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Auburn Cruise Nite rolls out, remembers founder

By: Andrew DiLuccia, Journal Motoring Editor
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A man’s legacy will be on display Friday night as the fourth show of the Auburn Cruise Nite season revs up on Lincoln Way in Downtown Auburn. Next to the downtown clock tower from 5 to 9 p.m. — along with 300-plus classic cars and trucks — will be a display honoring Tom Potts, the father of Auburn Cruise Nite. Potts, who died after a long illness in June at the age of 54, first started Auburn Cruise Nite at Fosters Freeze in Auburn in 1984 with just a handful of volunteers and roughly 20 classic vehicles. Since then, the show has moved to Downtown Auburn and now plays host to more than 300 vehicles, pre-1972, and welcomes some 2,000 to 3,000 spectators on the second Friday of the month from May to September. “He’s the guy that started the whole thing,” said Dick Kiger, co-chairman of the Auburn Cruise Nite Committee. “He was the man that started it and ran it for several years with success — they had some great turnouts early on. He deserves a lot of credit.” Along with organizing Auburn Cruise Nite, Potts also owned and ran Auburn Auto Interiors, and donated his time to community projects, including restoring vehicles for the Native Sons of the Golden West. “I think he was one of those people that people in town may not know, but I think his legacy and what he did for the history of the Auburn area will live on for a long time,” said Dave Allen of the Native Sons of the Golden West. “He’s a real selfless individual. He was always giving to us. I only knew Tom for 13, 14 years, but everybody I’ve talked to who’s known him for 30 years have all said the same thing — he’s just a good quality individual.” As part of Potts’ remembrance Friday, members of the Native Sons of the Golden West will display two vehicles Potts worked on. They include a 1928 Dodge Paddy Wagon and a 1919 Ford Model T truck. Other pieces of memorabilia will be on display, including a guestbook and photos. “I got a couple nice little pictures for people to remember Tom,” Allen said. “It’ll just be a chance for somebody to write something about Tom — he did a lot for all of us.” Reach Andrew DiLuccia at andrewd@goldcountrymedia.com. __________ Cruise into Downtown What: 27th season of Auburn Cruise Nite When: 5 to 9 p.m., Friday, August 12 Where: Lincoln Way, Downtown Auburn Cost: Free More 2011 show dates: Sept. 9