Every week, Don Schmitt carves time out of his Friday to take a walk down memory lane. Or, rather, a drive.
As he spot-shines his 1963 Corvette Stingray, he reminisces about his youth. Every year, he and his pals would hop into a 1964 Corvette and tackle the open road on a trip to California.
If you goWhat: Vintage Rides car show series
When: 7-9 p.m. Fridays through Aug. 26
Where: Front Street, downtown Wheaton
Info: (630) 682-0633 or downtownwheaton.com
"I was a lot thinner then," he said with a laugh. "It brings back a lot of memories."
Schmitt, 66, attends Downtown Wheaton Association's Vintage Rides, a weekly car show that gives the Wheaton resident and fellow enthusiasts a chance to share their passions with each other as well as curious onlookers and passers-by. The event runs 7-9 p.m. every Friday through Aug. 26.
Schmitt explains that the trailer hitch on his most-recently bought Corvette, the 1963 Stingray, tows a go cart version of a 1958 Corvette.
"You meet a lot of good friends with it," he said. "It's a fun car and I use it the way I want."
Schmitt's vintage car is among the dozens of vehicles that take over Front Street every week. During a recent week, he was parked alongside a 1934 Pierce Arrow. Down the street, a silver 1932 Roadster took up temporary residence.
Further down, Corvettes of different eras, a Buick Grand National and a Dodge Charger lined the street.
Just in front of The Bank Restaurant and Bar, Carol Stream resident Jerry Gawlik, 59, tells anyone who asks all about his 1961 Cadillac Fleetwood. Gawlik received the vehicle as a birthday present from his children about three years ago, but only after admiring it in a Yorkville driveway for more than a year.
He said he loves the Wheaton car show because it includes a mix of car owners and people shopping downtown who admire the cars.
"People just come here and they stare and all of a sudden, you just see a memory," he said. "You know, 'God, I remember when I was a kid my dad had one and we'd go on vacations …' You get a lot of stories like that. It brings a lot of memories back to people about the days, kind of the good old days for them."
For Gawlik, the good old days included trips down old Route 66 through Albuquerque and the Mojave Desert into California. The vintage shows gives him a chance to share that with others, including younger people who were not around in the auto industry's heyday.
"You were excited about cars. You were really excited about seeing what new styles were coming out," he said. "You look at cars today, and they are just sort of bubble-looking."