Although you might not spend much time thinking about it, show promoters have a tough job. To attract a bigger crowd, they have to come up with fresh ideas that will appeal to an increasingly diverse group of enthusiasts. Organize a show where everyone sits around in a hot parking lot from check-in until the awards ceremony, and you can count on a poor showing the next time. Variety is vital if you want people to return.
Virginia car enthusiasts have it almost as good as Florida and California, with lots of shows year-round. So, what do promoters do to make their events stand out? Bryan Pierce, the general manager of Virginia Motorsports Park in Dinwiddie, Virginia, teamed up with Glen and Mike Pilgreen. Their collective goal was to create the biggest and best show of the year. The first annual event exceeded their expectations by a gratifying margin, and their second event was even better in June 2004.
The show was billed as a four-in-one event, with reserved areas for trucks, 4X4s, cars, and motorcycles. You could park with the group you were most interested in and examine all the rest from just a short distance away. Of course, the show promoters are true enthusiasts and understand that events such as this are designed for having fun with your friends. Therefore, club members were allowed to park all their vehicles together if they chose to. The judging was fast and efficient, with the North Carolina and Virginia chapters of Twisted Koncepts making the process painless and allowing attendees to quickly get to the fun.
Most folks enjoy action entertainment, and there was plenty to see at the Big Show. You could convert your show tickets to a track pass and spend the afternoon on the Virginia Motorsports Park's sanctioned quarter-mile dragstrip. Prefer to just watch? The racers entertained the crowd, as did the Team X-Treem motorcycle stunt crew, defying a little gravity in return for applause. Like to cruise? It's not often allowed, but the promoters of the Big Show are in touch with their audience, so cruisin' was encouraged. Many of the 700 competitors enjoyed circling the huge display area, showing off their rides to the approval of the crowd. Plenty of food vendors and manufacturers provided another option for the more than 3,200 spectators.
Late-night fun is a specialty of Glen and Mike Pilgreen. Involved with the long-running Slam Session and producers of Freak Show, this pair knows what its automotive audience wants. Starting quietly with the soft lights of the evening neon contest and progressing to the drag-and-brag sparking contest down the strip, things moved rapidly to the bright lights of the bikini and wet T-shirt contests. Plenty of girls came away with buckets of beads before the night was over. To many participants, the no-curfew after-party in the Virginia Motorsports Park Campground (free to competitors) was a highlight of the event.
Sunday saw a continuation of the nonstop fun, with mini-bike riders showing their racing skills as they made super-slow 40-second runs down the track (break out the hourglass, Bryan). The 12-vehicle burnout competition was a crowd pleaser, with its huge cloud of smoke and rubber dust, as were the hydraulic exhibition and air dancing that rounded out the track-side entertainment. New to this year's show was the 4X4 pull-off, with the big guys showing what torque and traction are all about. The awards ceremony sent more than 350 drivers home with trophies and cash, tangible reminders of the Big Show's great weekend of fun. Best of Show winners in each of the four categories received a trophy and $250 in cash. The overall Best of Show winner, Bruce Suggs and his beautiful '40 Ford street-rod truck, was happiest of all when he received a check for $500 and a trophy for his efforts. The sharp-looking chapters of Virginia's Streamline Car Club showed their strength by capturing both the Club Participation award and Best Club Representation award, taking a pair of 5-foot trophies back home. For more information on next year's event, contact Big Mike at (252) 439-0009.