The Original Scene
The Re-Creation Scene
Our Cop Car
Where You Can See The Cop Car

Part I Part II

The Re-Creation of the Cop Car Destruction Scene - Part III
A Tribute to Henry Travers and Manuel Padilla, Jr.

By now, the crescendo was starting to swell! We were just one hour away from blast off. The warm morning air had everyone alive with conversation as the final scenes were being filmed. First the Merc speeding by the front of Jerry’s Cherries, followed by our American Graffiti Cop Car peeling out to chase it. It had been a perfect night…..what could go wrong? But something did!

It was time to get ready for the cop car destruction scene, so all of the classic cars parked in the lot were removed. One by one they drove quietly out until the lot was empty, except for the house trailer, which when finally moved, left Jerry’s Cherries looking starkly naked and reminded me of a no-man’s land…kind of eerie! It would have been great to have everything remain as it was, but we just weren’t willing to take the chance of that cable snapping and damaging someone’s car.

Then, in lumbered the big tow truck….the kind they pull diesel tractors behind, so it was a whopper.
The driver was directed to park it at the rear of the lot, near the brick wall. When they filmed the original scene, despite the fact that all of the wheels were blocked, the force of the car speeding away moved the truck about a foot! Next, the movie cop car was unloaded from the back of the flatbed and the tow truck’s cable was attached to a hefty chain that was wrapped around the rear axle of the car. All the while, cameras were being setup, positioned and checked.

Finally it was time for action. Art was ready to climb into the car when he was asked about his helmet. He didn’t have one. They didn’t wear one in the movie. Well, we decided Art needed a helmet so we borrowed one from one of the Petaluma Motorcycle Officers. There were a number of cops who showed up just to watch this scene, so they were happy to oblige. The production crew fitted Art with a communications headset and microphone and he strapped himself into the safety harness. A final check was made to make sure that the lot was clear of people and that no one was near the path that the car would be taking.

“Quiet on the set”, shouted director Bies. The next thing we heard was the sound of the cop car starting up. Guests were not allowed to have cameras, but there were many others who did, so we jockeyed for good positions from which to shoot. I was near the director, so I could easily hear him talking to Art in the car. Ready! Action! The car jumped to life and roared out of the lot, but when it got to the curb where the slack in the cable ended and the axle was supposed to be torn away, there was a huge shower of sparks as the cable snapped and whipped back over the top of the tow truck and over the brick wall behind it! The car rolled into the street where Art slammed on the brakes and brought it to a quick stop. What happened?

Well, the cable didn’t break. It turned out that the hasps securing the loop weren’t tight enough, which caused the cable to slip out of their grasp. I have to tell you that it looked like the 4th of July with all of those sparks flying, but the axle was still attached to the car. So now what? Take two, of course, just like in the real movies!

The car was backed into its position in the lot and after about 20 minutes of re-working and attaching the cable to the axle, everything was set for a second try. When someone made the comment that we should shorten the cable and Jerry piped in, “I think we just did”, everyone in the crew laughed! By now it was almost 5am, our scheduled time to re-open the Boulevard, so this had to work. We might not get a ‘third time’s the charm’. Suddenly, our security guy behind the brick wall yelled out that there were a couple of drunks who showed up. Promptly, two of Petaluma’s finest ran to the back and removed them from the area. Everyone got a chuckle out of that. With the coast finally clear, we were ready for try number two.

The car starts up and Don gives the go for action. Here it comes! We’re all holding our breath. Is it going to happen?? BANG – THUD!!…. the rear of the car jumps into the air, the axle is ripped from beneath the body and catapulted back into the empty lot, and the back end of the car slams to the pavement…just like in the movie. We did it! Everyone started cheering and applauding and began running up to see both the car and axle. Wow….The force was so strong that it bent that axle almost into the shape of a V. The filming crew still needed to get the shot of the axle sitting there by itself in the lot, so we had to ask everyone to move away for a bit until they were finished. Then we all took a few minutes to talk and take photos as we recounted what we had just witnessed and relished this moment for which so many hundreds of hours were invested to produce.

