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.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Chevelles, Pumpkins, and Maid Rites. Kansas City car shows, races, and cruises for September 25, 26, 27

What to do … what to do. Summer is officially over. Soon, it will be cold, snowy and miserable. Better get out there and do some car stuff before it’s too late!

Like Chevelles? Hit the Midwest Chevelle Regionals at the Great Mall in Olathe. Want to do something more kid-friendly? Carolyn’s Pumpkin Patch out by the Ameristar is having their own countrified car show. There are a few more cruise nights to go, like the last one in Belton this year. Or choose from a full schedule of cruises, car shows, and car races. Kansas City is a real car town—but only as long as the weather holds out!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Why people should feel bad about feeling good. Old cars, and the evil within

Photo: GM Media Archives
 Is it the end of the road for the traditional auto enthusiast?

Being around car people my whole life, I’ve learned to appreciate cars with all five senses. There’s no room for technology for technology’s sake, but if someone comes up with something that runs better, or looks better, or drives better, or sounds better, or smells better, or feels better, that’s progress you can believe in.

Take that last one—feels better. I’ve always thought that driving a low, wide, fast, loud Corvette, for example, feels good. And driving a tinny, gutless, cheap Chevette, well, doesn’t.

Anymore, though, our society seems to be conspiring to make what feels good feel bad. People should feel guilty for lusting after anything that might be considered fun, lest it make an impact on Mother Earth. Last year at this time we were crushing any old truck that didn't get 19-mpg so people could get a few bucks off a Kia. There’s talk about limiting speeds in cars electronically, decreasing speed limits, and government monitoring and regulating of our fuel consumption through GPS or other monitoring devices.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

KCMO Unclaimed Vehicles Police Impound Auction was fun, in a different sort of way

Today I took a field trip to the Kansas City, Mo., Police Impound Yard off I-435 and Front Street for the September Unclaimed Vehicles Auction. I was kind of hoping to buy some winter beater really cheap and maybe give my old Impala the Christmas season off.

This was sort of an unusual experience. They don’t run the vehicles through a lane like at a normal auction. Instead, they are all just left in their parking spots, and the auctioneer and his assistant are pulled along in a trailer from car to car. That system makes sense, though--most of these cars don't run.  To sell cars at this auction, you not only need auctioneering experience, but you also shouldn’t be prone to motion sickness.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Cool photos of a 1963 Corvette dealership display during Grotewold Chevrolet grand opening celebration

Today, I have some interesting pictures from the 1963 grand opening of Grotewold Chevrolet in LeMars, Iowa.

The pictures themselves have an interesting history, as they were among a stack that was to be thrown out when the Chevrolet Zone Office closed in 1986. My dad was a district manager there, and grabbed a big handful of pictures for me because he thought I’d think they were neat. Most of them were of dealerships that the district managers took to put in the file. I’ve featured some of them before on my Examiner page, and I really do think they’re fun to look at.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Ol' Marais River Run in Ottawa, Kan., had many cars, mini cars, and a park full of family fun. Coverage and pictures!

There are lots and lots of car shows in and around the Kansas City area, and some of them have great turnouts. But three events stand above the rest. They include the World of Wheels, which is usually held in Bartle Hall in February; the Goodguys Mid-Western Nationals at Kansas Speedway, which we covered here two weeks ago, and the Ol' Marais River Run, which was held this weekend in Ottawa, Kan.

O'l Marais has been expertly presented by the Over the Road Gang Car Club for 24-years now, and the turnout well-exceedes 1,000 hot rods, muscle cars, and specialty vehicles.

Friday, September 17, 2010

1953. The greatest year for the world's greatest company

The question as to what was the best year in the history of General Motors is often the source of hot debate. I think you could make a good case for several different years.

1967 is a big one that comes to mind. Chevrolet produced the most hairy-chested, desirable Corvette in its history. The Camaro debuted to tremendous fanfare. Bill Mitchell’s gorgeous front-wheel-drive Eldorado hit the streets. The Pontiac GTO had grown into its full potential. Everywhere you turned, good things were happening.

