Summer Showdown for Make-A-Wish draws young crowd, newer cars

Published on Sunday, 3 July 2022 14:33
Written by Erica Drzewiecki


NEW BRITAIN – The day was hot, but the cars and the cause were both cool.

The Second Annual Summer Showdown brought over 1000 show cars to New Britain Stadium Sunday. A collaboration between the CT Street Warriors (CTSW) and the Northeastern Auto Expo, the event served as a fundraiser for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of CT.

“This is a chance for people to come out and show us what they got,” co-organizer Josephine Suarez said. “We were able to collect donations from businesses and all proceeds are going to Make-A-Wish.”

As owner of the Northeastern Auto Expo, she planned the event alongside Ralphie Roldos, founder of CTSW.

The inaugural show in 2021 drew about 350 cars and was held on a rainy day. This year’s event was delayed from Saturday to Sunday in anticipation of bad weather.

“Anything that has wheels,” Suarez said of the types of vehicles welcomed on-site.

Lots of car shows attract owners of classic and antique models, often playing oldies music and generating an energy reminiscent of soda shops and poodle skirts. This one, on the other hand, was much different.

The Summer Showdown drew in a generally younger crowd, driving Volkswagen Golf GTIs, Honda Civics and various other hot rods, street racers, hatchbacks and tinted windows galore.

Instead of “souped-up” these cars were “tricked-out.”

“We have a very good turnout,” CTSW member Andrew Mahaffy pointed out. “Last year it was at a different location.”

Lots of CT-based car clubs came out for the show, setting up canopies in the stadium parking lot. A few included CT Modified and Low ‘n’ Loud.

Newer hip-hop music and club beats could be heard from all around, along with the sound of high horsepower engines and modified exhausts.

Suarez’ daughter Julianna Vazquez-Suarez helped her mother sell t-shirts and other merchandise from behind the main booth at the entrance into the stadium.

The inspiration for the Make-A-Wish fundraiser, Julianna, 20, suffers from Sturge-Weber syndrome, a rare vascular disorder that can cause seizures and brain issues.

“She had her wish fulfilled in 2017,” her mom explained. “She got to go to Disney World. Her being able to have that trip when she was in her prime and being able to enjoy it with her family meant everything. It was awesome.”

Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at

Posted in New Britain Herald, General News, New Britain on Sunday, 3 July 2022 14:33. Updated: Sunday, 3 July 2022 14:35.