Friday, December 31, 2010

More than 100 photos from the legendary I-70 Speedway in Odessa, Mo. The most awesome race track I've ever been to

I've been in the picture scanning mode lately, and I decided to go all-out and share my photo collection from what is easily the most interesting job I had, working in the front office of I-70 Speedway in Odessa, Mo.

I-70 was a Kansas City racing institution. Opened in 1969 by salvage yard owner Bill Roberts, the track proved to be one of the fastest, toughest, most significant venues in the Midwest. For its time, I-70 Speedway was state-of-the-art, with modern concession stands and restrooms, individual boat-type seats in the grandstands, and a VIP suite/media center. Short tracks didn't get much better than this.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Remember your old cars with a scale model

Like most people, I sometimes miss the cars I sell. Usually, I get rid of them for a good reason—like the new one is better—but still, I get attached to them.

Of course, unless you have unlimited funds, you can’t keep ‘em all. And since that is the case, maybe the next best thing is to pick up a diecast or build a model of your long lost prized possessions.

I got in the habit of building a model of whatever car I own years ago. Truth be told, my models aren’t show winners or anything, but they mean something to me. I still find myself studying my old models and thinking about what it was like to drive that car, or I think about the fun places I went in that car. I’m pretty sentimental anyway, so it doesn’t take much to send me into dreamland.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

America's family sedan. The history of the Chevrolet Impala

For some 50 years, the Chevrolet Impala has been a perennial best-seller in American driveways. And there’s a good reason for that. They’re larger than most cars in their price range, have a record of reliability, and carry a history like no other family car on the market.

Impalas are a pretty common sight around my house. Right now, we have three—my wife’s 2007, my ’96 SS, and a 2004 that we purchased new. We were supposed to trade the ’04 in on the ’07, but it was such a good car, we decided to keep it. So yeah, the leaping deer logo is pretty familiar in our garage.

The Impala started as an upscale trim option in 1958. Bumping the lavish Bel Air from the top of the food chain, those long, chrome-drenched first Impalas were everything people loved about 1950s automotive style. When you look at a ’58 Impala today, it is hard to imagine that this over-the-top, highly-detailed land yacht sits in the same place in the market as the current car, but that’s how it was. You could order your fancy new Impala with anything from a 235-c.i. straight-six, to a monstrous 348 V8. And these X-framed cars are still revered by collectors today.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Vintage car dealership photos from the 1950s, '60s, and '70s. The mother lode

I'm a real sucker for old car pictures. And nothing captures the feel of old cars more than the places they were sold. I mean, look at the top of this page--the whole blog starts with a picture of my granddad's used car lot from the 1940s.

When you look back at old car dealership photos, you're not just looking at a few cars parked around a building. You're looking at someone's hopes and dreams. You're looking at history before it happened. Someone may have saved their whole life to purchase the thing you're looking at there. Maybe it ended up driving them to their wedding. Maybe someone eventually died in that car.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Walter P. Chrysler Museum in Auburn Hills is a stunning showcase of Chrysler's storied history

Chrysler Turbine Concept

There is a lot of news about Chrysler Corporation lately, and much of it is bad. When you are bombarded with all the headlines, it is easy to forget just how significant this company really has been in this country.

I was reminded of that fact earlier this year when I took a tour of the Walter P. Chrysler Museum in Auburn Hills, Mich. This 55,000-square-foot facility holds three levels of rare and interesting vehicles from Chrysler’s storied history.

Some of my favorites included concept cars such as the 1941 Chrysler Thunderbolt, the 1941 Chrysler Newport, and the 1953 Chrysler Ghia Special. Seriously, where are you going to be able to see these unbelievably rare cars together in one place?

Friday, December 10, 2010

The vicious cycle of Pixar Cars diecasts revisited

My wife called me at work from Target today and asked me if we had already bought a bunch of new Pixar Cars diecasts to give to BHo yet. I’ve already purchased several of them this year, but I honestly couldn’t remember from her descriptions if we had them or not.

The following story is something that I originally posted on the Examiner when I first started writing there. But it reminds me of today’s incident, and pretty much sums up the Cars situation, even two years later …

These things are killing me!

