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Classic Cars Steal Show At Salome Chili Cook-Off

By Ron Kilber

February 17, 2001

You'd think the Flying Aces Poker Run would've captured the most attention at the Annual Great Arizona Outback Chili Cook-off in Salome, Ariz. Instead, the Parker River Rods upstaged pilots and airplanes that flew to remote airports to pick up poker playing cards. More than a dozen classic cars and their owners were on hand to treat chili tasters to not only some pretty good looking automobiles but a lot of nostalgia, too.

Today's event at the Indian Hills Airpark in Salome was sponsored by the McMullen Valley Chamber of Commerce. All restored automobiles are in driving condition and belong to the River Rods, a classic-car club based in Parker, Ariz. The club sports more than forty members from Parker, Lake Havasu, California, Oregon and elsewhere.

Dany and Pam Stark's 1936 Ford pickup with turquoise paint has been meticulously restored to driving condition. The engine is a 65 hp, V-8 flathead. Dany Stark's three brothers founded the River Rods in Parker, Ariz., six years ago.

Frank & Sharon Stark of Parker own this 1934 Ford Two-Door "Tudor" Sedan with silver and pearl-purple paint, 350 cubic-inch Chevrolet TH (turbo-hydromatic transmission), vintage heating/air, and purple interior by Ron Mangus of Bloomington , CA. The Starks spent one year redoing the car after acquiring it three years ago, and have been first-place winners at four out of the last five car shows. They reside in Parker, and Frank Stark is a club co-founder.

This bronze-colored 1929 Ford Model A is owned by Parker resident and club co-founder, Chuck Wadkins, brother to Dany and Chuck Stark.

A beautiful 1952 Hudson Wasp Sedan.

Don Routhieaux's 1966 Mustang with a 289 cubic-inch engine and four-barrel carburetor. He acquired the car 12 years ago before retiring from Universal Studios. His career legacy includes working on the sets of many famous movies including "Murder She Wrote", "Smoky and the Bandit", "Dual", "Oregon Trail" and on Clint Eastwood sets before the "Make my day!" flicks. Routhieaux has worked with notables such as Rod Taylor, Dean Martin, Dennis Weaver, Burt Reynolds, Steve McQueen, Natalie Wood, Lee Majors (where he met Farah Faucet every day when de picked up the actor to drive him to the set). Routhieaux lives at the Blue Water Lagoon in Parker where he has yet another Mustang, a 1965 model.

Al Lang of Parker owns this flawless 1953 Chevrolet Delivery Van, a circa 50s SUV.

This spotless 1936 Ford four-door sedan is owned by Al James of Parker.

Don & Lois Rust own this 1939 Chevrolet Convertible with cream-colored paint, a model rarely seen at car shows.

Additional information about the River Rods may be obtained by calling 520-667-3667 or by email:


Copyright (C) 2001 Ron Kilber Non-commercial reproduction permitted in its entirety with this copyright notice intact.

9:55PM 2/18/01

© Copyright 1996 - 2001 Ron Kilber All rights reserved.