Tom Alberts was the first person parked in the Mercer Island City Hall lot at about 6:30 a.m. on the morning of July 24. Judging from the smile on his face, he was thrilled to be there at such an early hour, no doubt.
About a half hour later, the roar of engines could be heard as drivers began arriving in their cars to line up to participate in the Cruise the Loop event as part of the Mercer Island Classic Car Show. The 12-mile trek began around the corner on East Mercer Way and the drivers ended their 25 mph journey by filing into the parking lot at the old Farmers Building for the show.
For the last 18 years, Alberts has organized the cruise and show on the Island, including last year with a cruise and an informal gathering during the height of the pandemic. The event, which is a partnership with Avants, was free for participants and car enthusiasts who were on hand to check out the vehicles.
This year’s event featured 185 cars — 170 on the cruise and 15 just at the show. Last year, 200 vehicles made their way to the event.
Alberts said the drivers are revved up with enthusiasm at the event, which featured a wide range of cars from a 1931 Model A to a pair of brand-new exotics.
“Once they start showing up, they come in droves. Trying to get them in and organized and out again and get a pace car in front, it’s very hectic. It’s enjoyable hectic,” said Alberts, who owns a 1964 Corvair and a 1979 Corvette. “I wonder why I put this on. I have (cars), but there’s so many cars I like. So since I can’t own ‘em, if I put a show on, I get to see ‘em.”
Mike Grocott of Kingston built both his 1953 red MG TD and 1980 green MG B vehicles that were parked in the lot that morning. As his son drove up in the red car, Grocott noted that he’s owned that ride for 52 years. He’s owned the other vehicle for 20 years.
“I’ve always liked cars. It goes so fast, that’s why I like that,” he said.
Across the way stood Scott Chytil of Sammamish with his 1975 safari gold Datsun 280Z with an LS6 swap, which he’s owned for two years. He fixed the car on Tuesday and was ready to display it on Saturday and check out the other cars at the show.
Chytil recalled his origin story with cars.
“It started when I was 16 and my buddy bought a ‘67 Camaro. It was half built and we worked on that through high school. Something about the roar of the engine and getting the accelerator… really gets the adrenaline pumping,” he said.
He cruised the loop at 25 mph, but said his car doesn’t like to go that slow. Chytil heard from a previous owner that his 280Z can crank up to 140 mph, but he hasn’t put the pedal to the metal that hard, he said with a laugh.