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Auto show groovin'

August 22, 2009|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI

HAGERSTOWN -- Brian Caron's mother says he got on a bicycle when he was 6 years old and he never got off of it.

That is, until he got a Volkswagen bus when he was 16.

But he still didn't give up the bike. He would alternate between the two.

Caron, now 37, has parlayed his passion for bicycles and Volkswagens into adulthood.

The president of Hagerstown BMX still owns a Volkswagen and frequents air-cooled Volkswagen car shows.

"I go to (BMX) freestyle shows and people talk about their Volkswagens," Caron said. "Then, I ride around on a bike in the pit at Volkswagen shows and people say, 'Hey! I used to have one of those.'"

Thus was born the idea of a Simple Transport show, featuring German air-cooled cars and bicycles -- the perfect fundraiser for Hagerstown BMX.

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"These two simple forms of transportation have been around for a long time and have stood the test of time," Caron said. "They've evolved over the years, but never strayed far from their original design."

So Saturday, about 60 air-cooled cars and buses and 20 bicycles rolled into Fairgrounds Park for Simple Transport II. In a nod to Volkswagen's German design, Caron scheduled the event to run simultaneously with Hagerstown's Augustoberfest, a celebration of the city's German heritage.

Favorite Simple Transport bikes included a motorized three-wheeler and an 1882 Columbia Exert -- the type with a giant high wheel in front.

As for the air-cooled cars -- meaning cars without radiators -- there were a number of standouts. Even those who were not necessarily Volkswagen enthusiasts seemed wowed by the flip-seat campers and meticulously restored Rolling Donut bus.

Perhaps the biggest scene stealer was a 1966 bus that will be featured in Ang Lee's soon to be released film "Taking Woodstock." Decorated inside and out with flowers, paisley and tie-dye prints, the light green van is the pride of Volkswagen enthusiasts Jason Kaufman, 37, and Dustan Thompson, 40, both of Waynesboro, Pa.

"We just work on Volkswagens on the side as a hobby. It's a live, love, drive thing," Kauffman said. "Now, (our bus) is on the second page of 'Rolling Stone.'"

In case rows of groovy pop-top campers and movie star buses were not enough entertainment, Simple Transport went a step further. A lively crew of young BMX freestylers performed an adrenaline-pumping demonstration, cranking up to a ramp, then flying and flipping -- both body and bike -- through midair.

Adept with BMX turns of phrases such as "a 360 tail whip," "a no-handed fakey" and "Schmedley put her in the stratosphere," Caron served as an enthusiastic announcer for the demo.

"Whoa! A cross-footer. I mean buck wild! Bang, bang, poppin' it up right there! This day is crazy," he said as young men clad in skinny jeans and T-shirts ripped through the air.

Craig Worley, 38, of Falls Church, Va., attended the event.

"This is pretty cool," he said. "I'm not that into Volkswagens, but I'm impressed that there are so many cool cars in this area."

Worley then went on to show the younger guys some tricks on his own, including surfing on one of Caron's bikes. He stood manipulating the bike with one work boot-clad foot on the seat and another on the handlebars.

Caron estimated about 500 people attended the event, raising around $500 for Hagerstown BMX. He said the money would be used toward BMX events and races, for trophies and for other expenses.

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