Dave Seper, a recently retired Boulder police sergeant, wanted to pay tribute to those who died in the mass shooting at the south Boulder King Soopers in March.
So he turned the best-in-show award at the annual charity car show he organizes into the “Boulder Strong” award to honor all 10 people who lost their lives, as well as renaming two other awards to honor two of the victims: Boulder Police Officer Eric Talley and Special Olympian Teri Leiker.
“I’m going to carry these changes on every year,” Seper said. “I don’t want people to forget.”
Along with honoring those who died, the ninth annual StarLite Classic Car & Motorcycle Show continued to benefit Special Olympics Colorado and the Law Enforcement Torch Run. The show was held Sunday at the 22nd annual Boulder Creek Hometown Festival in downtown Boulder.
Altogether, 54 cars competed in the show. Another four were brought in from the garage of Stephen Tebo, of Tebo Properties, for display.
The awards ceremony started with Tim Lambert, a senior deputy with the Adams County Sheriff’s Office, playing “Amazing Grace” on bagpipes, followed by a moment of silence.
The car show includes prizes in each of 10 categories, including a recently added modern classic category for cars made after 1985. This year’s “Boulder Strong” best-of-show award, as well as the people’s choice award, went to a 1956 Ford T-Bird owned by Jodie Brown.
The “Top Cop” award, which goes to a current or retired police officer with a car in the show, was given in Talley’s honor. Talley, who was the first officer to respond to the shooting, was a longtime supporter of Special Olympics and a Torch Run member.
The “Flame of Hope” award, which goes to a car chosen by Special Olympics athletes, was given in Leiker’s honor. Leiker, who spent 31 years working at King Soopers as a courtesy clerk, was a Special Olympian who participated in track and field, basketball and softball.
One of the first place awards went to a 1969 Chevrolet Indy 500 pace car owned by Syd Swennes of Lafayette.
He found the car for sale near Chicago through an automotive magazine and spent five years tracking down original parts to restore it. The car, he said, was a gift to the city of Indianapolis and used to advertise the race. After the race, it ended up sold to a Buick dealer, who gave it to a son who “tore the hell out of it.”
While he has restored other cars, he said, the pace car is his favorite. He’s taken it to 60 car shows, winning 58 awards.
“You meet a lot of car people at shows,” he said. “It’s a lot of fun.”
Norm Smith, who lives in Denver, received the Boulder Creek staff pick StarLite award for his “cardinal red” 1957 Chevrolet Suburban. He bought the car in 1983 and spent nine years restoring it.
“These cars are accomplishments, and people like to show their accomplishments,” he said. “I never know when another restored car is going to show up. You can learn from other cars.”
Rob Myhre brought his black 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air to the show. He kept everything original to the car, saying it was “perfect when it came out of the factory.” He found it in Pennsylvania, where he said it was stored for years by the mistress of a man who hid it when he got in trouble over taxes.
“It’s a classic Americana vehicle,” he said. “It doesn’t get more classic than a ’57 Chevy. I bring it to shows because I want to show it off.”
Friends Theo Chasnow and Pascal Pezzillo, both 15, were part of the crowd checking out the cars.
“They’re beautiful,” said Theo, who said his favorites are the Camaros. “It’s so cool to look at all these cars from different eras.”
Added Pascal, who prefers Mustangs, “It’s cool to see how much work goes into them.”
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