At first, it wasn't so bad. My son loved the Pixar Cars movie, so when they came out with a nice little Lightning McQueen diecast, and a nice little Tow Mater diecast, it made sense to grab 'em.

He carried those two cars around everywhere; clutched tightly in his little hands. He loved them. So we didn't think twice when they came out with the menacing Chick Hicks, or the Doc Hudson car. I mean, he was so into them, he had to have the whole set, right?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Tubemobiles! Local cars that came straight from Hollywood movies and TV shows

General Lee in KC!
Kansas City isn't exactly the entertainment capital of the world. Not many movies are made here. It would be unusual to see Tom Cruise in the local Starbucks. They don't tend to block off the streets to film car chases. If you can make it here, you might not be able to make it somewhere else.

But if you go to enough car shows around town, so start to see a distinct Hollywood influence. Real and recreated TV and movie cars are all over the place, and you can really have a brush with fame when you see these cars for real.

In case you hadn't noticed, I'm a total sucker for old car-related movies and shows. So when I see one of these celebrity cars around here, I notice it. I mean, the General Lee can clear a barn by hitting a ramp made from hay bails. Who wouldn't want to see something like that in person?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

On the anniversary of Pearl Harbor, we look back at the contributions of American car companies during World War II

People often have a hard time differentiating American vehicles from foreign vehicles these days. The complex equation of assembly plant locations, company headquarters, content origin, and marketing message can throw off even those who want to support the home team. General Motors is partially owned by the tax payers. Chrysler now has a foreign owner. Toyota and Honda build a few of their vehicles in the U.S. What does it all mean?

Well, if you appreciate the notion of being loyal to companies that have historically been loyal to America, it is hard to ignore the efforts of GM, Ford, and Chrysler. During some of the bleakest times in our nation’s history, these companies have stepped up to the plate to help keep our military strong, and our borders safe.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Mecum auction brought the national spotlight to Kansas City. More than 400 photos from the December 2010 event inside

Nice Bird, huh?  It sold for $186,000!
 Well, the weather outside might be frightful, but the convention center was pretty delightful. This weekend, the Mecum Collector Car Auction was held in downtown Kansas City, and after a month's dry spell of virtually no car shows, the inside of Bartle Hall was a welcome sight.

There was a real assortment of cars at this sale. You could pick up something for under $2,000 if you weren't too particular. But among the beaters and Saturday night cruisers, there were some real heavy hitters.

The top-selling vehicle was a supercharged '57 T-Bird that went for a breathtaking $186,000. A '66 "Big Tank" 427 Corvette traded hands at $141,000. And another '57 'Bird, this a dual-carb E-Code number dressed in yellow, sold for $132,000. There was also a real '65 Shelby GT350 Mustang that failed to sell after a high-bid of $185,000. So obviously, there were some real cars, and some real bidders in the house.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Hover Motor Company introduces a brand-spankin' new messageboard. Free forums for local car clubs!

I've made it out to a bunch of car shows in the Kansas City area over the summer, and I know lots of you are checking out the site. I've enjoyed meeting some of you, and I appreciate all the positive feedback the blog has generated. I really do appreciate it, and I'm glad you seem to be enjoying the stories!

Today, I'm starting a new element to the online experience, the new Hover Motor Company messageboard:

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Model kits from the 1950s and '60s. Who builds these things, anyway?

Whenever I go to the hobby store, or to the craft place with my wife, or anywhere they sell 1/25th-scale plastic model kits, I always wonder if anyone ever actually builds them anymore. Real life people that I talk to about them say things like, "I used to build them as a kid. I think my mom threw them out a long time ago." Most of the kids I see now seem to be more into electronic games and test messaging than something that takes the patience of model building. Who is supporting this hobby?

And yet, there is a bigger selection of models than ever before, and some of these kits are more detailed than the older versions ever dreamed of being. There are aftermarket parts and custom spray paint colors, tools and materials that can make a model kit look like a real car.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Downtown DeSoto open house reveals an unforgettable collection of automotive passion in downtown Clinton

When you think of great car collections, the Kansas City area may not be the first place that comes to mind. Yet, week after week, we are able to find some excellent shows and museums within a short drive.

