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Have dino, will travel

Ceres man repurposes giant metal statues

Have dino, will travel

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POSTED July 9, 2010 10:50 p.m.

What do you do with giant metal dinosaurs after your plans to create a Dinosaurland race track fall flat?
If you're Allen Clark, you take them on the road.
Clark, a lifelong Ceres resident, has three dinosaur sculptures left over from his Crowslanding Road property which he unsuccessfully sought county approval for a Dinosaurland. About 10 years ago, county officials rejected Clark's plans to convert 46 acres of farmland at Crowslanding and Grayson roads into a Nascar racetrack and RV park facility. He sold the property and moved off his five dinosaurs, keeping three of them for a new enterprise. Clark laments the loss of his Dinosaurland dream, saying, "I didn't lose — the kids lost."
Clark plans to use the metal sculptures — crafted from such mechanical parts as a Caterpillar chains, truck oil pans, bolts and truck springs — for roadside advertisement ventures. He hopes to lease out the dinosaurs on trailers to be displayed along the road in front of various businesses, such as car sales lots. He also envisions driving around the large 14-foot dinosaur — mounted to a trailer — with a sign to advertise businesses.
"It's entertaining, it's educational and it's recycled," said Clark. "It's all positive. It's all good."
His largest creation, a half-scale brontosaurus featuring a 35-foot long backbone made of a Caterpillar track chain, had to be reduced in height. He said the California Highway Patrol advised him that the dinosaur had to sit under 14 feet to be transported down the highway.
Clark estimates that the piece — it's been modified five or six times — has consumed about 1,000 hours of his life. Had the work been done at a shop at the going rate of $50 per hour, the piece would have cost him $50,000. Instead he did the work himself as he learned welding as a young boy.
The 1971 Ceres High School graduate comes from a family of tinkerers. Brother Jerry worked on and collected antique gas engines. His father, Jay Clark, was a mechanic who built the world's largest mower which was featured in Popular Mechanics.
"I hope to build enough to do dinosaur shows," said Clark. "It's a lot of work."
He's already had experience showing off the dinosaurs on a mobile basis, including at the downtown Modesto library, the Stanislaus County Fourth of July Parade and at a Modesto A's game.
Clark may be reached at 681-4394.

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