Another year of fun at Big Mama’s |

Another year of fun at Big Mama’s

by Jo Rafferty

What’s a car show without its share of convertibles?

Big, cool, shiny ones.

Lori and Mark Malnack of Gardnerville brought their ’72 Mustang convertible to the seventh annual Big Mama’s Show & Shine Car Show at Lampe Park, Saturday.

“I love my Mustang,” she said, sporting a necklace with the Mustang insignia. “It’s the one I always wanted as a teenager. It took 30-odd-plus years, but here it is.”

The Malnack’s car was one of about 120 classic cars that were in the spotlight in Gardnerville.

The weather was warm with a slight breeze, nice for car owners, vendors and people who came to enjoy the day and look at the vehicles.

“I know one thing – there are a lot of neat cars coming through, all different years, types and colors,” said Dan Walker, as he directed vehicles onto the lawn for the car show, which benefits the Douglas County Meals on Wheels program.

The sounds of the Four Seasons’ “Sherry Baby” and Frankie Avalon’s “Venus” filled the air, with music provided by Time Warp.

Lori Malnack said their car is called a “resto-mod,” short for restoration-modified.

“It’s a 4.6 2002,” she said. “But, it’s not a stock car.”

“It looks like a stock car,” said Mark Malnack. “But if you lift the hood, it’s a modern car.”

Malnack said he is a mechanic by trade and he customized the engine with parts from several different makes, such as a Chevy racing radiator.

“I kept shaving it until it fit,” he said.

“He did it. I just kept the beer and sandwiches coming,” said Lori Malnack.

The Mustang’s original cost was $4,500, and today it’s worth approximately $18,000.

The couple said they were both raised in “car show families.”

“We cruise once a week,” said Lori Malnack. “We just cruise, and eat. Our youngest, 17, will be here later. It just keeps the family tight. It’s a family deal.”

Parked next to the Mustang was a 1936 Packard 1406 Dietrich Sedan convertible, black with an egg shell interior. Myles Douglas of Gardnerville said he has owned it for three years.

“We were here last year. We take it all over the country,” he said.

The vehicle, with two spare tires on the sides, was originally purchased in St. Louis, Mo., for about $5,050, and Douglas had no estimate of what it’s worth today.

He said he likes to bring it to Big Mama’s Show & Shine Car Show because it benefits senior citizens.

Mark Coffey was working at the car show for the fifth year.

“It’s going good. Everybody’s happy,” he said. “There are so many different cars. There are so many beautiful ones from all over.”

Esther Hildebrand is the original Big Mama, from which the car show is named. She attended the car show, as well as her two sons and two grandsons who were judging the cars.

Hildebrand credits Russ White, Donna Bournazian and Douglas County Senior Center’s recreation coordinator Linda Kyriakopoulos for coming up with the idea for Big Mama’s Show & Shine Car Show.

“One Halloween I made this real racy costume with high-heel boots and fishnet stockings and a little short skirt with bloomers underneath, and Russ White told Linda, ‘Why don’t you do a car show? I’ll help you,'” Hildebrand said. “Russ decided since it was the Saturday before Mother’s Day they’d name it ‘Big Mama.’ They called me in and said you’re going to be the Big Mama and wear that costume.”

She admits she’s quit wearing the high heels, although she’s still the Big Mama.

Participants came from Northern California, Reno, Sparks, Carson City, Carson Valley area, Lake Tahoe and even one from Pahrump, according to Kyriakopoulos.

“We received a great response of raffle prizes from businesses in Reno, Sparks, Carson City, Stateline and Carson Valley,” she said. “This year we were happy to have Reds Old 395 Grill, of Carson City be our special dash plaque sponsor. Carson Valley Lions Club did the barbecue for us and did a great job turning out the hamburgers and hot dogs. Donna Bournazian and Cindy Petersen, senior center employees, did a great job helping on the preparation of this day and getting up early to help run things at the event.

“One thing is for sure, I could not have done this event without the help of our volunteers from the senior center and outside helpers. This event keeps getting bigger each year and I hope everyone who attended had a good time and enjoyed those beautiful classics.”

Big Mama’s T-shirts are still available at $15 each. For information, call the senior center, 783-6455, and ask for Linda Kyriakopoulos.

— Jo Rafferty can be reached at or 782-5121, ext. 210.