, has partnered with the town’s business organization for the last few summers, parking their classic cars on a block at the corner of Bloomfield Avenue and Broad Street to show off their wheels. The club, founded seven years ago by Bloomfield resident and Essex County Commissioner Carlos Pomares, wants to get more people interested in cars.

“In my experience, they’re limited,” Pomares said in reference to traditional car clubs in a phone interview with The Independent Press on July 19. “A lot are only for Camaros or specific types of cars. We wanted it to be more inclusive.”

Many classic car clubs focus only on cars that were manufactured during certain years, say, limiting the number of people who can be involved and the number of cars that can be displayed at a show. But Pomares, along with Bloomfield Director of Parks and Recreation Michael Sceurman and residents Roy Yokelson and Steve Martino, wanted to diversify.

“Some have rules where it has to be at least 25 years old,” Pomares said. “I’ve never really cared for that.”

So the Cruisers don’t apply that rule to the club. Many of the people who travel with them to car shows don’t have classic cars; they drive their vans or motorcycles and are just enthusiasts. Plus, as time passes, the cars that are considered “old” change.

“Cars from the ’80s and ’90s are now old,” Pomares said. “My car from 1989 wouldn’t have been considered classic, but now it is. For something to be considered classic it has to be 20 years old. From that perspective, a car from 2000 would count. So it’s flexible.”

Car shows aren’t the club’s only activity. Each year, club members raise money for a graduating high school senior who will go to Universal Technical Institute, an automotive mechanic school that has a campus in Bloomfield. They sponsored a Little League baseball team this spring, and also run fundraisers for local charities.

Next year Pomares, Martino, Sceurman and Dan Bitecola will participate in the Hemmings Motor News Great Race. On June 18 they’ll set off from Warwick, R.I., and go on a nine-day, 2,300-mile race through Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota and North Dakota. The race ends in Fargo, N.D., and is a time and distance rally rather than a speed race. Each car, with a driver and navigator, is given instructions that detail every move to the second. Scored at checkpoints along the route, the teams are penalized for each second they are early or late. The team with the lowest score at the end wins.

“It’s not a speed race, so a Model T has the same chance of winning as my Corvette, which is a fast car,” Pomares said.

Pomares will be driving his 1972 Corvette, with Martino serving as the navigator. Sceurman and Bitecola will be support team members in another car, carrying parts and tools to help fix whatever might break, and helping with logistics.

Pomares has done rallies like this before, driving to Kentucky in 2003 for the 50th anniversary of the introduction of the Corvette. Always keeping charity in their minds, the Cruisers team is asking for support to “adopt a mile,” hoping to raise $1 for each of the 2,300 miles they drive. They’re also hoping for another $200, to reach their $2,500 goal, which will go back into the scholarship fund.

Around 100 cars are usually at the Cruisers and BCA shows on Wednesday nights; the regulars are joined by a rotating cast of other car enthusiasts in the area. But Pomares said the club isn’t just for car enthusiasts.

“We’re not like your dad’s old car club,” he joked. “We have all kinds of events; it’s very family oriented. We certainly have diversity in the events and also the people participating. Maybe if it’s not for them at first, it will be eventually.”

More information about the Bloomfield Cruisers, including how to join, can be found at www.facebook.com/bloomfieldcruisers and www.bloomfieldcruisers.com.

Photos Courtesy of Carlos Pomares and Bloomfield Center Alliance

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