1957 is another high water mark. Everything they built became part of our culture. The ’57 Chevy is probably the most iconic car ever. Fuel-injected Chevrolets and Pontiacs were technological marvels. General Motors products from 1957 still influence what we see today.

But if I had to pick a single greatest year, I’d go with 1953. If there ever was an example of the ideal American corporation, the General Motors as depicted in ’53 was it. With World War II becoming a distant memory, the Korean War coming to an end, and a nation of happy, well-fed people looking to get their piece of the American dream, 1953 had it all.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Ol’ Marais River Run, Shrine Swap Meet, and much more. Lakeside postponed. Kansas City car shows, races and events for September 17, 18, 19

The list of car events may be getting smaller, but the events themselves get bigger as the season begins to wind down.

Of note is the Ol’ Marais River Run in Ottowa, which is an absolute monster of a show. I’m not sure of the car count, but some say it is bigger than the Goodguys show at Kansas Speedway. Whatever. It is a big, big deal.

Also, look for the last Shrine Swap Meet of the year, the annual and always popular Jayhawk Modified Classic at Lakeside Speedway, and the mammoth cruise in Downtown Belton.

No matter how your automotive preferences lean, there will be a hum-dinger of an event for you somewhere near Kansas City this weekend.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Ticket stubs, and the racetracks that printed them. Lakeside, Riverside, I-70 Speedway, and more

One of my many serious mental issues is that I have a hard time throwing anything away. I genuinely enjoy looking through folders and stacks of my old stuff, reminiscing about how I got this or that, what I was doing that day, and what that experience meant to me. For the most part, I just do this alone, because no one really cares about my old experiences but me anyway.

Still, as I was looking through my big folder of old ticket stubs the other day and feeling nostalgic, I decided that there are other people that look at this site that have fond memories of these old racetracks, too. The ticket stubs themselves aren't much, but they do keep the memories alive. I pulled a few tickets out from the collection, and thought I'd share some thoughts about these places and events. If you have old racing memories from any of these, I welcome you to share them in the comments section at the end of the article.

I-70 Speedway All-Pro and ARCA events from 1994. First of all, let me just say that I-70 Speedway was, is, and always will be my favorite racetrack. There was nothing that wasn't better on the 28-degree, high-banked, 5/8-mile speed palace in Odessa, Mo. My dad and I went out there as spectators for years. Then I wrote articles for the program. Then I became the marketing director. Then I became the manager. Then someone else bought the track, and I was given the boot. Then the track struggled. Then it died.

The NASCAR All-Pro Series Late Model events at I-70 were legendary. The baddest, fastest, best short track drivers in the country made it a point to try and conquer I-70's treacherous tri-oval. Some local guys tried to mix their cars in with the big boys--few succeeded. Few of the hot shots succeeded either.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Wheels & Dreams Car Show in Shawnee, Kan., had nearly 300 cars under sun-drenched skies. Story and photos!

The fifth installment of the Wheels & Dreams Car Show rolled into downtown Shawnee, Kan., over the weekend, and it is fast becoming one of the must-attend car events in the area.

Shawnee blocked off the city streets to accommodate some 300 cars, trucks, and motorcycles. And when you get a group that big, you’re bound to see some nice ones that don’t turn up anywhere else. Plus, it didn’t hurt that the weather was perfect—mid/upper-‘70s, low humidity, copious sunshine. This was the kind of day car show promoters pray for.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

11th Annual Midwest All Truck Nationals is one of the best truck shows in the country. Learn about it and see the pictures here

Sunscreen. Just one simple word, yet it can make such a big difference. Or maybe it's two words. I'm not sure, because I never was close enough to any on Saturday to read the tube before I spent the whole day in the sun.

I never knew what hit me, though, because I was completely distracted by the fantabulous weather and more than 200 awesome trucks at the 11th-Annual Midwest All Truck Nationals at the E.H. Young Riverfront Park in Riverside, Mo.

For one thing, they had an exact replica of Snowman's rig from Smokey and the Bandit. At least they said it was a replica. I've seen that movie no less than ten-million times, and this baby looked just like it. It even had the Coors beer in the back. Anyone that would paint their truck like that would go to a minister's funeral dressed in feathers. And I, for one, loved it.

