College kids and cars connect

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Just a sampling of the cars that turned out for the University of Florida student-run car show staged in Bo Diddley Community Plaza in Gainesville, Florida | Jim McCraw photos

Never mind all that blather about how kids don’t like cars anymore. It’s not true. Certainly not in Florida. For the past couple of years, an enthusiastic group of students has put on a very successful spring car show just off the campus of the University of Florida in Gainesville, organized by the students, without a faculty advisor anywhere on the property.

And not only that, this year, the car show committee was headed by a dedicated female car nut, Caroline Comeau.

Junior premed student Caroline Comeau, behind the wheel of her 1989 Mercedes-Benz 560 SL, has organized the show for the past two years

A third-year pre-med student, Comeau was also the show director last year, with help from a small group of student volunteers and members of a UF sales and marketing class whose assignment it was to gin up sponsors for the event.

Comeau designed the event logo last year and this, both times featuring artwork of a Mercedes-Benz 300 SL gullwing. She drives a spotless, restored silver 1989 560 SL back and forth to school.

The show has a charitable aspect, raising money for local charity Noah’s Endeavor, Will and Shelly Voelker’s charity named for their late son, an organization that funds arts, sports and aquatics events for local youngsters with disabilities.

 

Bo Diddley Community Plaza provides the setting for the show
Bo Diddley was a Gainesville native

Located on Bo Diddley Community Plaza, named for the Rock’N’Roll Hall Of Famer and Gainesville native, the show last year pulled 115 entries, a number handily dwarfed by this year’s overflow crowd of all kinds of cars. They were arrayed nose-out along both sides of four brick-paved city blocks of downtown Gainesville, in a completely random order, no classes, no circles.

An interesting aspect of the Gainesville show was that there were no judges, and no People’s Choice voting. Only those with a car entered were allowed to vote for the various prizes.

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With a whole day of brilliant sunshine, nonstop classic rock from the deejay station right in the middle of the show, and food and drink available from the downtown eateries and bars, it was just about as good as it gets. If you felt like it, you could even make a deposit donation at the Bloodmobile near the entrance to the show.

Jim McCraw has been writing about cars, motorcycles, design, technology, car people and racing for 50 years, in such publications as Hot Rod Deluxe, Super Chevy, Muscle Mustangs, Road & Track, Car and Driver, Popular Mechanics, Popular Science, Penthouse, Winding Road, The Mercedes-Benz Star, AutoWeek, The New York Times, and a number of European publications. He was executive editor of Motor Trend, editor of Hot Rod and Super Stock. He co-holds the record for the drive from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, to Key West, Florida, 96:22, and has run in major events such as the Mille Miglia Storica in Italy, Goodwood, the California Mille, the Colorado Grand, the New England 1000, Forza Mille, and four One Lap Of America competitions He owns a pristine Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedan.

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