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Sycamore’s Turning Back Time Car Show keeps cruising

SYCAMORE – Chuck Criswell thinks Glenn "Fizz" Ehrler would be on cloud nine if he could see what the Turning Back Time weekend car show is today.

The 2014 Fizz Ehrler Memorial Turning Back Time Car Show, presented by Hagerty Classic Car Insurance, was held Sunday in downtown Sycamore. Criswell, owner of Chuck's Auto Center in Sycamore, created the car show 15 years ago, and it was named for Ehrler, a local mechanic who grew up in Sycamore. Rose Treml, Sycamore Chamber of Commerce executive director, said about half of the people who come out for the show are locals, while the other half travel far and wide to see the show or be a part of it. There were at least 800 cars in Sunday's show.

"I love a car show," Criswell said. "It's something that, over time, would evolve into a miniature Pumpkin Fest for Sycamore. I was coming back from a car show one day and listening to oldies on the radio in the car, and that's how I got the idea."

Ehrler was present for the first show fifteen years ago, but he had cancer and knew his time was limited. Criswell and others named the event for Ehrler that year, and Ehrler died in 2001. Treml said today, the Turning Back Time weekend, which features classic cars and live oldies music every year, is on par with Pumpkin Fest in terms of bringing people to Sycamore, filling hotels and promoting local businesses.

"I remember that first year," Criswell said. "We had rain all day but we still had 375 cars in town. It was a lot for the first car show and a great thing for Sycamore."

Criswell said car shows are great for people of all ages, because older people can remember the cars, while younger people are just fascinated by them.

"We never get to see these kinds of cars," said Adam Hall, of Sycamore, who attended the car show Sunday with his family. "We come every year, and I'll take off work I have to. I spend a lot of time dreaming about the cars when I'm here."

Rudy and Penny Stynoski, of Hampshire, brought out their 1919 Ford Model T for the show. Stynoski said his father, John, was the founder of the Model T Ford Club International, and his father's interest created a love of Model T Fords that was passed down to him.

"The Model T is a big part of the auto industry," Stynoski said. "In the future, we'd like to get another for [Penny] to drive."

However, the show isn't just about the cars.

Mike Henke, owner of Hink's Bar & Grill in Sycamore, said motorcycles have been featured in the show for five years. Henke helps organize the 400 to 500 motorcycles that show up each year, and he also judges the bikes.

"It's nice to see all the bikes," Henke said. "They're not just Harleys. The variety of bikes is unbelievable. People really enjoy seeing them."

Criswell, who retired from organizing the event a few years ago, has a dream of taking the reins of the show again someday, as far in the future as that may be.

"Some day my dream is to stage a comeback after I retire, getting back in and coming back with fresh ideas and running it again," he said. "It's that feeling like a professional baseball player who wants to make a comeback again some day."

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