Then, they had Bigfoot. Not the a new Bigfoot with ugly sponsorship graphics and a boring current-model F-Series truck. This one looked just like the late-'70s version, kind of like the one the bad guys smashed up the dealership with in Roadhouse.

Turkey Creek Car Show in Merriam special guest photos and coverage

Gobble, gobble, glub, glub. This weekend was the 10th-Annual Turkey Creek Car Show in Merriam, Kan., and as usual, the turnout, the sponsors, and the prizes were among the best in town.

Superior Chevrolet gave away a $4,000 gift certificate. Man, that would be a great prize, wouldn't it? Let's see--what would I buy with that? Maybe some neat accessories or maintenance parts for my old Impala? Oh, I know, I could have my dingy old truck painted in their body shop. Or maybe we could apply it toward a new car for my wife. Ah, the possibilities.

But alas, I did not win the prize. In fact, I was one of the few people in town who didn't even attend this massive event. I was at a gathering on the other side of town.

Luckily, my parents are southlanders, and they were able to snap a few shots for me to share with you here on the blog.

I can hear them now.

Surprise coverage of the Second-Annual Posse Car Club Car Show in Riverside

I spent most of Saturday out at the Midwest All Truck Nationals at the E.H. Young Park. While I was out there, my wife called me on her cell phone. She and my six-year-old son BHo had just arrived to see me.

"We're outside the park waiting to get in, but there's a train parked across the tracks," she said. "Oh, and we also stopped and took some pictures of--"

"Don't tell him!," I heard from the backseat.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Top car show tunes of all time. Ride, Mustang Sally, but remember, Deadman's Curve is no place to play

After attending a jillion car cruises and shows, I’ve noticed a pattern in the music that seems to be played when a disk jockey is present. I mean seriously, every single car show D.J. plays Mustang Sally. Every one of them! Here’s my list of the top most played car show songs.

Little Deuce Coupe. The Beach Boys. 1963. In many peoples’ eyes, this is the de facto standard car show tune. It was the Beach Boys at their best. Most of the song lyrics actually describe their hot rod in detail. All you have to hear is the two opening drum beats to know what’s coming. The song might have been played and played-out, but no other song is in as many car show D.J. record collections. And just one more thing—I’ve got the pink slip, Daddy.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Midwest All-Truck Nationals, Turkey Creek Show, Lakeside Points Championships. Kansas City car events for September 10, 11, 12

It seems like some of the biggest car events happen just as the season is starting to end. This is a pretty serious weekend in the Kansas City area.

The Midwest All-Truck Nationals in Riverside is always a monster event. The Turkey Creek Car Show in Merriam usually draws in a huge car count. And Lakeside Speedway in KCK is holding their series points championships on Friday night. Or if you're in the market to buy, the Branson Auto Auction is a really big sale if you want to take a drive.

Don't know where you want to go? Well here's a complete list to help you make up your mind.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

If you like car shows, but don't have a show car, how about a '72 El Camino for twenty bucks?

So you like car shows, but you drive a '90 Pontiac Sunbird with 200,000 miles and naturally ventilated floorboards. That's not exactly car show material, but a vintage muscle car is pretty much a budget-breaker.

Well, how would you like to own an awesome '72 El Camino for twenty bucks?

Twenty bucks?

Yeah, twenty bucks.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Round, round, get around, I get around.  I post up stories about a lot of different car things here, but one of the biggest commitments is the local car show scene.  I've compiled a list of links to stories from all kinds of car shows since I started this in June of 2009.  They all include a photo slideshow and information about what was going on there that day.

Whether you were at that show or wish that you could have been, this is a pretty nice archive of all the events I've covered.  Maybe your car is in the photos!  This also includes events that I wrote about on the Examiner, so if you click on those links, you'll be taken to that site.

I appreciate my family, especially my wife and son, for putting up with all these car show exploits, and even going with me to a majority of them. 

