High-octane nostalgia fuels low-speed Cobe Cup auto 'race'

2012-05-26T18:20:00Z 2012-05-30T09:18:08Z High-octane nostalgia fuels low-speed Cobe Cup auto 'race'By Melanie Csepiga Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
May 26, 2012 6:20 pm  • 

LOWELL | One by one, cars and trucks of every make, age and color pulled onto the grounds of American Legion Post 101 on Saturday in the culmination of the 103rd Annual Cobe Cup.

Following in the tire tracks of those who drove in the 1909 Cobe Cup Race, believed to be Indiana's first major auto race and precursor to the Indy 500, participants wound their way from the Lake County Fairgrounds, along the "Nine-Mile Stretch" and past Buckley Homestead to Lowell.

Karen Cearing, of the Crossroads Chamber of Commerce which sponsored the event with the Lowell Chamber of Commerce, said this year's 130 entries were a "record breaking" number.

Brothers Don Obermeyer, 72, of Valparaiso, and Jim Obermeyer, 81, of Crown Point, drove a 1908 Model F Buick in its first public outing since it was restored. It was purchased by their grandfather in Lafayette and had been lost for 20 years under piles of items in an old barn.

"It survived the World War II scrap drives," Jim Obermeyer said. He added his brother handled most of the restoration.

"It took six years to restore. I've never done anything like that before," Don Obermeyer said.

The vehicle drew plenty of attention from visitors.

James Holobowski, of St. John, and his 2000 Millennium Cherry Red Corvette received plenty of looks, too.

"This is my first. ... I just decided to come out. It's a beautiful ride. Gorgeous weather. A great experience," he said.

Resting in the shade with his extended family, auto restoration hobbyist Nick Budack, of Crown Point, had six vehicles in the Cobe Cup. His 1932 Chevrolet Confederate captured the Harrison Snell Family Memorial Panache Award with a vehicle once owned by the late Harrison Snell.

"It took him four years to restore," his daughter, Julie Malkowski, of Lowell, said. "He works about eight hours every day on the cars."

Not far away, Cedar Lake's Robert Kralek took home the Best of Show Truck Award for his restored 1952 Chevrolet.

"I bought it in 1997, took it apart and put it back together," he said.

His 11-year old granddaughter, Pandora Ortiz, accompanied him and said the drive on the back country roads was "way cool."

Lowell Chamber President Carrie Austgen was pleased with the turnout and the celebratory mood. Goodie bags from the chamber were distributed to all race participants.

Judges for the event were former Ken Hirata, Allen Hopper and Tom Wietbrock.

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