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ROOTED: Highway 11 Cruisers create family from shared passion

ROOTED: The club, which boasts over 300 passionate members, has raised more than $125,000 for charity through classic car shows, themed meet-ups, and weekly cruise nights

There’s little more quintessentially summer than seeing a long line of classic cars snaking down a country road on a hot day.

Members of the Highway 11 Cruisers Car Club have enjoyed this experience together for more than 10 years, coming together from as far as Wasaga Beach and Niagara Falls to enjoy a love of classic cars, fun events, and good friendship that feels more like “family.”

Founded in the summer of 2010 by current president Danny Facchini and a small group of friends, Highway 11 Cruisers Car Club today boasts more than 300 members with a wide variety of vehicular gems — classic, modern, tuner, and euro cars, trucks, motorcycles, boats, and even some vintage tractors.

With a membership that ranges from a mere two years old to 90 years old, it's safe to say there’s a vehicle to catch the eye of anyone — and everyone.

“We like to see all the smiles in the parking lot,” said Bryan Elliot, vice-president of Highway 11 Cruisers Car Club. “There’s too much drama and down-ness in the world today, so its nice to get away for a couple hours a week, have fun, and not think about everything else.”

Elliot, a nine-year member of the club, caught the classic car bug from his father. A love for cars has proved to be a family tradition, with his brother also passionate about the hobby.

Last year, Elliot made headlines as the organizer of the Highway 11 Cruisers Car Club graduation cruise, which saw 65 classic cars drive a route past Newmarket’s high schools in celebration of high school students who weren’t able to attend traditional graduation ceremonies due to COVID-19.

Inspired by the underwhelming virtual graduation options offered to his son, Zachary, the event was a socially distanced way to celebrate the hard work of students who had to endure difficult online learning– and an unexpected success.

“We put the word out, expecting maybe 10 or 15 cars to show up, and we ended up with 65,” said Elliot.

2021’s graduation cruise isn’t the only event put on by the Highway 11 Cruisers Car Club in recent times.

The club is perhaps best known in the area for its series of annual events that bring the community together to raise money for charity in a fun and unique way.

This year, they’ve hosted four standout “big shows”, alongside smaller monthly events like Ladies’ Nights, Kids’ Nights, Pet Nights, and weekly cruise nights.

Opening the season this year was the 10th annual Show, Shine, & Smoke Out Season Opener in Bradford, which featured a burnout competition, hot rod burnout pit, and charity barbecue.

The 2nd annual Summer Fest was held at the Sharon Temple in August, and welcomed an impressive array of more than 400 cars.

The 2nd annual Drive-In to Drive Out Cancer Car Show was held at Sharon’s Stardust Drive-In Theatre, and featured a free movie and show, 50/50 draw, silent auction, DJ, and $8 hair cuts — with all proceeds going towards Locks of Love and the Canadian Cancer Society. In only five hours, the event raised more than $10,000 in donations.

Earlier this month was Highway 11 Cruisers Car Club’s 12th annual Season Finale Car Show in Gormley, which featured 75 cars, live music, and food trucks and vendors, ultimately raising $3,000 for Big Brothers Big Sisters of York despite some rainy weather.

Still more annual events involve driving, such as the club’s ‘Apple’ cruise, which involves a two-hour group drive through Grey County, eventually ending at a local apple orchard.

To date, Highway 11 Cruisers Car Club has raised more than $125,000 for charity, supporting organizations such as Southlake Regional Health Centre, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, Doane House Hospice, Hockey For Grace, and the Canadian Crime Victims Foundation.

The club is 100 per cent non profit, and supports a different charity for each of its weekly Tuesday meetups.

“We try to help out as many local charities throughout the year as we can,” said Elliot.

Those interested in joining Highway 11 Cruisers Car Club are invited to attend one of their weekly cruise nights, which take place each Tuesday at 6 p.m. in Newmarket’s Harvey’s and Home Depot parking lot (17850 Yonge St).

Membership is completely free, with the club only asking you donate your time when possible throughout the year to help organize and run their different events.

“The biggest benefit is the family. You don’t just have a bunch of people with the same hobby. You become great friends… everyone is welcome,” said Elliot.