People from all generations flooded the Du Quoin State Fairgrounds all weekend to celebrate one thing: their love for cars.
The 2014 Car Craft Street Machine Nationals, which was Friday through Sunday, continues to provide a place for car lovers to gather since it was brought to Du Quoin in 1985.
The nationals were moved because of rowdy and reckless behavior in 1998, which returned last year after a 14-year leave.
Rick Monroe, owner of a 2009 Dodge Challenger RT Classic, traveled to the event from Springfield to reminisce, show off his car and admire fellow street machines.
Monroe said he has had an avid relationship with cars since he was 16 and attends about 50 shows a year.
“I love cars and I love speed,” Monroe said. “Everybody’s got their niche and mine is cars.”
He bought the car in 2012 from a bank after the vehicle was repossessed from its original owner. An over-the-road truck driver who never made a payment on the vehicle formerly owned the car.
The Challenger was hidden in a secluded country barn on someone else’s property. The truck driver was eventually found after a two-year search and the vehicle was repossessed.
Monroe said he bought the Challenger for $20,000 less than the sticker price and has spent more money on modifications than the car itself, changing practically every single aspect.
The car now has blue LED lights everywhere imaginable, sticking true to its namesake, Blue Lightning.
The headlights, rim lights, interior lights, custom door seals, gauge cluster, under hood and trunk all project a blue hue. Even the bottom of the car has a blue under glow.
“It is really cool at night,” Monroe said. “It looks like a UFO.”
Monroe said he has never participated in the competitions at the street machine shows. The amount spent on tires and keeping the car in prime condition outweighs the desire to compete.
“Put it this way, if we’re out cruising at night, I might do a burn out,” Monroe said. “But no, I wouldn’t do a contest.”
On one such occasion, he destroyed a new set of $150 tires overnight.
Monroe said young adults should get involved in cars.
“Young kids need to get back into cars like they used to be,” Monroe said. “Maybe then they would stay out of trouble and drugs and alcohol.”
He said he believes that if young people would put their attention and effort back into vehicles, the rate of drug addiction, alcohol addiction and trouble in general would drop drastically.
Clint Faugust, a street machine fan from Pleasant Plains, held a similar opinion as Monroe.
“Most people have addictions related to drugs, alcohol and all that kind of stuff,” Faugust said. “Automotive is an addiction for other people.”
Grant Wilkinson, 15, of Jerseyville, said if kids truly got into cars, it would definitely keep them out of trouble, although they would have to watch their speed.
“If they started making them really, really fast, I could see them drag racing and basically getting into more trouble,” Wilkinson said.
Monroe said when he was younger, he spent money on other things.
“When we were younger, we didn’t waste money on drugs or alcohol. We worked to make our car pretty and take our girls out,” Monroe said. “Now, don’t get me wrong, we drank a little, but nothing like it is these days.”
He said he enjoys fixing up a stock model into a car people really notice. It doesn’t even have to be his own; he just loves to do it and recommends others to get involved.
Monroe said he already has car events scheduled for the next two months in Pennsylvania and Ohio.