Take the place I went this weekend. "Downtown DeSoto" is located about 75-miles south of KC in Clinton, Mo., and when it comes to truly fascinating collections, this one is hard to beat.

The collection is the work of Jim Raysik, who is also the Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, and GMC dealer in Clinton. And although there are some great cars, what really hits you is the meticulousness and completeness of the presentation.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The world's most hellacious hue. More than 200 black cars in recognition of Black Friday

Black Friday. Just the name strikes fear into those that hear it. The traffic. The crowds. The lines. The misery. Is a 40-percent off really worth this?

Black is also an important matter for car freaks. The richest of all paint colors, it can be so shiny; so deep; so reflective; so beautiful.

It can also be a huge pain in the, uh, yeah. Swirl marks, scratches, and fingerprints are enough to drive anyone crazy. And it looks dirty before you even get it home from the car wash. Henry Ford can sit on a short stick—I say, any color BUT black!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Battle Force 5 - from the Requests and Dedication line!

The Director
 “Dad—I have an idea you can do for an article.”

I have to admit, I love it that BHo, my first grade son, even cares enough to come up with story ideas. He gets drug to car shows and races and things all summer. He waits around a lot while I wash the car. I couldn’t ask for a better kid when I’m doing what I want to do, so I can’t very well take his requests lightly.

“Yeah, what is it?”

Battle Force 5

“Oh. OK. Well, um, what do you want me to write about?”

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

In honor of Thanksgiving, let's look at the Mayflower. And the Pilgrims. Oh, and Plymouths from all over Kansas City!

Unfortunately, there weren’t any cars in Squanto's day, but a major component of Thanksgiving had an influence on what was once one of the top selling cars in America.

When you think of the Pilgrims, you probably have an image of a bunch of guys in big, dopey buckle hats eating cranberry sauce around a lavishly set picnic table and taking corn planting lessons from smiling Indians.

People enjoying a picnic isn’t all that big of a deal in and of itself, but, you know, they had to sail there in a stinky, wooden ship. It took 66 days. 45 of the 102 passengers died. Pretty much everybody got scurvy, which is way worse than H1N1. They earned that turkey dinner.

Monday, November 22, 2010

No car shows? No problem. That's why we have places like Wagner's Classic Cars in Bonner Springs

It’s easy to think that now that the car show season is over in Kansas City, there won’t be anyplace to see any neat cars until next spring.

Well hold on, cowboy. There are all kinds of great places to look at cars around here when the weather gets cold. You just have to know where to find them.

One great place to check out is Wagner’s Classic Cars in Bonner Springs, Kan. I make it a regular stop when I’m out window shopping. Wagner’s usually has a large variety of high-end muscle cars, classics, and hot rods for your viewing pleasure. And of course, if you’re doing your Christmas shopping, all these cars are for sale.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Car & truck toys of the '50s and '60s may have been from a simpler time, but they're not that simple

Back in the 1950s and '60s, there might not have been Wii's and Nintendos to occupy kids time, and cars and trucks didn't have lights or computerized voices, but that didn't mean there weren't some pretty killer interactive toys back then.

Many of the toy cars of the late '50s focused on repair. Certainly, real cars and trucks weren't as reliable as they are today. It wasn't uncommon for the patched tube in a bald retread to give up the ghost, forcing a roadside delay. Overheating was another common problem, so kids were used to seeing mom or dad dumping a little water in the radiator.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows? How about Chevy Camaro and the Deadly Stallion?

In case you hadn’t heard, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1, is making a big splash in theatres right now. And I’ll be honest; I don’t know much about Harry Potter. When I see the previews to those movies, I never see any neat cars or anything that really gets me too excited. But the more I find out about these movies, the more I’ve determined that the whole thing is just a rip-off of the history of the Camaro.

Let’s look at the facts. The Camaro was a sporty car that emerged in no small part to the demise of the Chevy Corvair. Dark forces conspired to kill the Corvair, but they were unable to squelch the magic of the Camaro. In the movies, Harry Potter’s parents were killed by evil forces, while Harry went on to bigger and better things.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Karlin Lane and Country Classics antique malls in Bolivar, Mo., are worth pulling off to check out if you like cars

1948 Playboy
While many Kansas Citians think Bolivar, Mo., is a place that you have to pass through to get somewhere else, I’ve always considered the little southern Missouri town as a destination point. And if you like cars, there’s good reason for that.

