The Downtown Revival Car Show sponsored by the Carson City Esther Chapter #3 Order of the Eastern Star brought many car enthusiasts to the downtown on July 10. (Photo: Ronni Hannaman)
Summertime is when restored classic cars of yesteryear stored in garages over the winter are uncovered and lovingly polished from fender to fender to once again be ready to show why American teenagers growing up in the 1950s and 1960s had such a passion for cars.
Many car enthusiasts in Northern Nevada collect, restore, and show their treasured classics at regional car shows giving us a glimpse into a bygone era allowing us to relive the time when the kids were cool, and the cars were hot and the center of the universe for many teenage boys. Unlike today’s cookie cutter cars, each brand then was unique and easily identified.
Thirty-five years ago, Northern Nevada car enthusiasts decided to celebrate America’s love affair with cars by creating Hot August Nights in Reno to provide a glimpse into the “American Graffiti” era while raising money for local charities and boosting tourism. That once local party now draws over 800,000 enthusiasts to show, buy, and gawk.
Carson City too jumped on the classic car show bandwagon by starting Silver Dollar Car Classic drawing over 400 unique restored classic cars before ending in 2016. That’s the year the harder-edged Rockabilly Riot Show also came to the downtown.
In 2017, Carson City’s Esther Chapter #3 Order of the Eastern Star, under the direction of Sharon Grecian-Hoff, gathered about 25 enthusiastic volunteers to bring back a sequel to the Silver Dollar Car Classic renaming it Downtown Revival Car Show. The first year a total of 89 cars were entered in the show, and on July 10 this year 352 cars of all types, years, and sizes were on show in downtown Carson City.
Like Hot August Nights, one of the main purposes of the show is to support at least one Carson City charitable non-profit along with a veteran’s non-profit. Club President Ruth Fitzgerald chose to contribute $5,000 to Food for Thought and $5,000 to the Veterans Guest House in Reno.
The car show is one of the many fundraisers put on by the Carson City chapter, founded in 1869, to raise money for various charities. The 100-member chapter raises over $30,000 annually with $12,000 donated to the UNR Cancer Research Center last year and some to fund Shriner’s Children’s Hospitals in Northern California.
How did the relatively new Downtown Revival Car Show grow 25 percent in four years? Grecian-Hoff, a car enthusiast, and her husband attend as many car shows as they can distributing flyers to encourage attendance at the Carson City show. They advertise in magazines, on radio, post on Facebook, and create word-of-mouth buzz, all of which has paid off as the show continues to grow, this year attracting over 60 entries from out-of-state. She declares the show will not grow over 450 cars.
As a judge, I was able to not only view the amazing cars, but to overhear conversations amongst the owners and the viewers. One stated, “This show is so much better than Hot August Nights – there’s every kind of car!” Another declared, “I love seeing all the cars our family once owned – wish we had kept them!”
Set against the backdrop of the historic downtown with beloved rock tunes we still love today blaring from strategically placed amplifiers along Carson Street to set the mood, proud papas and mamas proudly regaled the history of their cars. Grecian-Hoff stated the city was very accommodating closing the street between Robinson and Fifth to allow every color and style of car its own unique space. Another goal of the show is to increase awareness of the revitalized downtown and the businesses.
Those of us who entered our teens in the 1950s and 1960s will remain teenagers at heart, no matter how old we get, and we’ll fondly remember the more innocent time.
You’re probably wondering what car I chose as the Chamber’s Choice? Why, a 1967 Mustang, of course, although the 1956 red and white Pontiac like my father once owned was a favorite as well.