Hey all you hepcats out there, come check out the Steeltown Shakedown. Welcome to old-skool car culture in Western Pennsylvania.
Back in September, my girlfriend and I made the trip over to McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania, a stone’s throw from Pittsburgh, to the annual Steeltown Shakedown hosted by the Drifters Car Club. The event was held at the Twin Hi-Way Drive-in. I had been intending to bring my 1970 Beetle to the event but as things go, it was otherwise not available. So my girlfriend and I hauled off in my Subaru.
Though I love my analogue, I decided to bring my Sony DSLR with me just for kicks. But as luck would have it, I had left my battery in the charger so I was all analogue that day. Lucky for me, I had brought my old Kodak Automatic 35 (see it in a review that I did) with me to document the day. I also had a roll of LOMO 100 and a couple rolls of Kodak Gold 200 so I was covered.
The drive was great and we arrived there after most all of the old cars had gotten there. It was like we stepped back in time to the 50’s when we got out of my car. We also had dressed the part, me in my cuffed jeans, sneakers and ever-present hat and my girlfriend looking hot in her pencil skirt, pinup hair and red lipstick. That’s right, we looked good.
The place was packed with cars and motorcycles from the early days, all the way up to the 70’s. While the Drifters CC hosted the event, other local clubs had a presence as well like the Sacred Pistons Car Club, who co-sponsored the event. Also there, was the Steel City Mods Vs Rockers motorcycle club. It was the largest event they had ever seen at the Twin Hi-way, and I was only saddened that my beloved 1970 VW Beetle “Pac-Rat” could not make the trip, but I digress.
And what cruise-in would be complete without some great rockabilly music. The tunes were provided by local bands The Turbosonics and The Legendary Hucklebucks. They kept the party rockin’ til nightfall, except when some of the local beauties participated in the annual pin-up contest.
Once night fell, and after some of the folks cleared out, it was time for the movie. They sure picked a gem, maybe one of the best car movies of all time; American Graffiti. It made me feel like we were crazy kids back in the 50’s.
So if your tooling around Western Pennsylvania in mid-September and you’re looking for a great show, you could do no better than to check out the spectacle that is the Steeltown Shakedown. You might just see me there too. You might not see my face, but you will see a camera with a hat on top.
PS. If you are driving to McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania by way of US 30 West, be sure to make a pitstop in Chester, West Virginia to see the world’s largest tea pot. Seriously, it’s pretty cool.
Tim Pawlak (aka 110isnotdead) is a librarian, writer, photographer and amateur historian (gotta use that History Degree somewhere). Massillon, Ohio (about an hour south of Cleveland) is where he calls home. He loves to get the feel of every new town he comes to and capture it on film. So if you make your way down the mighty Tuscarawas River, you’ll probably find him with his head buried in a lens.