Morning Octane supercar show takes over Colorado Street Bridge in Pasadena

Lambo on the bridge

Jaguar E-Type

Ferrari 812

Porsche 911 GT3 Touring

McLaren 570S

The BRidge accepts a variety of supercars

2018 Twin Turbo Lambo Per-FLAME-onte 

Mercedes AMG GT

140 really cool cars came to Rusnak’s Morning Octane gathering on the Colorado Street Bridge in Pasadena, Calif.

140 really cool cars came to Rusnak’s Morning Octane gathering on the Colorado Street Bridge in Pasadena, Calif.

Porsche 356

Ferrari

1964 (?) Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint 1600 GT

McLaren SLR

Six-Four

Porsche 912

Wrapped NSX

Like a bridge over troubled waters

The next generation

Aspirational vehicles galore

Colorado Street Bridge from below

Imagine driving along on the 134 freeway as you enter Pasadena and glancing to your right, where the famous Colorado Street Bridge vaults 150 feet over Arroyo Seco, and seeing 140 supercars parked along its more-than quarter-mile length. Sure, the 107-year-old span is home to the annual “Bridge Party,” where thousands of locals pack its length once a year to celebrate this piece of architectural mastery and civil engineering. But this time, it was all cars, and what cars they were.

The show is called Morning Octane, and it’s put on at various Pasadena locations by SoCal luxury car mega-dealer Rusnak. The car show tradition started in 2013, when Rusnak’s Rolls-Royce, Maserati and Bentley general manager Andrew Arizmendi had the idea of having a cars and coffee event at the Rose Bowl. The dealer group partnered with local Ferrari collector David S.K. Lee and primed the show with some of Lee’s Ferraris and some cars from the Rusnak fleet.

“We thought 20 or 30 (other) cars would show up,” recalled dealer founder Paul Rusnak. “We were surprised when over 50 mostly exotics showed up at 8:00 a.m., along with the police.”

Seems no one had thought to get a permit that first year. The police let them stay, with the agreement that they’d get a permit next time, which they did. Since then, there have been more than 25 Morning Octane gatherings at Santa Anita racetrack, at Lake Street Church and in front of the towering cupola of Pasadena City Hall’s ornate Mediterranean revival building.

The cars are supercar cool, too: Lamborghinis, Ferraris, McLaren SLRs, Mercedes AMG GTs, a Pagani Huayra, Bimmers, muscle cars, a lowrider or two, all cars that you’d stop and watch roll by if you saw them on the street, explaining to your kids or your spouse or whoever happened to be nearby that, hey, that’s a cool car.

“We just look for anything unique,” said Rusnak’s Pierce Twohig. “It has to be a show car. We wouldn’t want anything super stock to be on the bridge. We try not to be mean that way. We sort of curate it but not very specific curation. Exotics, JDM cars, tuner cars, race cars, our brands — we have about 140 of them here today.”

Spillover went to the nearby Elks Lodge parking lot, which you see in some background shots if you watch the Rose Parade on New Year’s Day — that event takes place just a block east of the bridge.

Andrew Arizmendi and Paul Rusnak at the first Morning Octane on the Colorado Street Bridge

Dealership founder Paul Rusnak was on the bridge, too. We missed him that day but caught up with him later. Rusnak grew up in what was then called Czechoslovakia, where his father was a distributor for Praga, and if you don’t know that brand, look it up. Rusnak drove his first car at age 13.

“It was a Citroen,” he said with a smile. “I remember the gearshift on the steering column.”

His first aspirational car was a Jaguar XK120. His family fled the communist takeover of Czechoslovakia in 1948 and came to America. Within a couple years, he was in the Army, and as luck would have it, he was stationed at Ford Ord in Monterey, where he became the first driver to lap the just-finished Laguna Seca.

“It was on Fort Ord, “He said. “I asked my commanding officer if I could take a lap. I had an Austin Healey.”

How was that?

“Oh it was fabulous, are you kidding?”

A couple years after that, he had his first dealership, Jet Imports. After that came dealerships selling Triumph automobiles, Porsche, MG and Jaguar. Are you seeing a trend? He has sold over 32 different car brands. His favorite car?

“The 911,” he said. “It’s unbelievable the longevity that car has enjoyed.”

Same with him. Rusnak just turned 85. How’d he do it all?

“A lot of hard work and a little luck — and the opportunity this country affords you.”

For your next Morning Octane opportunity, keep an eye on rusnakonline.com.

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