RI gets revved up for Northeast International Auto Show

Joe Lanuez fell into the job of detailing, maintaining, and showing off vintage cars from the Audrain Automobile Museum in Newport when it opened a few years ago. (WJAR)

The Northeast International Auto Show starts Feb. 9 and runs through the weekend at the Rhode Island Convention Center.

But what happens the day before?

Let’s pull up to the bumper, and find out!

It's been said the best job to have is the one where you don't consider it work.

That's definitely the case for Joe Lanuez, who fell into the job of detailing, maintaining, and showing off the vintage cars from the Audrain Automobile Museum in Newport when it opened a few years ago.

“I was working at St. George's, landscaping, cutting all the hedges, but I've always been into cars all my life,” he said, sitting behind the wheel, turning the ignition of a vintage souped-up Plymouth, smiling wide as he turned the key to make the engine growl.

“My sister-in-law told me they were looking for somebody to detail cars. After the interview, an hour later I was working for them,” he said. The cars are my babies,” he added, “I protect them like a mother bear would protect her cubs.”

Now, he gets to not only make sure the Ferarris, Panteras, Lamborghinis, Plymouths, and Camaros, to name a few, look good, but to make sure they are at peak performance too, by winding them out on the roadway.

“The car, once you start it, has to get hot. So, you run through the full cycles,” he said noting the best thing to do is drive them. “They're thoroughbreds. They need to be run.”

To get the cars in from the outside, Louie Barone, with the Rhode Island Convention Center, is in his element, as he navigates the cars being brought in for the show, up to a freight elevator, then around the tight corners, squeezing behemoths around walls with openings designed for table carts. It’s a little bit of a logistical challenge.

But rolling out the 2019 models, and the vintage ones to dream of, hundreds of horsepower at a time, is a pleasure, brought to you by those who love what they do, behind the scenes.

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