For one, it is the home of Bolivar Speedway (formerly known as I-44 Speedway). It’s a great 3/8-mile paved track that hosts weekly Late Model and Modified events throughout the summer. It was one of the home tracks of Larry Phillips, one of the most accomplished NASCAR short track drivers in history, and drivers like Jamie McMurray also cut their teeth on the high-banked oval.

Bolivar is also the location for the Country Classics and Karlin Lane antique malls, which are pretty car-centric in their own rights. The two stores are located right next to each other, just off Highway 13.

Monday, November 15, 2010

'60 in scale. Dealer promo model cars from 1960. Can't buy the real car? Try a promotional model.

1960. Charlton Heston won an Academy Award for Ben Hur. The Flintstones first appeared on TV. And Elvis Presley returns from Germany after a two-year stint in the Army.

In the automotive world, designs were starting to get a little cleaner, a little more understated than the last couple of years. They're still big, chrome-encrusted, and glamorous, but you can see the impetus of the subdued '60s starting to take hold. Think about a '60 Cadillac. It's still very big. It still has big fins and a heavy chrome grill. But compared to a '59 Cadillac, it's a pretty sterile design.

If you like the transitional style of 1960, but can't afford a huge warehouse full of cars, there's a way to collect the year's greatest hits in the palm of your hand.

Branson Auto Museum provides relief from the crowds of Silver Dollar City

'41 Graham-Hollywood Supercharged
My folks are having their 40th wedding anniversary next weekend, so we booked some log cabins on the Silver Dollar City property to celebrate. My mom always talks about how much she likes log cabins, so that was the impetus for this plan.

Silver Dollar City was OK, but extraordinarily busy over Veteran’s Day weekend. But for me, the highlight of the trip wasn’t a rollercoaster or the blacksmith—it was our short detour into Branson’s Highway 76 “Strip”, and a visit to the Branson Auto Museum.

We actually visited the museum back in April, but the selection of cars on display had changed considerably in seven months.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A look at the vehicles from the Kansas City Military Vehicle Preservation Society in honor of Veteran's Day

Since today is Veteran’s Day, I thought it would be appropriate to look back on some great military vehicles that were on display at the Liberty Memorial over Memorial Day weekend. We haven’t covered this here before, and there are a few pictures here that haven’t previously been published.

The Military Vehicle Preservation Society brought out several fascinating, battle-tested machines, and the owners were available and willing to answer any questions that people may have had.

The collection of Jeeps, transporters, weapons, and motorcycles were just part of the attraction. The Preservation Society also went out of their way to set-up realistic battle scenes. Yeah, they were mannequins dressed up like soldiers, but it was a jarring reminder that these weren't just your everyday, ordinary vehicles.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Ford kills off the Model T bloodline for 2011

1955 Ford Crown Victoria
Tonight, CNBC is airing a special called Ford: Rebuilding an American Icon. They’re going to talk about Ford’s business, how they’ve been able to move ahead without taking bankruptcy, and some of the changes they’re making for the future.

At the same time, I have been thinking about the end of an American icon. Of course, Ford builds all kinds of cars and trucks. Mustangs have a great history, F-150s are big sellers, and the Fiesta is getting a lot of buzz. But only one vehicle in the Ford lineup is a direct descendant of the Model T (and technically, even earlier than that)—the Ford Crown Victoria. And after the 2011 model year, that branch of the family tree will finally end once the Crown Vic is discontinued.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Cadillacs, Lincolns, and Pierce Arrows. Presidential limousines and parade cars throughout history

You know that the president rides around in a fancy black limousine. But did you know that there’s more to those cars than just looking “presidential”? Since Veteran’s Day is Thursday, I thought we’d take a look at some of the cars America’s commanders in chief have ridden in throughout the years.

The Cadillac limo that President Obama rides through town in is more like a tank than a car. It is believed to weigh-in at more than 10,000-lbs. Most of that is due to thick, bullet-proof glass and armor plating throughout. Even the tires are resistant to attack and contain innerliners just in case the outer tires are damaged.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Not one person beaten by nunchucks at the 22nd-Annual Toys for Tots Run

Bikers and hot-rodders have always had a bit of a rough reputation. Poster children for dangerous miscreants, their presence in your neighborhood is likely to result in someone getting beat to death with a chain, or maybe an out of control jalopy mowing down a toddler's birthday party.

