How to participate in, and enjoy a car show.
You never thought the day would come when your car is out of the garage and moving under itís own power. Now your family and friends are no longer thinking you were delusional for trying to make Ďthat thingí into something respectable. Itís car show season and everybody wants to go. What to do?
This is an informal guide to attending car shows on a local and regional level. It is my intention to help you have the best time with the least amount of fuss. I spent many years as a ďme tooĒ car guy, walking the rows of glistening dreams and gazing over the field of lucky dogs with nice wheels. A show field on a summer day is like looking at a box of smarties spilled across a desk, your eye darting to each color, wanting to grab them all. Here is how to enjoy being one of the smarties.
Items to take:
- Sunscreen, and an old towel to tidy up after applying. I hate sticky hands.
- Take some drinking water with you. We always have a couple of plastic bottles in the freezer that gradually thaw during the day and the timing is just about right.
- Bring a bag of cleaning supplies for touching up the car after you are parked.
- Have enough chairs and hats for everyone.
- A small plastic garbage bag can save a lot of trips to find a trash can.
- Sunglasses, watch, camera, notepad and pen.
- A quicky tool kit consisting of: crescent, screwdrivers, pliers for any little last minute fix.
- Magazine or puzzle books are easy to pack. Something to keep the little ones occupied as the novelty of walking around looking at cars wears off in proportion to age. (Note, this applies to the not so little ones as well.)
I highly suggest creating a grab and go kit. Iím sure if you look around your home you will inevitably find at least one old purse or small travel bag thatís not in use.
Pick up one of all the following items and you will be set to leave in a momentís notice.
- A small tube of sunscreen, a couple of packaged moist towelletes.
- After-bite, antacid, aspirin or whatever works for pain/headaches.
- A pair of collapsible tooth brushes, tooth paste and some floss.
- Chap stick, shampoo, Qtips, comb, eye drops, deodorant, razor
- Small first aid kit
- Note pad and pen, flashlight, Kleenex, and lighter
- Ear plugs
- Team Chevelle business cards
- Extra money in small bills
Iím going to assume that the event is more than just a quick trip downtown to the local auto-stores parking lot.
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Make sure the show is on when you think it is! A quick phone call or confirmation via the web is worthwhile instead of driving 4 hours for a beerÖ. right Bob Cull? If they have a website then there are usually directions and a schedule which you can print out. At this time verify that the show is something you want to attend, some venues operate on the premise of being an open show but are Ďsound-offí stereo competitions or it could be a great Studebaker event with one Chevelle (yours). I once drove several hours in my just completed project only to be turned away at the gate as I wasnít pre-registered for what was billed as an open event.
OK, the event sounds like fun, the weather forecast is fine so letís give the car a quick look over. You Ďhave driven ití recently, right? If not, you should set aside time for a road check. The last event saw me changing a blown muffler hours before leaving. We had let the car sit for a long time before starting it up and were not aware of the muffler and of course, there was not a replacement available for two days. Heating problems have also ruined the day of many a low buck and high dollar restoration so make sure that your mechanical parts are all working. Shows are notorious for slow moving line ups and itís not fun to be cleaning up mouse or rat barf after you turn off the key.
I usually throw in a handful of common tools; a container of 50/50 mixed coolant, a quart of oil, timing light and dwell/volt meter ( I still run stock points). Check the tire pressure and clean the car, especially those places that are hard to reach as you donít want to be sprawled out on the ground at the car show in your finest TC shirt trying to clean the lower A-arms. If you will be driving a long distance, make sure the exposed front of the car has another quick coat of wax. This will make bug removal much easier at your destination.
Plan to arrive early to avoid the inevitable delays from traffic, rest stops, losing your directions and maniacs who drive faster than you, or idiots who go slower. Larger events usually have a sponsoring radio station like Oldies 101 or similar. If they do, find the frequency and listen to it for updates. The feeling of anticipation as they hype things up is pretty cool too.
Itís helpful to do an address lookup for a car wash in the area so you do not waste time driving side streets looking for one.
The car washes I always seem to find first are the automatic versions (just keep going) although Iíve gotten better at sniffing out the real ones, usually near the industrial areas or down the street from the fast food places. I actually enjoy this part as it gives me the feeling of a fresh start, especially after sitting in the car for a few hours. An added bonus is that no matter what comes next, the car is respectable enough to not worry about pulling into a motel parking lot or restaurant full of gearheads looking like the road warrior. I next like to drive by the location of the event so as to ascertain the easiest way in and out.
Most of the events we attend are over-nighters so the plan changes according to the show schedule, participate in whatever you can. The evening cruises are fun and I suggest not spending all your time driving. Stop in a good spot and watch for awhile.
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