The Jack Byrne Arena in Torbay wasn’t quite prepared for the overwhelming turnout for the Nick Coates Memorial Car Show Sunday. Two of the show’s organizers, Jeremy Power and Corey Prosser, were also a little overwhelmed by the tremendous turnout.
Cars, trucks and motorcycles competed for parking spaces all day Sunday outside the arena. A lack of parking forced some people to get creative, wedging their rides into some awkward places in an attempt to see some of the many motor vehicles in the arena parking lot.
For many people, the first annual car show wasn’t just about the cool cars and rad bikes. It was about supporting a worthy cause and showing love for a family affected by a tragedy.
Nick Coates, 27, of Conception Bay South was killed by an allegedly drunk driver Aug. 16 while riding his motorcycle on Kenmount Road in St. John’s. Coates was part of the Edition 709 car club and was known for his passion underneath the hood.
The Edition 709 car club formed more than 2 1/2 years ago, with Coates being one of the original seven members. Show organizers Prosser and Power are also members of the club.
“We started with seven of us,” Prosser said. “It wasn’t a car group. It was just a bunch of guys hanging out, modifying and tuning cars. Two-and-a-half years ago we decided that we might as well make it public and make a car group to have shows and to get more people involved. We made Edition 709 and it’s been growing ever since.
“We wanted to do a car show before, but we kept putting it off. But now, this tragedy happened, and it feels right to do this in memory of Nick and to bring awareness to the cause,” Prosser said.
“As soon as we put the word up that there was going to be a car show, people started coming up saying they wanted to help out or that they had stuff to donate. We didn’t even have a poster ready. Everyone just wanted to be part of the show.”
Car enthusiasts and car groups from all over the city have shown their support and it seems like this show would certainly flourish as a yearly event.
“We have our own group here, Edition 709, as well as Newfound Imports. East Coast Crew is a newer group and they’ve been really helping us out today. Car Tunes, which has been a group for years, are also here. The owner of Car Tunes went to school with Nick, so he wanted to help out. NL Jeeps are here and the 4x4s,” Prosser continued, pointing to different areas of the parking lot to indicate the many groups involved.
“The Dub Show is here, too. I help out with the Dub Show every year. The Volkswagen crew came over to help out and the antiques are all here as well. I’m not sure what group they’re here with, but they found out about this event through word of mouth and were willing to give us some support.
“Vinland Motorsports is one of the major groups involved. They actually gave us this parking lot, because they rent it out for every autocross event,” Prosser said. “There was racing here this morning and they agreed to give us the whole parking lot for the car show this afternoon.
“Once we got down here, everything started coming together. As soon as the races ended, everything was set in motion. We moved all the pylons back. We had cars coming in everywhere. It was very hectic, but it all came together,” Prosser said, looking around the parking lot with a huge grin on his face.
Both Prosser and Power were more than willing to strike a few poses for the camera to show off their newest tattoos in memory of their friend.
Ken Power of Ken Power Tattoo Co. in C.B.S. was also at the car show. Power has now inked more than 30 memorial tattoos on Coates’ friends. The simple yet deeply meaningful tattoo is a series of lines that form the words “Nick C” and the shape of a motorcycle, one of Coates’ passions.
“One lady was scared shitless and I thought she was going to cry, but she got through it. If she cried, I would have cried,” Power said with a laugh.
“At one point there were 20 people in the shop. It was a lot of fun and it was a good distraction for them, too.”
Power has his own personal memorial tattoo for a friend he lost to a drunk driver in 1997. All of the Nick C memorial tattoos were done free of charge.
Terri-lee Coates, Nick’s 22-year-old sister, was the first person to get the tattoo. Like the show organizers, she was surprised by the impressive turnout. Sporting a shirt emblazoned with the same design as her tattoo, Coates was floating around the car show with her five-month-old baby girl.
“He wouldn’t be able to fathom all of the people here who are supporting this — ever,” the happy sister said with a big smile.
“People are going around with the shirts and the magnets and stickers. There’s nothing left.”
The black shirts with the orange and white design were easy to spot, even in such a large, dense crowd.
“We’re going to have to look for a bigger lot next year,” Jeremy Power said with a laugh while looking around the stuffed parking lot.
Prosser added, “This is going to be an annual event for as long as we can do it or for as long as someone can take it over.
“I’d like to put it out there now that we’ll be looking for a larger venue for next year, if anyone would like to come on board as a contributor to our cause. It would be greatly appreciated and it would save us some work,” said Kevin Corbett, vice-president of Vinland Motorsports.
“It would be great to find a new venue, but right now, we’re just focusing on today’s show. There are over 300 cars here right now, not including bikes and jeeps.”
When asked what Nick Coates would think of the event, Prosser didn’t hesitate to say, “He would be ecstatic.
“He would probably be telling us that we need to have more room,” Prosser said with a laugh.
By 5 p.m. on Sunday, the Nick Coates Memorial Car Show had raised more than $17,000 for Mothers Against Drunk Driving. The total was expected to rise as the night continued.