Story by Keith Fuerst
Pictures by Pete Manos, Phil Ginsberg, Richard Millier, Ralph Mangino, Tom Smith, and Keith Fuerst
The fact that the 5th Annual All Firebird Lawn Show at Saratoga Auto Museum, hosted by Firebird Nation of North America, has come and gone is proof that “time flies when you’re having fun.” This show has grown from a local gathering of Firebird owners to a regional show covering 10 states and Canada. In 2007 another attendance record was set…127 Firebird owners decided they couldn’t miss out on all the fun. Cars shows are great but what makes this one more special is that it’s a fund raiser for Special Olympics Saratoga. Almost $ 5,000 was raised at the 2007 show. Thanks to some very generous Firebird owners and sponsors that figure was a new show record.
A car show this big doesn’t just happen. It takes a lot of work. The driving force behind the show is founder Tom Smith and co-founder wife Sandy Smith who handled all the organizational details from A to Z. They are certified Special Olympics coaches and Firebird owners. They lead a dedicated group of volunteers to produce this ever growing event. The volunteers are judges Joe Carey, Neil Silberkleit, Eddie Barra, and Keith Fuerst; the registration queens Sandy Smith, Susan Banker, Arlene Delaney and Sandy Byron; the food and beverage staff David, Lisa and Trish Lord. Special Olympics volunteers Judy Keehan, Mary Schwartz, and Chris Radz sold raffle tickets. FNONA member Keith Tanny sold 50/50 raffle tickets with half of the proceeds going to Special Olympics. Special Olympics athletes Brian Smith, Todd Byron, Jennifer Delaney, and John Schwartz selected the winner of the Athlete’s Choice trophy and gave out ribbons to 25 of their favorite Firebirds. Athlete DJ Nolan provided the music and announcements.
On Friday afternoon there was a meet and greet at the Saratoga Auto Museum for Firebird owners who just couldn’t wait until Saturday to feed their Firebird addiction. An SSPD police escort arranged by FNONA vice president Joe Carey lead 25 Firebirds on a cruise to Mr. ED’s Ice Cream and Pizza Station. On Saturday the show was blessed with great weather except for one nasty looking rain cloud that made everyone nervous…. until it passed by without leaving a single drop.
There was some top quality eye candy in the form of Firebirds in all directions on the show field. Cars included a pristine 69 T/A Ram Air III and 70 T/A Ram Air IV, both owned by Ray and Kathy DeCrescenzo. These cars drew an instant crowd that lasted most of the day. Other birds of note included a 94 25th anniversary T/A Firehawk convertible, 1 of 2 made, a 77 T/A with a 502… 10th, 15th, 20th, 25th, and 30th Anniversary Trans Ams, and a 74 SD 455. Also some black and gold Special Editions, a few Sprint 6 Firebirds and some very well cared for high mileage Firebirds and Formulas of all years made a strong presence.
Thanks go out to Alan Edstrom of Saratoga Auto Museum for his help and support. Thanks also to Ralph Mangino Jr. of Mangino Pontiac for sponsorship and dash plaques. Much gratitude to all the members of NFTAC, Trans Am Country, Charter Oak Birds, Connecticut F-Body Association, Firebirds Forever and the Ohio Firebirds for making the long trek to the show. Much appreciation to Rob, Frank and NFTAC for the raffle items, Eagle Magazines, and coverage of this show in Eagle Magazine. July 5, 2008 (rain date July 6, 2008) is the date for this year’s show. Please join us for some Firebird fun.