So you want to put on a great car show ?



So you want to put on a car show you say.      Be prepared for a lot of hard work, lots of rewards, lots of "why didn't you" and "I think you should have done it this way"  and " I could have done it better."  We receive many inquires on how to put on a car show or event, so we thought we would supply an overview of how to proceed.   Most of the information contained in this article is based on a one day event,  so if you are planning a two or three day event most of this information will still be applicable, but you may want to add a barbeque, dance, cruise/poker runs, valve cover races,  etc.

If you are not familiar with the hotrod and classic car community,  the one thing you should keep in mind above all other, is that you are asking people that have HUGH investments tied up in their vehicles to come and display them at your event for what ever reason you are planning on sponsoring a car show for,    so you should try and  make your event worth their time and investment.     There can easily be millions of dollars represented at a single event.  You may want to write a waiver of responsibility on the registration form and if you have the money,    look into a blanket insurance policy for participants in case of vehicle damage not covered by their own insurance.

There are literally hundreds of events in any given community every year that car people have a choice to attend and if you want them to come to your show, you are going to have to make sure your show is more interesting, entertaining and fun in order to garnish your share of these enthusiasts and to keep them coming back if you are planning having an annual events.    To that end, the follow hints and tips may help you organize a show to remember.  You can go full throttle and incorporate all of the ideas, or throttle back and pick some of the ones that appeal to you and the purpose for your show.  If your show is for charity, you will find most enthusiasts will help out by attending if the cause is just.   If you are promoting an event for commercial gain, you best be prepared to pull out all the stops and provide the best.


Advertise your event or show through local media as often and as much as you can garnish or afford. Most local news media will give you free air time or space in their paper if your club is doing the show for charity. If you are a commercial venture you will be required to pay for this advertising.  Make up a flyer describing your event for distribution to as many participants as you can find.    The flyer should reflect what the show will entail, what costs are involved,  if any and what the enthusiast will receive for their money.  The flyer can incorporate an registration form or you can have a separate form for this purpose.          Pre-registration can be  a useful thing as it helps you determine how many cars will be attending and allows you to plan appropriately.    Offer incentives for pre-registering.  Register your event with us on this site for free so people can check out event information with you.      You can register your event  or show for free on this site at this link  


Plan on having period music played throughout the event and throw in a little new stuff once in a while.  This keeps the event active and you will need access to a PA system to make announcements anyway.    Please don't go Mickey Mouse on the sound system,  there is nothing worse then a sound system that sounds like a  K-Mart Paging system  or  a Mickey D's drive through, such systems are just out right annoying.  If you want to go more elaborate, have a three or four piece band playing that can deal with period music and PLEASE listen to the band at another show prior to laying down your money and check with them if you will be able to  use their PA for announcements on occasion during the show.

Many car enthusiast bring their children to these events and it is really cool and beneficial to have entertainment for the kids as well.  When kids start whining as kids tend do about being bored,  most likely their parents will leave the show to take them to a place of more interest to them and there goes some of your entrants.  You can have coloring contests for different age groups with kid prizes to third place and make sure you have plenty of crayons available so there is no fighting over colors.  Crayons can be used for several events before they are shot.  Provide the kids with black and white pictures of cars and hotrods to color and flame up if they wish.  Have a scavenger hunt and have prizes for the prettiest bug, the biggest bug and the ugliest bug ... use you imagination here and think like a kid.   Face painting is always a big hit with kids.  Have assigned adults that will be responsible  and supervise the kids  to keep them busy and safe, that way their parents can enjoy the show and will come back next year.


Determine if you are going to qualify your event by year.  If you are,  pick a cutoff year such as Pre 1960 (which means 1959 or older) or you may choose to have an open show or event  which means basically anything on wheels is allowed to participate.  Be careful with that one, you may have vehicles you were not prepared to deal with.  Have registration forms at the show for non pre-register enthusiasts to fill out.  Make sure there are plenty of pens to fill out forms.  You will also need placards for the entrants to put in their windows and again have Sharpie Felt Pens to fill the placards out.  They should have space for the entrants name, make, model and year of their car and what entry number they are.  

