• Wis Outdoor Explorer

5 Tips for a Better Car Show Experience

Car shows are a great way to step back in time.

I’ve always loved cars. When I was a kid, I played around the house with my toy cars. I always helped my dad work on his cars and have always been around motorsports. That love increased as soon as I got my license and bought my first truck, which I still own today, a 1971 Chevrolet pickup. But my dream car has always been a 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air convertible. I love everything about that car. The look, the style and the chrome. It’s a car that stands above all other cars.

I also grew up learning about the muscle car era. It’s a time that my Dad grew up in and he is always willing to share stories of friends racing friends to see whose car was the best. The muscle car era, in my opinion was the last great era of cars. It showcased the power and style that most cars lack today. So seeing on of these classic cars on the road today is always a treat and garners a turn of the head each and every time one drives by.

These are the cars that really got me interested in car shows. I love walking the rows and rows of classic cars and trucks. Peeking into the windows and imagining what it was like to drive a car from different era. Car shows are a great way to get up and personal with these American classics. Talking with owners is a great way to learn their history and what it took to restore them to better than showroom quality.

Attending a car show is also a great way to get outdoors and see Wisconsin. Car shows are held during the late spring up through early fall. There’s really no better time to get out and enjoy the Wisconsin weather and see some great cars. But what if you’ve never been to a car show, what should you do or look for when you’re there. I’m going to give you 5 tips to help you enjoy going to a car show.

The muscle car era, is something we'll never see in the auto industry again.

1. Look But Don’t Touch

It’s a phrase we’ve heard many times as children as we walked through a department store. It’s a phrase that still holds true when it comes to car shows. Most of the participants showing off their beauties spend countless hours cleaning, wiping and polishing their cars in order to show them. They love showing off their prized positions. But rule number one is you can look all you want but please don’t touch. They work too hard making these cars look as good as they do. They really don’t need viewers climbing into the seats with dirty hands and shoes or touching every piece of well-polished chrome as we pass by. It’s really the most courteous thing you can do. Also if you’re bringing your children, don’t let them climb all over a truck bed or bumper. It’s a great opportunity to teach them to respect the work someone else has done. After all, we wouldn’t go into and art museum and touch all the paintings and sculptures would we?

2. Ask Questions

One thing you learn quickly about car people, is that they love talking about their cars. They love talking about where they got it, what they did to fix it up and maybe memories of why this vehicle is important to them. Most owners hang around their vehicle all day, making themselves available to answer any questions you may have. If you have a question about something you’ve never seen before or how something works, ask. Car shows are and interactive event, so don’t be afraid to interact with the owners.

3. Arrive Halfway Through the Event

I know I’ll catch some flak for this one from organizers of events but hear me out. Unless you’re going to a show that spans multiple days, like Iola, most car shows are single day events. They typically run from 10-3pm. Some spectators come for the whole day if there are enough cars and other things to do. But my experience has shown me the best times to go are usually a few hours after the event has started. If you go as soon as the event starts, you may miss a few of the cars that are still coming in. If you go to late and don’t get through all the cars, they may start leaving before you can see them. Plus, if you go closer to the lunch hour, there are typically food stands set up supporting local clubs and organizations. I’ve found a few hours after the event starts, give you the perfect amount of time to see all the cars and trucks, grab something to eat and not have rush to see all the cars before they leave.

You'll find cars, truck and even motorcycles and most car shows.

4. Participate

Did you know that you can be a part of most car shows? Most car shows offer spectators the chance to vote for their favorite car or truck. Shows like to break down the vehicles into classes based on year and modifications. When you get to the show, you’ll have to find the area where participants sign in their cars. They will typically have a form that you can fill out and decide which vehicle was, in your mind, the best in that class. It adds a bit more fun to going to the show. You can help decided who has the best car for each class and even the best car in the whole show. You can even stick around until the end and see if your car won as they hand out the awards and prizes.

5. Take Your Time

The best piece of advice that I can give is to take your time. The car owners spent a lot of time fixing, cleaning and polishing their vehicles so that you could enjoy them. A great way to show them you care is to take your time when looking. You don’t need to stop at each and every car and look them over, but just appreciate the work that’s gone into restoring these classics. Listen to their stories and share some that you may have as well.

I hope these tips become useful to you for when you go to your first show. Car shows are not only a good way to see some great cars and trucks, but also to see different parts of Wisconsin, meet some interesting people and support local organizations. Whether you’re into classic cars or not, make plans to visit as least one car show this year as you head out to be one of Wisconsin’s Outdoor Explorers.

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