Grosse Pointe Woods resident Daniel Attalla will show his 1970 Plymouth Road Runner at Autorama March 1-3 at Cobo Center in Detroit.

Grosse Pointe Woods resident Daniel Attalla will show his 1970 Plymouth Road Runner at Autorama March 1-3 at Cobo Center in Detroit.

Photo by Sean Work


Autorama puts car buffs in the driver’s seat

‘Slap Shot’ Hanson Brothers skate in for festivities

By: Maria Allard | Grosse Pointe Times | Published February 20, 2019

 The Hanson Brothers, from the 1977 movie “Slap Shot,” will appear at this year’s Autorama from 1 to 4 p.m. March 3 at Cobo Center in Detroit.

The Hanson Brothers, from the 1977 movie “Slap Shot,” will appear at this year’s Autorama from 1 to 4 p.m. March 3 at Cobo Center in Detroit.

Photo provided by Detroit Autorama

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GROSSE POINTE WOODS/DETROIT — When Daniel Attalla came upon a 1970 Plymouth Road Runner three years ago, he “had to have it.”

Attalla, 43, a car enthusiast who purchases and sells cars as a hobby, eventually added it to his collection.

“The Road Runner was a bucket list car for me. I wanted it as a kid,” the Grosse Pointe Woods resident said. “I purchased it from a gentleman down South who pulled it out of a barn. It had been sitting for 35 years and he restored it.”

Decked out in a B5 blue paint color, white interior and white vinyl top, Attalla’s Road Runner will “beep beep” its way to Cobo Center March 1-3 for the 67th annual Meguiar’s Detroit Autorama.

Presented by O’Reilly Auto Parts, Autorama will showcase about 800 souped-up, custom-built hot rod and muscle cars from noon to 10 p.m. March 1; 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. March 2; and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. March 3.

Attalla’s Road Runner comes with a V-Code 440 six-barrel engine and a 727 TorqueFlite transmission. It’s decorated with several details, including stuffed animals of the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote characters from the Looney Tunes series.

Attalla occasionally takes the automobile for a spin in nice weather and has been to the Woodward Dream Cruise in Oakland County, the Shorewood Kiwanis Harper Charity Cruise in St. Clair Shores, and Cruisin’ Gratiot in Eastpointe. The vehicle is always a conversation piece with onlookers.

“They love the color,” Attalla said. “They tell me they’ve never seen a Road Runner up close.”

At Autorama, Attalla will exhibit the Road Runner with members of the Twisted Axle Car Club. Comprising local car enthusiasts, the club members meet up periodically to talk about their prized possessions.

“It’s to keep the hobby going. We want everyone to appreciate the cars,” Attalla said. “I just love the feel of a vintage muscle car. It’s nothing like the cars of today. You can’t duplicate it. That’s what’s so special about them. I’ve come across some pretty rare ones … meaning low production with desirable color combinations and desirable engines.”

Events throughout the weekend will include the Ridler’s Ball during the evening hours of March 1, Gene Winfield’s “Chop Shop” demonstrations sponsored by Summit Racing Equipment, and the Miss Autorama Retro Pinup Girl contest — presented by Vinsetta Garage — at 5 p.m. March 2.

Autorama highlights will include a meet-and-greet with WWE Superstar Seth Rollins from 6 to 8 p.m. March 1; a chance to meet  NASCAR Legend Tony Stewart from noon to 2 p.m. March 2; and an appearance from 4 to 8 p.m. March 2 with Dave Kindig from Kindig It Designs.


‘Hail to the Chiefs’
Also cruising into Autorama are the Hanson Brothers from the movie “Slap Shot.” The horn-rimmed-glasses-clad trio — Jeff Carlson, Steve Carlson and David Hanson — will meet with fans from 1 to 4 p.m. March 3.

“Slap Shot,” a 1977 sports comedy film starring Paul Newman, tells the story of minor league hockey team the Charlestown Chiefs that grows in popularity when it starts fights on the ice.

The Hanson Brothers were characters based on real-life brothers Steve, Jeff and Jack Carlson. While Steve and Jeff were in the film, Jack wasn’t able to be in the movie because the Edmonton Oilers called him up for the World Hockey Association playoffs. Therefore, David Hanson took the role of Jack Hanson, and Steve Carlson and Jeff Carlson portrayed Steve and Jeff Hanson, respectively.

While the movie — written by Nancy Dowd — reportedly was a modest hit upon its release, it has become a cult classic, especially for hockey fanatics. The Grosse Pointe Times spoke with Steve Carlson by telephone last week. The Pennsylvania resident said “Slap Shot” was modeled after Dowd’s brother, Ned, who played minor league hockey.

Carlson, 63, said that when the movie was cast, executives were concerned about hiring the Carlsons and Hanson because they weren’t actors. But professional hockey players were needed for the movie, so they came in for readings and were hired. The three were told to be themselves in the film.

“That’s what we did,” said Carlson, who still has a copy of the original script. “We might be goofballs and absent-minded, but we were fun-loving guys. We had a great cast. We played off each other. There were no problems at all.”

Carlson has fond memories of Newman, who did most of his own skating in the movie.

“He was very professional. He was a down-to-earth man,” Carlson said. “He was a great actor, he was a great humanitarian, he was a great athlete.”

There were times on set when Newman gave acting advice to the others. He also went to the Carlsons and Hanson for hockey tips. Carlson said Newman often did around 25 takes per scene. When it came to each fighting segment, Carlson said those were done in five, six or seven takes. Because the Carlsons and Hanson were hockey players by trade, they were in “top shape” during filming and could handle those rough scenes.  

When “Slap Shot” was released, Carlson found it difficult to watch himself on the big screen. Because of the storyline, the three players were on thin ice with the National Hockey League.

“We got a bad rap from the NHL,” Carlson recalled. “The NHL thought it was making fun of it. They thought we were promoting fighting.”

But Carlson said they were promoting the sport.

“That’s the game,” he said. “If someone has the puck, they should be hit. It’s a contact sport. If a fight breaks out, that’s how the game used to be played.”

Hanson and the Carlsons routinely make guest appearances throughout the U.S. They also have traveled to England, Germany and Canada to meet fans of all ages. When talking with “Slap Shot” viewers, Carlson said, they “all have their favorite scenes.” Two that stick out are the moment in which Carlson’s character retrieves his quarter from the vending machine. Another is when he shouts to the referee during “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

The Hanson Brothers — also seen in “Slap Shot 2: Breaking the Ice,” and “Slap Shot 3: The Junior League” — look forward to Autorama.

“It’s going to be fun,” Carlson said. “We love Detroit. It’s Hockeytown.”

Admission to Autorama at the gate costs $21 for adults, $8 for children ages 6 to 12, and is free for children younger than 5. Discount tickets are available at O’Reilly Auto Parts for $19 for general admission and $7 for children 6 to 12.

Cobo Center is located at 1 Washington Blvd. in Detroit. For further information on the event, visit autorama.com.

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