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Hotrods for fun and profit

BRADENTON — Rockabilly music was blaring from bands on two stages. Hot rods lined a block of Seventh Avenue West and the hot August sun had many people sweating.

It was the seventh annual Heatstroke Hotrod Hoedown in central Bradenton all day Saturday and playing into the night with motors revving.

Paxton Richards, also known as P-Man, owner of P-Man’s Classic Cycle Paint, 721 Seventh Ave. W., has hosted the event from his business for the past seven years.

“I can’t not,” he said sitting in his office as a band played above him with music blasting, and a small crown gathered just outside his office door Saturday afternoon. “Every year, I say this is the last year. It gets to be expected though. In March, I have bands calling asking to play.”

The event started as a way to promote his business, custom painting for motorcycles.

Richards gives out P-Man’s choice award, a painted bowling pin awarded to the motorcycle with the best paint job at the event. This year the award went to a uniquely designed, rigid-frame Harley Davidson Sportster, according to event workers.

What makes a good paint job?

“Flat black,” said Richards. “That’s probably bad for business for me to say that, but that’s our motto. Paint it black and ride it.”

The crowd — an estimated 500 people came throughout the day — had its share of bikers, hot rodders and rockabilly music fans.

“We’ve never had a problem with any of the different crowds,” said Richards, whose band, The Downshifters, also regularly plays at the event.

Aubrey Savage, who was one of several vendors, catered to rockabilly, pinup-girl style fashions. She owns the Flying Pig Boutique, 1920 First Ave. S., St. Petersburg.

Even with two oscillating fans running, her face glistened under a tent filled with revived retro dresses, skirts and clutch purses.

“I feel like I’m melting even with the fans. I come to events to meet new people. You never know who you are going to meet,” she said. “Business, music, hanging out with friends and the hot rods.”

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