And yet, when they're not burning a swath of terror fueled by the blood of the innocent, events like the 22nd-Annual Toys for Tots Run prove that they might not be that bad after all.

Monday, November 1, 2010

So long, Pontiac. You will be missed. Great commercials from a great brand.

When we woke up this morning, the automotive world was forever changed. Pontiac, General Motors’ “Excitement” division, officially went out of business at midnight. All dealer contracts expired, and the brand that brought us the Firebird, the Super Duty, and the GTO, is no more.

For students of automotive history, this is truly a sad day. Who can forget all the great cars that Pontiac produced over the years? Was there ever a better looking car than the ’61 Ventura? Was there ever a better turned-out personal luxury car than the ’64 Grand Prix? Would the Bandit have been the Bandit without his Trans Am?

Pontiac lasted for 84 years. That’s longer than most of us have been alive. And even though you didn’t hear much about it toward the end, it still had a loyal following. Surprisingly, the final new models in the Pontiac stable were among the best in their history. The G8 was a truly world-class muscle car. The Solstice was a critically acclaimed sports roadster. Even the bread-and-butter G6 was a very nice midsized offering, and the hardtop convertible version of that car was like nothing else in the GM stable.

Instead of getting stuck on how unfortunate it is that things were allowed to get to the point where this could happen, let’s take a look at Pontiac’s illustrious past, and check out some of the television advertisements from the company’s glory days.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Bob McDorman auction will be completely awesome, but completely sad at the same time

“Bunkie” Knudson's Harley Earl-built,
one-off '63 Corvette Roadster.
Photo: Mecum Auctions
 As a sentimentalist and a collector, I always feel a bit of sadness when I hear that the nation’s great car collections are pieced out and sold at auction. And for Chevrolet fans, one of the most significant collections was assembled by Ohio Chevy dealer Bob McDorman. His amazing group of cars will be sold by Mecum Auctions at his Canal Winchester dealership on November 6.

McDorman is well-known for owning one example of every year Corvette ever produced. And many of those are exceptionally significant cars. Twelve of those Corvettes have serial number 1. Some of them are special-order, GM-built, one-offs, like Bunkie Knudsen's 1963 Sting Ray, and his wife Florence’s specially modified “Pink Pearl” car. These cars are ridiculously awesome, with all kinds of Bill Mitchell design touches inside and out.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Back to the Future comes back to the present. Includes a look at the DeLorean DMC-12

“You built a time machine … out of a DeLorean?”

If you were around in the 1980s, you probably remember that line spoken by Michael J. Fox in the 1985 Steven Spielberg-produced time travel adventure Back to the Future. It has been a long time since anyone has been able to hear that said on the big screen, however. But thanks to the film’s 25th anniversary, Back to the Future is back in the present, as the film was re-released for two showings in selected cities.

We had a chance to catch the re-release at Barrywoods 24 at I-29 and Barry Road, and in spite of the somewhat outdated ‘80s feel, the film still holds up well today.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Doesn't everyone put their truck in a costume for Halloween?

Halloween brings out all kinds of crazy homemade costumes—and sometimes they aren’t even on people! Take Saturday night during the “Trunk or Treat” event at St. Therese church in Parkville, Mo. In addition to the usual collection of ghosts and ghouls trolling the parking lot for candy, people also fixed up their vehicles to scare and amuse all the kids and their parents.

Our family usually attends this event for our son to score some free Twix bars, but we also set up a candy station in the back of our ’63 Chevy C-10. Naturally, the truck needs a costume too, and what better costume for a rusty old truck than Tow Mater from the Pixar Cars movie.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Volkswagens, Fords, swap meets, and more. Kansas City car shows, races, and events for October 22, 23, 24

Yes, we’re starting to see the phrase, “last one of the year” turn up in more and more of these event listings. We’re nearing the end of October, and car events are going to start to become few-and-far-between very shortly.

