Rapid Tappets

Organizers of the Rapid Tappets Dust Off planned for May 26 at Shenango High School parking lot, are from left, Bob Stoner, Mike Caggiano and Richard Carbone.

It’s time to shine up those cruisin’ cars, street rods and antique models and get them rolling on the road.

The New Castle Rapid Tappets Car club is getting ready for its 29th annual Dust Off, a car show that the members hope this year will attract about 300 cars.

This year’s event is planned for Sunday in the parking lot of Shenango High School on Route 65. In the event of rain, the show, which will also feature music by deejay Greg Marshall, door prizes and a basket and gift raffle, will be moved to June 1. T-shirts also will be available from the gathering.

Three of the organizers, Mike Caggiano, Bob Stoner and Richard Carbone, say they are excited about this year’s event, because all of their car shows and gatherings are a lot of fun.

Owners of antique, classic and special interest cars are welcome to attend. A fee of $2 per car is required for a registration dashboard plaque.

A portion of the proceeds will go to benefit a local charity, to be determined by a vote of club members after the event.

No alcoholic beverages will be allowed at the show.

The Rapid Tappets car club was organized 30 years ago — in August 1989 — named after a 1950s car club.

“We added New Castle to the name to identify the location of it,” Stoner explained.

Caggiano noted during the summer months, the club has its outings and shows on various nights of the week, and the members are always taking their cars somewhere to be displayed. For example, on Mondays, they go to Lowellville, Ohio. On Tuesdays, they gather at the Dairy Queen in West Middlesex, Mercer County, and on Wednesdays the meeting place is Hugger Mugger in Shenango Township.

“After that, on the weekends, you don’t know where you’re going to be,” Caggiano said. They often travel beyond the borders of Lawrence County, and sometimes the club members take their cars to Quaker Steak and Lube in Boardman on Fridays.

“We could probably show the cars every day if we wanted to,” Caggiano said.

In its early days, the club’s car show was held on the Columbus Inner Belt downtown. The members remembered Eat’n Park restaurant, which is now closed, having been instrumental in allowing cars to cruise through.

Currently, the Rapid Tappets have six charter members and 110 general members, who include restorers and owners of race cars, street rods and antique cars. While most of the members range in the 60s and 70s age group, the club is open to any age. Current members were all in their 30s when it was started.

While the club consists mostly of Lawrence County members, it is open to people from outside of the county and has members from Mercer, Butler and Beaver counties. The member from farthest away is from Tallmadge, Ohio, Caggiano pointed out.

On the day of the show and in preparation, everybody in the club including the wives do something to make it happen, he explained. “Everyone in the club is friends, and they just dig in and it’s fun.”

Stoner is the club president, Carbone is on its board of directors and Caggiano is “a very active member.”

The club’s only rule is that all of the cars entered at shows must be American-made, Caggiano emphasized, adding that lately, a lot of Corvettes have been showing up.

“There’s no limit on how new or old they are,” he said. Some cars in the show are from the 1920s.

“There are guys in the club who are capable of building a car from the ground up,” Caggiano said. Pointing at Carbone, he said, “Rich can do it.”

Caggiano owns a 1939 Chevy and a Corvette. Stoner has a 1970 Chevelle and Carbone’s showpiece auto is a 1937 Plymouth.

The club members also participate in showing cars in the Memories Car Cruise, planned for downtown New Castle this year on Aug. 25. The free, all-day event stretches throughout the downtown and attracts hundreds of cars and spectators from a widespread area. Stoner, Carbone and barber Phil Sunseri are the organizers of that event.

Carbone anticipates that if the weather is nice, the Rapid Tappets Dust Off could have as many as 300 cars on display.

“It’s all weather-driven,” he said, estimating that about 225 cars attended last year.

“It’s growing each year,” Stoner added. “We try to have things to make it interesting for the whole family.”

In addition to the car shows, the club has an annual picnic in August in conjunction with Pearson Park’s Community Days, and it has a Christmas party and other events. There is a fall cruise at the end of each season, which last year was held in Marienville in Forest County.

The club’s meetings are held at 7 p.m., the third Tuesday of each month at the Hutchison Community Center at Pearson Park in Neshannock Township.

More information about the Dust Off or the car club is available by calling (724) 924-2439, or by visiting the club’s online site at rapidtappets@yahoo.com.


Debbie's been a journalist at the New Castle News since 1978, and covers county government, police and fire, New Castle schools, environment and various other realms. She also writes features, takes photos and video and copy edits.

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