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The fourth annual Big Mike Car Show held at Masonicare in Wallingford on Saturday, May 4 will support the Connecticut Police Academy. Those interested in donating or seeking more information should contact Darrin Magro at firstname.lastname@example.org. (Photo by Nathan Hughart/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
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Retired state trooper Darrin Magro is using his love of cars to honor a fallen friend and help the police by organizing the Big Mike Car Show at Masonicare in Wallingford on Saturday, May 4.
Cars were always central to the lives of Darrin and his friend Mike Young. When Young was struck and killed in an accident in 2015, Darrin decided the best way to honor him was with a car show.
“Mike was a mechanic all his life, so he was a big car guy and, though I was a state trooper I was always into drag racing,” Darrin says. “The car show just seemed like a good fit for us.”
The first Big Mike Car Show was held the year Young died, and helped raise funds for his daughter Amanda’s college tuition. Now that she’s graduated, the show continues, raising money for the Connecticut Police Academy, which Darrin attended and later worked at during the last months of his career.
“They’re really understaffed there,” he say. “The budget is really tight. They’re doing a whole lot with very little. I was looking to help out in any capacity that I can.”
Darrin hopes that the proceeds from the car show will enable the instructors there to purchase resources according to their needs. His time at the academy demonstrated that sometimes small things could make a real difference.
“At the Connecticut State Police [Academy], stress is very high,” Darrin says. “There’s not very many of what we would call ‘stress academies’ out there. Most of them are gone...When I graduated in ‘99, we still lost 20 percent of our class. There’s still a very high washout rate.”
Even though he knew a career as a state trooper would put his drag racing days on hiatus, Darrin made it through the academy because he wanted to help people and the state police was the best way for him to do it.
Darrin says he liked the ability to change barracks and not be stuck in one place. During his 20 years, he served in Westbrook, Bridgeport, and Bethany.
Now that he’s retired, Darrin hopes to get back into racing. The thrill of racing, he says, has to do with the speed.
“The easiest way I can explain it to you is: I think I was born that way. I’ve always had an interest in cars and going fast,” Darrin says. “Growing up, I always had the fastest skateboard and I always had the fastest bicycle...The skateboard evolved to the bicycle and the BMX bicycle evolved to my first Pontiac GTO.”
Some of the kinds of vehicles Darrin might see on the race track could show up at the Big Mike Car Show.
“Predominantly we get a lot of American muscle cars and hot rods, though it is open to any vehicle,” Darrin says. “We’re also trying to get some motorcycles this year.”
Participants in the car show will have a chance to win prizes in 12 classes, most of them “best of” categories for the different makes, like Pontiac and Chevrolet. There also is a category for antique police cruisers, though Darrin says he can’t be sure if there’ll have any contenders in that class.
Darrin says the judging at the Big Mike Car Show is more laid back than most other car shows. One of his friends, another car guy, will go around and make the selections.
“The time and effort is meant to go toward giving the guys a really good show,” Darrin says.
To that effect, the Big Mike Car Show will feature more than just the vehicles. The Boys of Doo Wop will DJ the event and raffles will be held throughout the day with food available as well. The Ted’s Steamed Burger truck will attend for the first time this year. The U.S. Marine Corps will also have a recruitment booth at the event.
“A lot of Marines are car guys, so it’s a good fit,” Darrin says.
Sometimes, even the food is on theme. Last year, Darrin says, a vintage Good Humor truck came by to sell ice cream to the kids.
The car show, hosted at the Masonicare in Wallingford, will last from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, May 4 with a rain date on the following day. It will cost $10 to enter a vehicle in the show and $5 for spectators. All proceeds will go to supporting the Connecticut State Police Training Academy.
Because car shows are so weather dependent, Darrin isn’t sure how much money they’ll raise for the academy. On its best year, the show earned around $7,000.
“If it’s a chance of being cloudy, the car count can be cut in half,” Darrin says. “By the time the show starts, everything is paid for…The day of the show is what dictates how much money we’re going to be able to donate.”
The Big Mike Car Show will take place at Masonicare, 22 Masonicare Avenue, Wallingford on Saturday, May 4 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., with a raindate of Sunday, May 5. Those interested in donating or seeking more information should contact Darrin Magro at email@example.com.
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