A large gathering of Firebirds recently descended on the small town of Pontiac, IL on May 22nd, 2016. They landed at the Pontiac-Oakland Museum, and their purpose was to hold one of the largest gathering of Firebirds ever held in the Chicagoland area. The Midwest Firebird Club, in conjunction with the Pontiac-Oakland Museum, hosted the event titled “Firebird Day At The Museum”. Over 70 Firebirds, Formulas, and Trans Ams attended, and the small town atmosphere, coupled with sunny 71 degree weather, made for a perfect weekend for Firebird fans.
The largest Firebird show in the country is of course the Trans Am Nationals, held every August in Dayton, OH. This show typically pulls in 350+ Firebirds from around the nation. One of the highlights of this show is the Saturday night cruise where around 200 cars gather in the small town of Tipp City for the evening. I’ve been attending the Trans Am Nationals for the past 20 years, and one cannot help but notice the diminishing number of 1st Generation (1967-1969)
Firebirds and the growing number of 4th Generation Firebirds (1993-2002) on display. Sadly, in 2015 there were only about twenty 1st Generation Firebirds at the Trans Am Nationals. Interest in 1st Generation Firebirds has not declined, but fewer and fewer early Firebirds are driven to the show, and the ones that do attend are usually trailered.
This is where the Midwest Firebird Club differs from other clubs. Most of its club members actually drive their Firebirds to shows! Granted, there are Midwest Firebirds members that have national show winning Firebirds, and of course some of these show winners do require trailering in order to maintain their pristine condition. But I can honestly say that the Midwest Firebirds show in Pontiac IL had more 1967-1969 Firebirds on display than at the Trans Am Nationals! I’m anticipating the Midwest Firebirds/Pontiac Museum event to grow larger and larger each year. The laid back atmosphere of the quaint downtown Pontiac area, the hospitality of Tim and Penny Dye from the Pontiac-Oakland Museum, and the friendliness of the participants, is something that is becoming a bit rare in the world today. Midwest Firebirds president Ken Pitcher is the perfect representative for the club, and his hard work and dedication to the group reflects the friendliness and likeability of its club members.
Back to the show! Two caravans of Firebirds were organized, ensuring those that participated had support from fellow members in the event of any unexpected mechanical breakdown. Not that breakdowns are common, but there’s no way to predict when some mechanical glitch will occur on these 40+ year vehicles, so it’s nice to travel in a group (thankfully, no one had any trouble en route to the show). Members met at a vintage gas station in Odell, and Dwight, IL for a quick photo shoot. The scene was reminiscent of the art prints we see today showing a gathering of muscle cars with some historic backdrop (like a drive-in burger joint or car
dealership), but in this case, artwork wasn’t necessary, the photos were real!
The Pontiac-Oakland Museum’s gift shop is chock full of cool memorabilia to buy, from modern day t-shirts to original Pontiac dealer artifacts. There was a quick tour of all three floors of the museum conducted by curator Tim Dye, which included viewing some off limits areas (to be open sometime in the future) and a trolley trip to visit another noteworthy car collection in the immediate area, the Alan Finkbinder Collection.
For those planning on attending next year (or anytime!) there is also an excellent museum called the Route 66 Museum, along with the Livingston Country War Museum, which is a wonderful place for those interested in 20th century wartime artifacts. These museums, along with the Pontiac-Oakland Museum, are free to the public.
The club presented a large donation to the Pontiac-Oakland Museum in appreciation for all they do for us Pontiac fans. There was also a raffle with merchandise donated by the event sponsors. Big thanks to Tim and Penny Dye, Dave Sullivan, and club president Ken Pitcher!
(Story by Mike Noun, pictures by Mike Noun, Dave Sullivan and Ken Pitcher. Editor’s Note: Mike Noun creates accurate, authentic reproduction Pontiac Window Stickers for 1964-1979 Pontiacs, and is also a regular writer for POCI’s Smoke Signals magazine. He is also one of the technical advisers for Midwest Firebirds.)
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