Cruisin’ Tahoe: 75 miles of perfect scenery await driving enthusiasts | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Cruisin’ Tahoe: 75 miles of perfect scenery await driving enthusiasts

Dylan Silver
Tahoe Magazine

Tribune file photoA pair of "Hot August Nights" dice hang in the window of a blue 1968 Pontiac Firebird parked Friday at the MontBleu Resort Casino & Spa for the Hot August Nights Daily Show-n-Shine and car judging. A pair of "Hot August Nights" dice hang in the window of a blue 1968 Pontiac Firebird parked Friday at the MontBleu Resort Casino & Spa for the Hot August Nights Daily Show-n-Shine and car judging.

LAKE TAHOE – As you whip around the switchback turns of Highway 89, the fine-tuned engine humming, the curves of the body gleaming in late morning sun, Lake Tahoe slips into view from over the ridge. With the top back, the warm air is filled with sweet smells: sugar pine, cedar, lupine.

At the top, tiny Cascade Lake on one side and effervescent Emerald Bay on the other, the view is endless. You almost pull over, but there’s too much dreamy scenery along the road ahead.

“It’s the most beautiful place in the world to drive your car,” said Tom Argo, a South Lake Tahoe classic car enthusiast, who helps organize several of the South Shore car shows. “In the 75 miles around the lake you get a cruise that people pay a lot of money to vacation in.”

With eight car shows around Tahoe and hundreds of classics cruising between Sacramento and Reno for shows, Lake Tahoe is a fine location to let the wind whip over your hood and the whitewalls sink into some turns. Then, when the cruising is over, why not pull into a parking lot with dozens of other auto enthusiasts and kick back with a cold one?

“You can’t ask for anything better on an August night than hanging out with your buddies and your cars with the public all around,” says Bruce Benham, a local old truck buff.

But it’s not all sun, convertibles and car shows up here. The winters can be tough for car owners, says Benham. Some take that time to hide away in their garage, tinkering on new projects or tuning old ones. Others put the covers on and wait for the snow to melt.

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Come Memorial Day, shining bodies wheel out of their dark hiding places. Argo pulls out his bright red 1952 Chevrolet convertible for a drive around the lake, a cruise he does at least once a year. Old friends check out the winter’s work and as the touring classics roll into town, new friends are made.

“The locals are kind of a host group of people,” Argo said. “It’s a fun way to welcome people into town.”