But let’s not dwell on the negative! At least there are still some great events that you can hit this weekend. Whether you like Fords, Volkswagens, or something more general, there are still some fun places around Kansas City that you can go to scratch that automotive itch.

Check out the list below for the full skinny. And remember, as we get later in the season, it is a very smart idea to call ahead and make sure it’s a go before you head out to these things. Or not. Sometimes it’s worth taking the chance just for the opportunity to get to drive somewhere.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Vintage 1/24th-scale Monogram stock car model kits are fun collectables for NASCAR fans

It seems like NASCAR diecast models are everywhere today. You can get a nicely finished version of pretty much every car out there, and usually every special paint scheme. There are so many different diecasts are available, it would be virtually impossible to collect them all.

It wasn’t always that way, though. In the 1980s, if you wanted a scale model of your favorite driver, you pretty much had to build it yourself. And the most popular; and arguably best 1/24th-scale plastic model kits were made by Monogram Models.

Monogram had been building kits since the early 1950s, but the stock car business really took off with the introduction of a new NASCAR line in 1983. At the time, these kits were state-of-the art. They had features and details never before seen in race car kits. Even the construction of the chassis and the way it mated up to the body was similar to the way a real racecar was built.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Drive to Survive Car Show in Edwardsville raised money and hopes for Dorian Comeau

The biggest car show we ran across this weekend was the "Drive to Survive" benefit event in Edwardsville, Kan. This was put together for a popular owner of a performance shop, Dorian Comeau, who suffered serious injuries in a car accident last May.

Dorian was paralyzed from the neck down, and the show raised money for surgery costs, wheel chair provisions, and other necessities. It also drove home the idea of wearing your seat belt. All-in-all, pretty good reasons to hold a car show.

This was definitely a nice turnout. There were cars parked all around this industrial park area, as well as in the fields surrounding those lots. And unlike some car shows, the spectator parking, where normal cars were sent, may have been bigger than the car show.

Rock 'Em Out Car Show and Rockabilly Day brought cool cars and crazy characters to Zona Rosa

You have to admit, the weather is pretty darned stellar in Kansas City for mid-October. Normally a car show would be a miserable, cold affair right about now, but that was no such problem for the Rev 'Em Up and Rock 'Em Out Car Show and Rockabilly Day presented by Fat Fish Blue and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Kansas City in the Zona Rosa shopping area.

I think this was envisioned as sort of a upscale shopping version of the Greaserama show, and there were a few gritty hot rods, girls with bright red lipstick, and guys with their jeans rolled up. There were a couple of newer cars slipped in there, like a Chevy SSR and a Plymouth Prowler. But really, what do you expect when you're a block away from an Old Navy store? I kind of like those SSRs anyway.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Tallant's Body Shop open house kinda' makes a guy wish he had taken up auto painting instead of marketing

When you go to a lot of car shows around town, you start to notice patterns. And one thing that seems to be fairly consistent is that a lot of the higher-end hot rods have been built or worked on by Tallant's Auto Body in North Kansas City.

Saturday, Tallant's had an open house to show off some of their current projects, and several of their friends and folks with cars they've worked on were on hand to eat hot dogs (made in a grill that looks like a dragster, no less) and bench race.

Tallant's Body Shop is connected to KC Street Rod Parts, so they were also offering discounts and letting people check out their showroom.

When you get to the Longbranch Car Cruise too late, it's a little tough to see anything

Friday night my mom had some of her little gnome dolls that she makes featured at Images Art Gallery in Overland Park, Kan., so we went down there after work to check it out. My wife drove, and just as we were about to head north toward home, I casually sprung out with, "hey, just turn down here and let's see if there are any cars at the Longbranch Cruise."

To which she shrewdly observed, "um, it's dark out, you know."

And she had a point. Fact is, at 7:15, the sun was completely gone. Pitch dark. Nothing to see here. Why does summer have to end, anyway?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Test-driving the 2011 Ford F-150 at the Michigan Proving Grounds. So what's that like?

Tuesday was a busy day. I caught a 6:00 a.m. flight to Detroit, took a two-hour car ride to the Ford Proving Grounds in Romeo, Mich., drove the new engine lineup for the 2011 Ford F-150, rode back to the airport in a shuttle van, and was back in Kansas City by 9:15 p.m.

