The Fleetwood Country Cruize-In: What a Party!
by Jerry Dixey
Car guys are known for throwing parties. Who hasn’t invited their pals to come over to their house, bring their hot rods , crank up the Beach Boys on the stereo in the backyard and have some fun, fun, fun. When Steve Plunkett throws a party he takes this concept to the ultimate limit. He invites his many “car friends” to come to his house, puts together some great activities to keep things moving and then hires the real Beach Boys to play. Over 3,500 vehicles covered the grounds at Steve Plunkett’s Fleetwood Farms. More than 25,000 people paid the nominal admission fee to enjoy all the fun and Steve, through the Plunkett Foundation, donates all of the proceeds to worthy charities. Last year the donations topped $350,000. Steve knows how to throw a party.
The activities kicked off on Friday night with the Beach Boys playing to a crowd of over 3,500 people in a tent the size of a football field. With Beach Boys veterans Mike Love and Bruce Johnston leading the way and backed by a group of very talented young musicians, they cruised through all their hits. For two hours the crowd sang along and knew all the words. It really is amazing to hear all of their legendary songs sung back to back. By 11pm on Friday evening the crowd sang “Fun, Fun, Fun” with the band and everyone knew we were all in for a wild weekend.
The Road Tourians got to Fleetwood Farms early on Saturday morning. Steve had arranged for us to park in one of the most prestigious areas of the 100 acre grounds, right at the main entrance in front of the Auto Salon and Steve’s beautiful home. The AMSOIL/ Street Rodder Road Tour tent was a center of activity and interest all weekend. It was the first time that that most of the folks had seen our Road Tour ’55 Chevy in person. Many had been following the build up in the pages of Street Rodder Magazine. Everyone agreed that we have one hot Bowtie and as they looked under the hood, the sounds of the Beach Boys singing “Giddy up 409 ” were still ringing in their heads.
The weekend was filled with activities that kept everyone waiting to see what was coming next. As a helicopter circled overhead, a team of drivers did square dancing routines with Farmall Tractors. Check out the video to understand the concept. There were twelve Amphicars giving folks rides into and across the lake in Steve’s backyard. Celebrities George Barris and Gene Winfield were at the event all weekend greeting the crowd and signing autographs. Everywhere you looked there were acres of cars of all makes, models and eras. From traditional hot rods and customs to muscle cars and restorations there was something for every car nut on the grounds. Vendors were set up and various charities had food stands. On Saturday evening the famous Canadian band Lighthouse played at a dinner dance for over 2,000 people. The AMSOIL/ Street Rodder Fleetwood Road Tour was even mentioned from the stage Saturday night.
The fun continued on Sunday. Many of the Fleetwood Country Cruize-in participants headed out on their long drives home. It was a great week on the Road Tour and one that will be remembered by all of us who enjoyed all the travels and adventures that we had together. The one thing that we will all remember is that when Steve Plunkett invites you to a party at his house, clear your schedule and get in your car and go. It is sure to be one that you will be glad you attended.