View Full Version : Tornadoes, Storms and a ‘Great” Studebaker Chapter

Henry Votel
05-26-2008, 08:15 PM
Tornadoes, Storms and a ‘Great” Studebaker Chapter.

It’s over now. The events that preceded it could not have been predicted. The old saying ‘The Show Must Go On” prevailed and was probably the basis for much support, in spite of the preceding events.

The Minnesota North Star Chapter, 180± strong has two cars shows annually, Memorial Day & Labor Day. For the past two years our shows have been at the Blacksmith Lounge In Hugo, Mn. This is about 1 mile North of the developed area of this Minnesota City on U.S. Highway #61.

The predicted weather was beautiful for Monday Memorial Day, some rain expected on the preceeding Sunday evening. We do our field setup on the Sunday afternoon. Arranging fencing, table setups, registration desk, banners, field stripping, etc. On Sunday afternoon I along with my two boys and Bob Shaw, (SDC Web Master) set up the event. We got done in 3 hours and everything went well, Nice cool afternoon, beautiful skies and our prediction of over 350 cars for Memorial Day as beautiful weather was anticipated.

Treated my boys to Horseshoe Burgers at the Blacksmith and got home about 4± pm. TV started to to tell about incoming bad weather from our Western Suburbs. Put away our stuff. By 5± pm the sirens were going off and we were watching the skies and observing the winds. 5:15± pm we heard ‘the train’. Knew it was South of our farm, but could not see anything. “The Train”, if you have never heard one sounds like rumbling thunder that does not stop. Tornado! Hey, we headed for our basement. There was no wind at our place and that is a bad sign during a Tornado or thunderstorm because usually it proceeds a big blast. We had been watching the weather radar on TV and learned that the area had cleared out quickly and the weather threat had gone East after 5-10 minutes. Well we were OK and no damage. Yet within 10 minutes we had dark clouds again, cold boiling, high winds and then hail. Thankfully it was only 1/2 inch hail, but it came down and covered the ground and piled like snow. . .

After 10 minutes the hail stopped and blue skies started rolled in and we were relieved. Then sirens on emergency vehicles, one after another for over an hour going South of us on Highway #61. Something big had happened. By 6± the news started to flow in about a Tornado touching down South of us and estimates of damage and injury. Finally the area damaged was identified as South of our place about 2-1/4 miles, with about 100± homes severely damaged and 200-300 of the homes and businesses damaged. Things were bad with a child killed and 10± injured. Area closed off, emergency vehicles incoming, helicopters flooding into to area well into the evening.


At a loss for words. It could easily have been two miles North at my family and our home. We all shared a special prayer for sparing our family.

7± pm decided we better check the Show Field at the Blacksmith. Arrived to find the Blacksmith Lounge had electricity and was operating. All our afternoon striping was washed away, leaves and crud all over the porticos and registration area. Big, fast cleanup by my wife Trish, three children and myself. It was too late to do anything but scramble so we cleaned it up, striped the field again, in spite of ponded water on the ground in many spots. Redid what took us 3 hours earlier in less than 2 hours.

Well, what to do? The show must go on! Bob Shaw (SDC WebMaster) was the named contact on our show flyer and he fielded dozens of calls about the show. We blasted an email to Chapter members and our list of past attendees advising the Show was a go.

Monday, 5:30 am I’m up and washing my ‘54 Coupe as I had no time to do it yesterday. Shower shine and pull it together to arrive at the Blacksmith at 7 am to help setup. A few North Star Members arrived at 7 am and by 8 am we had a full crew in place that had opened the grounds early and were admitting show cars.

05-26-2008, 08:24 PM
Good to hear that you're okay and the event was a success. We have had some close calls here in Arkansas and some folks nearby were not as blessed. Rough spring.

1952 Champion Starlight, 1962 Daytona. Searcy,Arkansas

05-26-2008, 08:48 PM
Henry. I'm into old barns, and I just love yours. Glad you had no damage, and feel sad for the folks south of you.
Is the small out building an old somke house?


05-27-2008, 01:49 AM
It was a very good show. GREAT JOB !!! As a side note, I have never seen so many police in a 15 mile radius to that show in my life.

There were a number of odd ball cars there.....a early 60's Plymouth Station wagon with an all original hemi in it, the Model A p/u and the Alvis, that one is new to me. Who won? Thanks again, fun time.

58 Packard Wgn (Parade Red)
58 Packard Wgn (Park Green)
58 Packard Sdn (Shadowtone Red)
62 Daytona (White)
63 R2 Lark (Super Red)

05-27-2008, 11:54 AM
That was a near miss, indeed. Glad your family and home were spared. Saw that on the news and wondered if it was near anyone on the forum. Prayers to all. Thanks for the time and considerable effort to keep the show on and representing our SDC in the process. 242 cars...still a big car show. Great to put a face to the webmaster, too. Thanks for the pictures, Henry.


Henry Votel
05-27-2008, 02:45 PM
Hi Ebon,

Thanks for the compliment on the Barn. Regularly upgrading and rehabbing it. If the wife ever gets rid of her horse I will be able to get 4 more Studebakers under cover! Small white building was originally the milk can cooling/store room as the farm had cows. Now a horse tack room.

Henry Votel
Forest Lake, MN


Henry. I'm into old barns, and I just love yours. Glad you had no damage, and feel sad for the folks south of you.

Is the small out building an old somke house?