I'll continue to update this list with newer events at the bottom as I go along.  I hope you enjoy taking a look back at all the automotive fun that Kansas City has to offer!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Final Parkville Car Cruise of 2010 was nice, but sad at the same time

Since I'm a Parkville resident, it saddens me to report that the last downtown cruise night of the year was Saturday night. I have to admit, I enjoyed having one event that was five minutes from home, and I was starting to feel sort of a renewed connection with our historic downtown.

This weekend's cruise was up against some extraordinarily stiff competition. Of course, the Goodguys show was just letting out at the Kansas Speedway. The Greaserama show was packing them in at the Boulevard Drive-In. And there were one of a million different places where people could go to enjoy what turned out to be a gorgeous late-summer evening.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

2010 Greaserama Car Show was the polar opposite of the mainstream car show across town, and all the more fun for it

Labor Day weekend brings two pretty big car shows to the Kansas City area. The Goodguys Mid-Western Nationals at Kansas Speedway is the one everyone hears about, but there is another less-publicized gathering that's gaining some big traction.

The Greaserama Car Show is sort of the "anti-Goodguys" event. Instead of the shiny chrome and liquid-perfect paint that you would expect to see out at Kansas Speedway, there is more of a concentration of rust, primer, and, for lack of a better term, patina. One of the rules printed on the flyer is, "no billet crap."

Saturday, September 4, 2010

9th Annual Goodguys Mid-Western Nationals at Kansas Speedway was danged-near the perfect car show

Labor Day weekend is one of the biggest car show weekends of the year in Kansas City. Period. There were several events going on all over town, but the biggest was the 9th Annual Goodguys Mid-Western Nationals, held in the infield of Kansas Speedway.

The 2010 event was blessed from above with perhaps the most perfect weather ever bestowed on a car show. Mid-70s, bright sun, light breezes. It was a car show lover's dream.

And as usual, the cars were plenty dream-worthy as well. Honestly, the number of cars seemed a bit down to me compared to year's past, but that doesn't mean we didn't see some 1,500-2,000 cars out there.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Riverside Red X cruise night combines neat cars with a bizarre, but fun, shopping experience

The Red X store in Riverside, Mo., held a car cruise on Friday night, and they couldn't have had a better night for it. With temperatures hovering in the '70s, a beautiful sunset, and a lot full of car nuts, you couldn't have asked for a better place to start the long Labor Day weekend.

The Riverside Red X is kind of a fascinating place to go regardless. It's hard to really describe the store in two words, like "department store," or "liquor store," or "grocery store." It's a little bit of all of them. Really, the place is kind of strange, but in a good way. You just have to go there to understand what I mean.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Goodguys, punks, races, and rods. Kansas City Labor Day weekend car events for September 3, 4, 5

There are lots of great car events going on around town, but the 800-lb gorilla is the 9th Annual Goodguys Midwestern Nationals at the Kansas Speedway. This is one of, if not the biggest car show in the area all year. Look for more than 1,000 cars parked in every crack of the speedway.

Or, if you consider yourself a lone wolf, the Greaserama show at the Boulevard Drive-In might be more your cup of corn squeeze. Lots of traditional rods, rat rods, tattoos, bad movies, and girls in Betty Page outfits will help transport you into an alternate 1956 reality.

Meanwhile, if you like more go than show, give some of the local race tracks a try. Lakeside Speedway is having a big Tom Karrick Memorial Modified race on Friday. And Heartland Park is hosting a Super Chevy Show over the weekend.

Let’s take a look at the entire schedule of car events coming up this weekend.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The story behind the terrible old tools in the crusty metal box

Today we're going to talk about a beat-up old toolbox, and some old, worn out tools.

A few years ago, my dad gave me this ugly old toolbox for Christmas. When I first opened it up, I have to admit, I was a little confused, but dad seemed excited about it.

Back in the early 1960s, Chevrolet Motor Division had people that worked for them called Reconditioning Instructors. Back then, they'd drive around in fancy, factory-painted semi trucks, and set up a display to sell GM cleaning products like Multi-Purpose Powdered Cleaner and General Motors touch-up paint.