Burnout overcomes rain

Competition and car show fill up Ely’s Chapman Street

by Tom Coombe
One of Ely’s most unique events made its return last weekend and Mother Nature wasn’t about to intervene.
The Jake Forsman Memorial Car Show and Burnout Competition went on as planned Saturday next to City Hall, despite a few raindrops.
Cancelled in 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the event resumed this year and attracted big crowds.
“I can tell you there were a lot of people,” said Ely council member Al Forsman, who started and coordinates the event held in his late son’s memory. “Between the morning session and afternoon session I’m sure there were 1,000 people watching between the two events.”
Rainy conditions made for a challenge and may have had an impact in limiting the car show to 74 entrants.
Yet the burnout competition went on, much to the delight of a cheering audience.
Brandon Perushek captured first place in the competition and the Forsman family was well represented at the top, with Dan Forsman finishing in second place and Mike Forsman taking third.
Jake Forsman passed away in 2016, and his father started the event the following year. The two had seen a similar show on a trip to the west and spoke one day of holding one in Ely.
Each year since, save for last year’s Covid cancellation, the area in front of City Hall and the public library is transformed one Saturday every fall.
Giant cement barricades separate the audience from the vehicles in the burnout competition, and Ely residents can hear the squeals of burning rubber from blocks away.
The event creates a buzz downtown with activity and provided economic development on an otherwise slow weekend, and the break in sessions helped spur business.
“I know restaurants in town had long wait lists and beds were hard to find,” said Forsman.
The event relies on many volunteers and it serves as a fundraiser for the Jake Forsman Memorial Scholarship, with money set aside to help students in vocational educations.
“We did announce at the event that we have granted $24,000 in scholarships raised through the event the last five years,” said Forsman. “It just keeps growing and the support of the community is fabulous.”
The event was held the first three years over “MEA” weekend in mid-October and was moved ahead on the calendar in hopes of better weather.
Forsman said “while it was warmer, it was wet, but it was successful, highly successful.”
He thanked volunteers as well as city staff for their efforts in supporting the event.
“I know there’s some inconvenience in holding the event but man it was fun,” he said. “But the rain washed away all of our road art.”
The 2022 event is slated for Saturday, Oct. 1.