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The 30th annual Medford Cruise is 'fast and furious'

The 2015 Medford Cruise promises a few new thrills and twists this year.

The fun begins Saturday and Sunday, June 13-14, with the third annual Bash to the Future Drift event at the Kart Track at Jackson County Sports Park.

A mix of amateur and professional speed demons from around the country will participate in the drift event, a style of racing that uses throttle, brake, gears and steering to keep vehicles in a state of skid turns, or drift turns, from one direction to another. The sport emerged from the "The Fast and the Furious" film franchise.

"This is the next generation of racing," says Greg Unger, one of Medford Cruise's organizers. "The grassroots event started three years ago with a small group of local drivers. It grew to 78 drivers last year because of its presence on social media. This year we anticipate about 125 drivers. It's one of the biggest on the West Coast."

Rogue Valley resident and driver Benny Shapiro participates each year in Medford Cruise's drift races. He drives a Nissan240SX customized with a Ford Mustang V8 engine.

"The car is fast and it's loud," Shapiro says. "Spectators love it. Everyone wants to ride. I love cars. I drag race. I drift. Anything to do with cars, I'll do it. Drifting is like being out of control while staying in control. It's an adrenaline rush."

Drift teams can be found around the globe. Shapiro's team is called Epic Wayz, and its drivers compete at Champion Raceway and other events. They're members of Southern Oregon Lions, and the money they raise goes to the nonprofit organization.

The drift is from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the sports park, 6900 Kershaw Road, off Highway 140, Eagle Point. Admission costs $10, $20 for a Pit Pass that includes rides in the drift cars.

Following the drift, Medford Cruise will showcase all years, makes and models of cars at five Show 'n' Shines. Look for Chevys Tuesday, June 16, at Lava Lanes, 2980 Crater Lake Highway; sports cars and hot rods Wednesday, June 17, at Carrera Medford, 1492 Burlcrest Drive; Fords Thursday, June 18, at The Original Roadhouse Grill, 2699 W. Main St.; and Dodges Friday, June 19, at Fichtner-Mainwaring Park, 334 Holmes Ave. Show 'n' Shine hours are 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Admission is free.

Also June 19, a poker run will start at 9 a.m. at Punky's Diner in the Medford Center; the Stoplight Drags for 1979 and older vehicles will start at 5 p.m. at Champion Raceway in the Jackson County Sports Park; and a free concert with Sound Stage Review, Funktional Fusion and The Rogue Suspects starts at 6:30 p.m. at Fichtner-Mainwaring Park.

Medford Cruise culminates Saturday, June 20, with its traditional Show 'n' Shine for '79 and older vehicles — along with '80 and newer vehicles — from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Fichtner-Mainwaring Park. Registration for older vehicles includes entry to the Show 'n' Shine and to the Downtown Cruise, to be held from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. See www.medfordcruise.org for information and registration.

The downtown cruise is the heart of the Medford Cruise, started 30 years ago as a fundraiser for various nonprofits in Southern Oregon. 

It gives visitors a few hours to go back in time and see nostalgic, classic cars drive through Medford's city streets. Top it with a drive-in style look at "American Graffiti" at dusk in Fichtner-Mainwaring Park. Admission is free, and there will be vendors and concessions.

Driver Benny Shapiro competes each year at the Bash to the Future Drift event held at Jackson County Sports Park. Mail Tribune / Jamie Lusch