They should also have translucent double side tape attached to the information side of the placard so they can be placed on the inside of the windshield so the information can be seen from outside.  This double sided tape can be obtained at any good stationary store.

Place small circular stickers (about the size of a quarter and available at stationary stores) either florescent orange, red or green on the drivers side head light so you can keep track of who has registered and paid and who hasn't.  This also is convenient if an entrant has to leave the show for a short time for some reason, so when they come back, you can just usher them right back in without a hassle.

A nice touch is to make "Look But Don't Touch" cards" available to the entrants.  We have reflected a basic placard that an entrant would place in their car windshield. and some "please don't touch" ideas.  You can be as fancy as you want with graphics or not.  Most people have access to a computer to make cool placards and don't touch signs and then just Photostat as many copies as you need or have your local printer do them up for a more professional look.  Sometimes they may do them for free or at low cost if they can advertise their business as part of the cards wording.   We have found that blank recipe cards work well and they are very in-expensive and stiffer then paper.


Road Warriors Show and Shine
 Vehicle # 149


Enjoy viewing my car, but
please...... don't touch


Unless your naked
please  don't touch !


It is best to have identified attendants dealing with parking of the entrants and public.  Spacing for entrants should allow for entrants to open their doors without even coming close to hitting the car beside them.  This also allows the public that may be pushing strollers etc. plenty of room to get between the parked cars on display.  Allow companion travelers to park beside each other, it makes for happier entrants and happy entrants are returning entrants.  A word of caution, you should absolutely forbid bicycles within the display area, we have seen more cars damage from this source than any other.


It has long been traditional to hand out goodie bags to entrants when they register, but we feel that unless you are going to put useful or really cool stuff in these 'goodie' bags, most enthusiast have had all the key fobs, pens and city maps they can handle, but this is a judgment call on your part.


Door Prizes for the entrants are a good thing and the best way to deal with them is by draw.  Many local companies will donate prizes if their name is to mentioned during the course of the event.  In all cases, donated prizes should mention the supplier when the prize is awarded.  All the participant's car entry numbers (duplicates) are entered into a barrel and drawn throughout the event and announced over the PA.  It is a good idea to have a white board to write the winners car numbers on the white board in case they did not hear their number being called. 

This also allows you to write messages for participants as well.  Prizes can consist of various car related items such as wash buckets and mitts, polishes, waxes, chamois, body squeegees, small jacks, battery chargers, stereo's etc.  Use your imagination here and the cost is entirely up to you on what value you want to set on prizes.    Please do not use local  gift certificates for say, a free oil change or tire rotation that can only be redeemed in your city.  

Many entrants come hundreds of miles to join in your show and don't want to drive back at a later date for an oil change.   If you have one final grand slam prize to be drawn that is obviously of greater importance and value then all the others, we feel all the participants numbers should go back into the barrel for that draw.  It is always wise to let John Q Public or one their kids draw prize numbers. 


We have mixed feeling on trophies, so if you want to use them, fill your boots.  You can have trophies to 3rd place in several categories if you wish.  Best finish, best upholstery, best unfinished, best detailing, best paint etc.  As far as who picks these winners is again up to you.  You can have Mayor's choice, Police Department, etc. if you want to involve local governing agencies or you can have the people attending your event do the judging.  

Be a little careful here, if you involve the public, it is easy to have ballot stuffing on your hands.  The best you can do here is to have alert people taking in the ballots, to be on the outlook for this kind of activity, although we like to think that in general,  this type of activity is low or non existent.  Trophies would be one of the final stages of your event or show. An alternative to trophies are plaques.  See more about trophies at the end of this page.


All car enthusiasts like to eat at events for some reason, and they appreciate a QUALITY food source at the site.  Check with some of your local service clubs,  many of them have portable kitchens and are more then happy to show up and sell hamburgers and stuff to further their cause and this alleviates the responsibility of setting up your own food source.


If there are washroom facilities on site, still consider adding port-a-potties, you have to remember as well as participants, the public will be wanting to use these facilities and nothing upsets people more than waiting in line.  If their are no washroom facilities add even more portables and have the service that supplies them check them frequently for cleanliness and to ensure they are properly equipped.  You don't need people hassling you about getting these units cleaned and serviced..... you will be plenty busy dealing with lots of other stuff.


