By Emily Crowe
Richard Rodriguez has loved working on cars since he was a young boy.
“When I was little, my brothers had me underneath the cars,” he said. “I was their little monkey guy, so I grew up around this.”
Rodriguez of Portales had his midnight blue 1956 Chevy pickup on display at the National Car Collector Appreciation Day event at the Roosevelt County Courthouse Friday evening.
Collector, muscle and antique cars, cruisers and hot rods were on display, with several area car club members showing off their prized automobiles.
The event, co-sponsored by Portales MainStreet and the Desert Cruzers car club from Clovis, has been held in Portales for the past three years and drew out car enthusiasts and families alike.
“We’re seeing different cars every year,” explained Orlando Ortega, the former mayor of Portales and a member of the Desert Cruzers. “It’s a nice venue for this. It encourages economic development down here.”
Ortega showed off his 1924 Ford Model T, which he said was likely the oldest car at the event.
“We’re about 60 families strong right now,” said Desert Cruzers President Jerry Bailey. “We’re a family-oriented club.”
Bailey said the club has been around since 1994 and makes monetary donations to several local organizations, including the Lighthouse Mission.
“We also give away four scholarships to the Clovis Community College automotive program,” Bailey explained. “We like to keep the automotive program alive.”
He also said the club has raffled off a car every year for the past 17 years, with proceeds from the raffle going to Make-A-Wish of New Mexico. Last year, the club donated nearly $6,000 to the charity.
This year the club is raffling off a white 1976 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray.
“Every man wants a Corvette,” Bailey said.