There’s good reason for Dayle Niemie to be excited about the upcoming MDA Benefit Car Show.
That’s because the 61-year-old Brookings resident has suffered from muscular dystrophy for more than 20 years and proceeds of the show benefit the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
Niemie’s affliction affects the muscles of his face, shoulders and legs. But it hasn’t prevented him from continuing to work and to enjoy his passion for reconditioning classic cars.
His latest labor of love is a 1970 Plymouth Roadrunner with a 440 cubic-inch engine and a tunnel ram for added power.
“I learned to drive in the ’60s in the muscle car era,” Niemie said. “I’ve been into cars all my life.
“I crawled under cars since I was 2 years old helping my dad. I took my driver’s test at 16 with a ’57 Chrysler New Yorker with a Hemi.”
He said what started as a hobby turned into a career. He has owned Niemie Auto Repair at 295 King St. in Brookings since 1978, which he operates with wife Glenna, who doubles as secretary and mechanic.
“She’s worked with me every step of the way,” Niemie said.
This will be the Curry County Cruisers’ 13th annual benefit car show. It will be Saturday, Sept. 3, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Lucky 7 Casino three miles south of the Oregon-California border.
Niemie said they’ve had entrants from Seattle to the San Francisco Bay area in the past, and are hoping for 100 cars to take part this year.
His interest in cars came naturally because his father was a mechanic. Niemie studied automotive technology at Oregon Technical Institute in Klamath Falls.
He drove a brand new Plymouth Roadrunner as a college student. Other cars Niemie has owned and worked on include a 1969 Chevelle SS 396, a 1964 Buick Vista Cruiser, a 1960 Studebaker, and 1951 and 1955 International pickup trucks.
As far as restoring and improving cars, Niemie said, “They’re never done.”
His next plan for the Roadrunner calls for installing a new muffler and a traction bar in back.
These days he’s become a teacher, showing teenagers and others how to work on their automobiles. He gets as much satisfaction out of that as improving his own cars.
“I’m past the stage of worrying about how rich I’ll be,” Niemie said. “I’m just happy to be alive.
“It makes me feel good inside that I can still do this.”