You can read about the new Ford truck in my article on the Examiner. But honestly, you can read that kind of stuff anywhere.  Here, I thought I'd tell you a little about the Ford Proving Grounds and what this type of event is like.

Get out there before the weather gets bad. Kansas City car shows, cruises, and races for October 15, 16, 17*

The list of car shows and events is starting to dwindle for this season, even though it looks like we’re going to have some really nice weather. Still, there is a nice list of things that you can go do, including a Big Brothers and Big Sisters event in Kansas City that looks pretty interesting, a toy show in Adrian, and four classes of racing at Lakeside Speedway.

So how are you going to spend your final days of the car season around Kansas City? Maybe you’ll find something that trips your trigger in the schedule of events below.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Hover Motor Company author recognized on

Well, you can say you knew me when.

Recently, I was invited to be the spotlight writer of the month at No doubt about it, it's only a matter of time before I am snatched up by some big automotive magazine, and whisked away to Italy to review the newest Farrari, never to do this blog again.

OK, maybe not. But it was still pretty cool to be recognized by a legitimate source for automotive journalists. Plus, some of the real players in the industry subscribe to that newsletter, so who knows what it might lead to?

Anyway, if you'd like to read a little more about me (I know, things could be better), check out the article below.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Great video of car advertisements from the '50s and '60s

You may have noticed that I tend to gravitate toward old car promotional stuff. I love the old advertisements, collectables, memorabilia, and all the stuff that surrounded old cars back when they were new. Maybe that's why I'm running out of living space--too much of that old kitsch taking over the house.

I've always loved this kind of stuff, which is probably why my college education centered around marketing and advertising. No, that's not what my career is in, but I guess I was training to manage my collection and write this blog.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Is 'gargantic' a word? Because that's how big the 2010 Basehor-Linwood Project Grad Car Show was

Last year, Basehor, Kan., was one of the coldest, most miserable places that anyone would ever want to be. And yet, the number of entries at the Basehor-Linwood High School Car Show was very large. It was easily one of the better attended car shows of the entire year.

But that great turnout didn't really prepare anyone for what would happen if it had been one of the four absolutely perfect days that seem to occur in Kansas City every fall. But as it happens, one of them fell on Saturday, and this car show exploded.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Dealer promo models - the early years. 1947 - 1953. The beginning of plastic promotional cars

1949 Oldsmobile Promo
If you have a promotional model car collection, the first question most people are going to ask you when they first see them is: “did you build all those?”

Dealer promos are among the most valuable, most sought-after scale model cars ever made. And yet, the average person has no idea what they are. Today, we’ll try to explain how promos fit into the scale model puzzle, and we’ll take a look at some early examples in the slideshow below.

Promo models were cast in pot metal for many years before our story starts. They were usually coin banks. These high-quality, durable miniatures were sold as far back as the 1920s or ‘30s, and nice originals tend to bring good money today.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Another crack at the Jayhawk, car shows, cruises, and races all over Kansas City for October 8, 9, 10

After all the car stuff that went on last weekend, you’d think we could get a break. Not so! There are more than enough high-horsepower activities in which Kansas Citians can participate this weekend.

Finally, after two unsuccessful attempts, it looks like Mother Nature is going to allow Lakeside Speedway to run the Jayhawk Modified Classic. The Basehor Project Grad Car Show is always a big deal. And several area cruise nights are being held for the final weekend of the season, including the Bass Pro Shops cruise in Independence.

And unlike most years, the weather on this second weekend in October promises to be warm and comfortable, as opposed to the usual climate that only appeals to the Polar Bear Club. Check out the entire schedule below.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Take the edge off my vote for the Internet Car and Truck of the Year

Camaro-2010 winner.  Photo: GM Media
“Where Internet Pros and the Average Joes Pick the Car and Truck of the Year”

That’s the slogan for the nationally recognized Internet Car and Truck of the Year contest, which is going on right now. And here’s something that you probably never would have guessed—I am in the “Internet Pros” category.

I know what you’re thinking, “sure, Craig, you have a nice blog, but you mostly post car show pictures and write about the Dukes of Hazzard. What do you know about picking new cars?”

