Inaugural Lions Spirit of Giving Cruise and Coat Drive Honoring Veterans

When I received a press release mentioning that the Lions Automobilia Foundation Museum was conducting the Spirit of Giving Cruise and Coat Drive on November 12, 2022, for “Lions Appreciation Day,” I not only knew I had to attend but also wanted to see the Lions Museum once again as I did when it opened three years ago. I got my start in drag racing photography at the iconic Lions Dragstrip, Irwindale Raceway, Orange County Raceway, Pomona and Ontario Motor Speedway shooting for Hot Rod, Popular Hot Rodding and Car Craft magazines back in the day and most importantly, I am a U.S. Army veteran so this tribute occasion was a must for me to attend.

Armistice Day, now called Veterans Day (President Eisenhower signed this in 1954), is observed on November 11 as a federal holiday in the U.S honoring military veterans of the US armed forces and marking the anniversary of the end of WWI. Interestingly, WWI ended with a ceasefire on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918.

, Inaugural Lions Spirit of Giving Cruise and Coat Drive Honoring Veterans, ClassicCars.com Journal
Photo by Howard Koby

The Lions Automobilia Foundation Museum, founded by Rick Lorenzen, was built to honor car culture and it consists of an enormous collection of drag racing cars set against a 4,000 sq foot diorama of the starting line bridge from Lions with hand painted bleachers featuring images of spectators devouring the historic drag racing action.

, Inaugural Lions Spirit of Giving Cruise and Coat Drive Honoring Veterans, ClassicCars.com Journal
Photo by Howard Koby

Lorenzen himself is a veteran, having served in the Coast Guard, so this charitable venture was close to his heart in addition to honoring the fallen, helping families who lost vets in the line of duty. As Lana Chrisman, executive director at the Lions Automobilia Foundation and Museum states, “The drive will benefit the U.S. Vets Long Beach bringing together Southern California automotive enthusiasts and veterans during the holiday to collect warm coats for homeless veterans and those in need.”

Ms. Crisman recently was honored by SEMA as “Woman of the Year” through Businesswomen’s Network.

, Inaugural Lions Spirit of Giving Cruise and Coat Drive Honoring Veterans, ClassicCars.com Journal
Rick Lorenzen in the game room. Photo by Howard Koby

In addition to the recreated the Lions Drag Strip starting line, there is a Main Street Gallery highlighting Southern California car culture and motorsports history. In the Main Street gallery, classic cars are placed in front of an unbelievably authentic 1950s diner where you’re tempted to get on a stool and order a milkshake. An onsite restoration workshop keeps the classics in top shape and is a learning facility for young adults.

, Inaugural Lions Spirit of Giving Cruise and Coat Drive Honoring Veterans, ClassicCars.com Journal
Photo by Howard Koby

Lorenzen grew up near Lions Dragstrip and was always infatuated with modified Willys, so he bought a 1941 Coupe for $65 in 1960 and worked on it in his friend’s backyard. His passion for Willys has remained intact and through the years he amassed an impressive collection of about 50 Willys. Of course that first ’41 Coupe is at the forefront in the museum. Over 100 vintage muscle cars, hot rods and classics are beautifully staged next to neon signs and movie marques in diorama fashion. One of the pristine condition1966 Batmobiles, authenticated by Gorge Barris, sits in front of a skylight mural with the Bat-Signal in the sky indicating a way for the police in Gotham City to call on the caped crusader.     

The ClassicCars.com Journal

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