Suddenly, almost as if on cue to signal the end of the action and as a reminder that we needed to clear the street and get it open again, the gentle breeze that had started about 4:45am turned into a very brisk wind that began gusting up to what I would guess was at least 40mph at times. The darkness was beginning to turn to twilight as the dawn announced the beginning of a new day. And we were tired….but feeling victorious and very, very happy.

On a personal note, I think back and remember all of the naysayers telling us things like ‘your insurance company will never let you do this’, which was followed by months of waiting to finally get their approval. There were the countless hours of preparing maps, taking photos and measurements, getting our permits, meeting with the police and fire departments, finding costumes and so much more, yet for some odd reason, I always felt that we were going to make this happen. It’s October now, five months after the destruction and my only excuse for not writing this story sooner is that I just didn’t feel ready to do so. For us, the producers, Salute 2008 lasted an easy two weeks. I didn’t get more than fours sleep a night and between Wednesday and Sunday, I totaled maybe ten hours.

Despite our successes, for the next couple of months we were all too pooped to pop, yet in retrospect, recounting that Wednesday and Thursday as I have done here was truly a pleasure and gave me the opportunity to relive it all over again. It was worth every minute! I hope you enjoyed the reading! Rich Poremba




A Cruisin’ The Boulevard, Inc. Production
Filmed on May 15, 2008, Petaluma, California

Curt: Ryan Villa
Officer Holstein: Jerry Causbrook
Cop #2: Ron Kilgore
Stunt Cop: Art Mossi

Re-creation Director and Editor
Don Bies

Camera Operators
Erik Jensen
Ryan McDuffie

Assistant Director
Jeffrey Weissman

Bill Maley

Consulting by Original American Graffiti Production Staff
Haskell Wexler
Ned Kopp
Ron Eveslage
Bill Maley

Classic Vehicles/Owners
1961 Ford Galaxie Cop Car – Cruisin’ The Boulevard, Inc.
1961 Ford Fairlane Stunt Cop Car – Cruisin’ The Boulevard, Inc.
1962 Ford Falcon – Tori Foresti
1956 Chevrolet – Ron and Cynthia Simmons
1954 Chevrolet – Ken Zabkar
1953 Pontiac – Alvin Cooper
1951 Plymouth – Don Phelps
1951 Mercury – Glenn Shimmin
1950 Mercury – Charlie Hardin
1941 Ford Pickup (also in original film) – Jim Bergstrom
1940 Ford – Jeff Sutton

House Trailer provided by
Jerry Causbrook

Tow Truck provided by
Andreoli Towing: Both for this scene and the original scene in 1972


Set Design & Construction
Al Villa Builder
Fowler Electric
North Bay Construction
Pacific Coast Truss
Stewart Warren Services
Redwood Sign Company
Rich Poremba

Susan Villa

1961 Ford Galaxie Cop Car Creation Team
Cruisin’ The Boulevard Board of Directors
John Furrer
Figone’s Truck & Auto Painting
Freeman Toyota Collision Center
McLea’s Tire & Automotive Service
Theatre District Merchants/Basin Street Properties
Tuinstra’s Auto Glass & Upholstery
Drive-Line Service of Santa Rosa
Petaluma Mufflerworks
Transman Transmissions
Barber Sign Co.
B & M Siren

1961 Ford Fairlane Stunt Cop Car Creation Team
All About Classics
Miracle Auto Painting & Body Repair
Gerdes Auto Wreckers
Curtis Auto Recycling
Interstate Batteries
D & S Auto Service
Art Mossi Service
Tuinstra’s Auto Glass & Upholstery

Cameras provided by
Magnetic Image Video

Production Services by
Fair Street Films LLC

Petaluma’s Salute to American Graffiti 2008
Presenting Partner


Petaluma’s Salute to American Graffiti
Founding Partner 2006 - 2008

Gulick’s Body Shop

Interviews by
Ron Walters

Axum Studios
City of Petaluma
Clover-Stornetta Farms
Cruisin' The Boulevard Volunteers
DeCarli Family
Mayor Pamela Torliatt & Petaluma City Council
Adobe Electric, Mike Simmons
Petaluma Downtown Association
Petaluma Museum Association
Petaluma Police Department
Renesis Development
Rivertown Feed & Pet Country Store
Tom Furrer

Photos by Rhonda Van Patten, Ron Simmons, Rich Poremba