by Dennis Dalman
Cory Wruck of St. Joseph is most definitely a Pontiac guy while his in-laws are Chevy and Ford Mustang people.
“I don’t hold it against them, though,” Wruck said.
Wruck is a founding member of the “Muscle Car Mafia,” as his car club is often called in tongue-in-cheek fashion.
The Muscle Car Mafia will host Motorfest Mania Aug. 25 in the parking lot of the El Paso Bar and Grill in St. Joseph. The show is free for specators. Those who want to enter the cruise and/or display cars in the show must pay a $5 entry fee. The show will start with a car line-up at 10:30 a.m. After the car’s owners take them for a cruise, the cars will return at noon, and an awards show at 4 p.m. will showcase the “favorite cars,” based on a vote from those who attend the show. Anyone can bring favorite cars to the show. There is a small registration fee to be in the show.
The other founding members of the Muscle Car Maria are Kevin Fautsch of St. Joseph and Brian Engele of Sauk Rapids. Those two men, like Wruck, are also Pontiac guys who revere GTOs and Firebirds. Since they started the club in 2009, 27 newcomers have joined, the club’s membership is 40 percent female and two of the six club officers are women.
“The club is just an excuse to get together and enjoy old cars,” Wruck said.
“One day I was hanging out with Brian (Engele), and I told him I just had the best worst idea ever – starting up a car club. He thought about it awhile and said to me, ‘Count me in.’ “
Other long-time members of the club are the fathers of the three buddies – Jim Fautsch, Steve Wruck and Larry Engele.
The members of the Muscle Car Mafia are not snobs of exclusivity. Any owner of any kind of car can join and feel welcome, whether their favorite cars are hot rods, old classics or brand-new models.
“Our families were all associated with old cars and drag racing for a long time,” Wruck said. “We used to go the Brainerd Speedway a lot. We’d race by day and sit around a campfire at night.”
As the young men became a bit older, they started marrying and having kids, and some of that good old male bonding began to erode. The club, in one sense, is a way to bring back that good-ol’-boy camaraderie.
Wruck and his wife, Tami, are the proud owners of a fire-engine red 1969 Pontiac GTO.
“Tami and I wanted it just to drive around in, so I bought it,” he said. “The engine’s been rebuilt. I bought it from a guy in Elk River last spring. I’m not into show cars, but there are a lot of owners of show cars in our club.”
His GTO can cause Wruck to wax nostalgic. He vividly remembers a brown GTO his father had years ago. It was sold to a cousin.
“I never forgot that car, and when I turned driving age, I begged me dad to get another GTO like the brown one,” Wruck said.
The members of the Muscle Car Mafia get together at least once a month. They love to cruise around in their cars and usually end up at restaurants along their routes.
“A lot of what we do revolves around food,” Wruck said. “We also go to a lot of car shows, like the ones at the Annandale car museum. For two generations, we’ve been in love with cars. Our passion for cars is practically genetic.”
Wruck is a job-maintenance technician at Creative Memories. His wife works for Bremer Trust.