First published in the June 18 print issue of the Burbank Leader.
In 1952, Elvis Presley was a high school kid who worked as an usher in a Memphis theater; a beetle, spelled with a double-e, was a bug; a rolling stone was a transient nomad; the only Dylan anyone had ever heard of was a Welsh poet; and back in Brooklyn, no one could have imagined their professional baseball team would soon be abandoning them for Los Angeles.
In Burbank, that year saw the birth of an organization – the Road Kings – that, in its own right, went on to prove to be as enduring as the King of Rock n’ Roll, the mop-topped lads from Liverpool, Mick and the boys, and that second great poet named Dylan – the one who also sang.
This past Sunday, members of the Road Kings of Burbank celebrated their 70th anniversary by returning their classic car and motorcycle show to Johnny Carson Park following a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic.
“Everyone is ecstatic that we’re back, our members, vendors, local car enthusiasts, everyone who has come to love this show that has become a part of the tradition of the Road Kings and the city of Burbank,” said longtime member Don Baldaseroni.
Sunday’s event, which gave attendees the opportunity to peruse the wares of 45 vendors and get up-close, in and on to more than 300 vintage vehicles, was kicked off by the national anthem sung by local entertainer Ricky Medlin Jr., who is better known as “Rat Pack Ricky.”
Following welcoming remarks by Baldaseroni and Road Kings President Bruce Borst, local dignitaries took their turns in honoring the organization, which, over the years, has raised more than $200,000 for local charities, nonprofits and schools.
The group was honored by Mayor Jess Talamantes with a proclamation and Leslie Smith, representing the Burbank Chamber of Commerce. Also, state Sen. Anthony Portantino presented Borst with a senate resolution honoring the Road Kings for 70 years of supporting the community and keeping California car culture alive.
Assemblywoman Laura Friedman, who was in attendance with her 8-year-old daughter, Rachel Lemoine, also recognized the organization for what it has done, and is still doing.
“This is a great day to bring people together during a time when, more than ever, we need to be brought together,” Friedman told the assemblage.
Initially formed as a racing club, many of the Road Kings founding members were renowned professional or semi-professional drag racers including “TV Tommy” Ivo, Don Prudhomme, Don “The Beach Comber” Johnson, and Burbank’s own Bob Muravez, who attended Sunday’s show.
Over the years, along with benefiting the auto shop programs at Burroughs and Burbank high schools, the group has also supported the Burbank Police and Fire Museum, Boy Scouts of America’s Verdugo Hills Council, the Boys & Girls Club of Burbank and Greater East Valley, Burbank Temporary Aid Center, Tierra del Sol, Relay for Life and the Burbank Coordinating Council’s holiday basket program.
For more information about the Road Kings of Burbank, membership and upcoming events, visit roadkings.net.
DAVID LAURELL may be reached by email at email@example.com or (818) 563-1007.