Monday, October 4, 2010

R.I.P. Stephen J. Cannell. His shows live on, and so do the cars.

Tonight my wife said, "you know Stephen J. Cannell died, right?"

Of course, I knew that.  As if.  In my world, this guy built one of the most enviable careers I've ever seen. I mean, he created some of the greatest cheeseball one-hour cop and detective shows ever shown on television.  Shows that, by the way, I am still absolutely addicted to today.  This is the guy that came up with The Rockford Files, The Greatest American Hero, Hunter, and The A-Team. 

He was able to develop those awesome bits of guilty pleasure, become rich and famous, and actually have movie studios hire real actors, blow things up, coordinate car chases, and televise all this to a national audience.  Seriously, for someone like me who stresses over a measly little blog, this is amazing, fantastic, cataclysmic, otherworldly awesomeness that cannot be explained in words. 

He died of cancer last Thursday, which totally stinks.  But his TV shows live on on television and DVD. 

In keeping with the car theme of this place, I decided to talk about some of my favorite Stephen J. Cannell shows in the context of the cars that were on them.  I'll bet you remember a few of these:

Sunday, October 3, 2010

GladFest car show brought lots of happy car lovers to Happy Rock

When church lets out at 11:00 on Sunday, look out, because the Hovers are on the loose!

Today it was straight to GladFest Days in Gladstone, Mo. Craft booths for mom, carnival rides for son, and oh yeah, a big car show for dad. And we smoked through all this in enough time to go see the Challenger steam locomotive on temporary display at Union Station with my wife's dad, a retired Union Pacific man and overall train nut.

It's hard to forget the GladFest car show. A big part of that is because organizers handed out a glossy, bi-fold, color entry blank at nearly every other car show I went to this summer. I keep all those kind of flyers to use in the "Upcoming Events" features, and my folder is cram-packed with GladFest information.

Unprofessional, regular, family-style coverage of the racing at Kansas Speedway

In case you didn't know, Greg Biffle won the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Price Chopper 400 at Kansas Speedway. But Biffle wasn't the only winner in Kansas City, Kan.

Beautiful weather meant that everyone who went to the races was a winner, too. And my family and I were among the hordes of fans that spent some time watching the sensible consumption of high-octane fuel this weekend.

Overall, we had an incredible busy weekend, so getting to Kansas Speedway wasn't really in the cards. But as luck would have it, BHo's school was closed on Friday, so we were able to take in a day of practice and qualifying at Kansas City's racing showplace.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Where did all the NASCAR fans go?

If you’ve followed NASCAR for any length of time, you’ve probably noticed a disturbing trend. Attendance is down. TV ratings are down. Interest is down. Not ten years ago, NASCAR was the hottest sport in the world. Track promoters couldn’t build enough seats. What is happening here?

First of all, I realize that everyone has their opinion. Everyone is qualified to give it. I have nothing particularly unique to offer. I’m just an avid fan, who hasn’t missed but a handful of NASCAR Sprint Cup races on television over the past 25 years, I used to work professionally as a NASCAR track promoter, and most importantly, I have my own blog.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Beater truck returns to its roots at Carolyn's Pumpkin Patch Car Show

Each year, we head out to Carolyn's Pumpkin Patch in Liberty, take the hay ride out to find "our" perfect pumpkin, feed the farm animals, watch the pig races, and play on the farm-themed playground. Well, technically BHo does the playground stuff, but we get credit for watching.

Normally, I wouldn't even bring this up on my car blog, but this year we learned about an added little bonus--a car show! So, my old Nebraska farm truck got a change to go back to its roots, bounce down a long gravel road, and spend a day with the hay fever-inducing aura of agriculture all around.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Go home and put some meat on your bones. You're going to work your ass off here.

When you look at my supreme awesomeness today, it's hard to believe there was a time when I was a scrawny, 120-lb nerd.

It was the summer of 1987, I was 14 years-old, and I wanted a car. But cars don't just fall from the sky--I needed a j-o-b. I applied at every place within walking distance of our house. I wanted to land that sweet position at Hardee's about a half-mile away, but they wouldn't hire me. I guess I wasn't old enough. I guess no one thought I was old enough, because no place would even call me back.

Except one.