Crazy About Cars
What do Americans love almost as much as cars? Car shows. Here are some rip-roaring events to watch for.
The Hot Rod Nationals in Indianapolis, Ind.
Americans love their cars. There's nothing like climbing behind the wheel of a 1970s Starsky & Hutch Ford Gran Torino or running your hand across the shiny fat fender of a meticulously restored 1939 De Soto to conjure up memories.
Automobiles inspire awe and emotion. Every year tens of thousands of people visit hundreds of car shows around the country to admire the design, engineering and performance of the invention that transformed America and the 20th century.
Here are a few events that stand out.
Fans of fast cars flock to Indianapolis each Memorial Day weekend for the Indy 500, one of the world's premier auto races. Those whose appetite for speed is not sated can stick around for the Hot Rod Nationals in June.
One of 23 spectacles around the country produced by the Goodguys Rod & Custom Association, the Indianapolis event showcases more than 5,000 nostalgia-inspiring machines from 1972 or earlier, including classic race cars and candy-colored hot rods.
Nightly drag races are one highlight of the three-day car fest, and anyone wanting to acquire a metallic speed demon of their own can buy or swap for one.
Those who already have suitable rides can drive them along the fabled Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The Chicago Annual Historic Route 66 Classic Car Show
Get your kicks on Route 66
Held on the third weekend in September, the Chicago Annual Historic Route 66 Classic Car Show was conceived a few years ago as a family-friendly event for the Chicago's Lawndale neighborhood, offering locals and visitors the chance to see some historic cars on what event organizers call the most famous road in America.
Now known mainly as Ogden Avenue as it passes through western Chicago, the historic U.S. Highway 66 (also known as Route 66, America's Main Street and The Mother Road) ran from Chicago to Los Angeles.
The car show draws about 3,500 people and as many as 200 cars, ranging from the classics to low riders.
British Invasion in Stowe, Vt. Photo by Bob Doyle.
The British are coming
On the third weekend of each September, elements of British culture -- from ales to breakfast jams -- are uncharacteristically visible in Stowe, Vt. But the main attractions are cars that hail from the United Kingdom, including Bentleys, Morgans, M.G.'s, Rolls Royces, Aston Martins, Jaguars and Land Rovers.
Such classic motorcar brands are the main draws at the British Invasion auto show, which has grown from an idea developed over a pint of ale in 1990 into what organizers say is one of the 10 biggest events in Vermont, and the largest all-British car show on the East Coast.
The four-day affair includes two car shows -- a Concourse d'Elegance judged on Classic Car Club of America rules, and a more informal People's Choice. There's also a tailgate picnic competition and a driving tour of the nearby Lake Champlain Islands.
> Search for more about British cars | classic cars | Bentley | Jaguar
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Heavy metal in Pittsburgh
Because so much of the metal produced in this city's steel mills over the years was made into automobiles, the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix can be seen as a kind of homecoming.
The 10-day celebration, held each July, kicks off with a road rally through the city and culminates with a day of races and car shows at Schenley Park. In between there's the black tie-optional "Cocktails & Tailpipes" charity fundraising party and a parade of race cars through downtown, as well as numerous other opportunities to see vintage (pre-1960) and historic (post-1960) cars on display and in action.
Hemingway BBQ & Shag Festival in Hemingway, N.C. Photo by Winyah Cruisers.
Whole hog in Hemingway
The chance to see some vintage automobiles is just one of the reasons thousands of people head to the small town of Hemingway, S.C. each April.
As its name suggests, the Hemingway BBQ & Shag Festival includes a barbecue cook off (vegans be warned: we're talking whole hogs here, with and without heads attached) and plenty of folks doing the Carolina Shag, which is the official state dance.
Carnival rides, a petting zoo and an arts and crafts fair add to the excitement, and then of course there are the cars.
Hosted by the Winyah Cruisers Car Club, based in nearby Georgetown, S.C., that part of the event is officially known as the L. C. Stone Memorial Car Show. Depending on the weather, attendees can generally expect to see 50 to 75 vehicles, including faithfully restored classics and heavily modified "muscle cars."
The Forge Classic in Kingsport, Tenn.
Muscle cars for the boomer generation
A lot of car shows showcase old cars of various vintages, but The Forge Classic, in Kingsport, Tenn., is devoted to a more select group -- rare cars from the 1960s and 1970s.
Held in October, the show highlights limited edition muscle cars in an indoor, museum-like setting.
In 1969, for example, Ford build only about 750 race-inspired Talladega sedans. Showcasing the surviving examples of such rare makes -- including race cars, prototype and assembly line pilot car versions -- is what The Forge Classic is all about.
Another unique quality of this show is that many of the vehicles on display are owned by people who worked in the automotive industry, and were directly involved in the development and production of the cars that are on display.
Classic cars in a classic town
Rhinebeck, N.Y., located about 100 miles north of New York City, is a town comfortable with classics. Its oldest building, the Beekman Arms, dates back to 1700 and is reported to be the country's oldest inn. Just outside of town sits an aerodrome that is home to a collection of World War I-era aircraft.
During the first weekend of each May the town hosts the Rhinebeck Car Show and Swap Meet, a three-day function with separate car shows devoted to hot rods, custom cars and race cars, and to unmodified antiques and classic cars.
The festivities draw about 30,000 spectators and about 2,000 cars, and include an indoor crafts show and an automotive flea market. It's all sponsored by the Hudson River Valley Antique Auto Association, a coalition of six area car clubs.
> Check out MSN Autos for vintage cars
> Find Rhinebeck News | Weather | Sports | Events
Jay Leno at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance in Pebble Beach, Calif.
Held on 18th fairway of the Pebble Beach Golf Links on California's Monterey Peninsula, the Pebble Beach Concoursd'Elegance makes a credible claim to being "the world's premier celebration of the automobile."
First held in 1950, the annual August event provides an opportunity for some of the world's most expensive classic automobiles and motorcycles to be judged on their historical accuracy, technical merit and style, in the hopes of winning the coveted "Best in Show" prize.
Spectators can expect to pay at least $150 for a glimpse at the elite vehicles in this spectacular setting, and those who consider that an indulgence can take comfort in the fact that the famous car show has so far raised an estimated $13 million for charity.
> Read more about the event on MSN Autos
> Find Pebble Beach News | Weather | Sports | Events
Finally, one of the most popular car events in the country is the Woodward Dream Cruise in Detroit. A salute to classic American muscle cars, the event drew 1 million visitors and 40,000 cars last year, and returns in August. Read more on MSN Autos.
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