A truly successful event cannot possibly be put in place by one person, no way, no how, nada, nope, negatory, zilch, never and it won't happen.  GET HELP !!!!!   Make sure who ever you solicit help from is 100% committed to doing their part and you will succeed.  If they are not willing to give their all, than look elsewhere for volunteers.


This is not a must, but it helps to pass the time with the entrants and for those that do not participate, they find the antics amusing.  As far as what games, well that's up to you. 


A excellent way for clubs to raise money for charities or club commitments is to have a raffle and the most popular is the 50/50 draw.  Purchase a roll or rolls of double tickets and sell them to the entrants and public.  All the stubs are put in a barrel or bucket and drawn when the tickets are all sold or until you can sell no more.  Have someone from the public draw the winning ticket (preferably a child) and the winner gets 50% of what was collected and the club retains the other 50% and everyone wins.  The tickets can sell for what ever amount you wish, but offer a free bonus ticket on larger purchases.  You may want to check with local, state, provincial or federal laws that may apply to this type of raffle and ensure it is legal in your part of the world.  Most local authorities turn a blind eye to this kind of activity.


For those of you that have the time and resources, you can also sell tickets to an engine blow up.  Basically either an old Junker car is brought to the site, or a engine on a stand and the throttle is held wide open until the engine dies.  The engine is timed and when it quits running the time is noted.  The closest ticket to that time wins.  Again you can sell tickets on this using the last three digits as the time.  eg: ticket # 1012347 The last 3 digits are 347 or 3 minutes and 47 seconds.  

These tickets are placed in a container prior to selling them, and when a purchase is made, that person reaches into the container and draws a ticket. This is basically a luck of the draw setup, but it makes for some pretty exciting interest especially with the public..        A word or two of caution, although we have never actually seen a engine blowup,   the possibility is always present, so keep the crowd back.  All the engines we have ever seen tortured in this fashion end up seizing up rather then blowing up. 

Finally, if you are going to pursue an engine blow up, built a simple 2x4 frame and line it with plastic and park  the car on top of this or the engine stand.       A fair amount of anti freeze and  oil can spew from an over revved and over heated engine.    You can use single roll tickets for this, as the winner would be required to relinquish their ticket in order to win and they should be a different color in order to avoid confusion.


- Have a first aid kit available (These also make great prizes)
- Have a set of jumper cables and battery available (more great gift ideas)
- Have a set of hand tools available
- Have a 1 gallon container of gas available


Usually if the show is a two or three day event,  prizes and trophy's are handed out the last day and are part and partial of the saying of goodbye's to your entrants and usually the last day is not open to the public, but this is not written in stone. 

If you are having a week end show, It works great if you have your staff take the prizes to the seated contestants because many times they are sandwiched between rows of chairs and it is difficult for them to get out. Kids make great runners for this purpose.  Just have them take the prize to the front rows and they can pass it back if required.  You would use the car registration numbers in this case as well for handing out prizes. 

For trophy awards, the winners should be notified ahead of time, so they know they will be required to come up to claim their trophy and they can be prepared for this.  The do not have to be told what they won, (surprises are good) just that they have won and you can announce what they are winning the trophy for during the presentations. 

Even better is have the winners park their vehicles in a "winners circle/row"  beside the area where the trophies are to be presented so everyone can see the vehicles that won.   Some events will have the owners drive their cars up in front of the presentation area for all to see, but a word of caution ....   this can take a long time to complete, and  most of the entrants would like to get on the road for home, especially if they have a long way to drive.

A very cool thing to do in a weekend show of two or three days is have all of the event workers (or at least the executive) stand in a line on the drivers side of the vehicles leaving and say goodbye to the entrants as they leave.  Shaking hands as they leave is a great way to say thank you for coming and a great time to get feedback on your event and makes the entrants feel they were appreciated and wanting to come back next year..

Well if we haven't scared you off yet, jump in and get both feet wet, have a really great time and event and send us pictures of your event and we will post them in their very own gallery, this information is worth that much at least we think...................