Promoter rocks Carson City car show |

Promoter rocks Carson City car show

Teri Vance
Special to the Appeal
The seventh annual Rockabilly Riot runs Thursday through Sunday in Mills Park, including drag races, car shows and a pin-up contest. Photo by Brad Horn/Nevada Photo Source
Brad Horn | Nevada Photo Source

If you go

WHAT: Rockabilly Riot

WHEN: June 22-25

WHERE: Mills Park

INFORMATION: For a complete list of events, go to

Paul Sampson broke 27 bones in a stock car crash and knocked out 17 teeth, but the injuries did nothing to dull his passion.

“I’ll just always love cars,” he said.

He’s sharing that love with fellow gearheads during the seventh annual Rockabilly Riot on June 22-25 at Mills Park.

“This show is about the guys or girls who build and drive the cars,” Sampson said. “These cars are not trailer queens. Everybody, for the most part, drives in.”

Sampson started in the business as a stage hand, working concerts as well as car shows, including the Oakland Roadsters Show.

“That was the granddaddy of all Roadster shows,” he said. “At the time, I was working for 12 of the largest car shows in the country.”

After 30 years, he decided to go out on his own.

“I was working as the sound guy at the Grand Sierra Resort, and I told my kid I wanted to do a car show.”

His son, Tommy, suggested rat rods — custom built hot rods made in the most inexpensive, often unfinished-looking manner.

He started Rockabilly Riot in Reno nine years ago. After three years, he and his business partner parted ways leaving Sampson to carry on the show under A-Bomb Entertainment with the help of his son. Last year, he moved the show to Carson City.

“It was a little slow last year, but this year is picking up,” Sampson said. “It’s something we want to keep going here for the next 10-15 years. Carson City understands and celebrates the car culture.”

Rockabilly Riot will kick off the weekend on a Thursday and run through Sunday in Mills Park, coinciding with the T-Buckets Car Show, featuring Model-T cars, and the Wild West Motor Officer Challenge, a motorcycle obstacle course for law-enforcement officers. All of the shows will be in Mills Park, with a fourth show, Karson Kruzers Run What Cha Brung, in Fuji Park.

All participants will join in a cruise June 24 at 6 p.m. down Carson Street from College Parkway to the Nevada State Railroad Museum.

“For us, the more cars downtown the better,” Sampson said. “I’ll have 600 cars at my end.”

The Battle Born Harley Pin-Up Contest with Goldie Golden will be 7 p.m. June 24 at the Pony Express Pavilion. The winner gets $1,000.

Sampson said the outlaw culture permeates the pin-up contest as well, attracting a variety of women.

“They don’t have to look like typical models,” Sampson said. “The winners come in all sizes and all different looks.”

As a member of the board of directors of the N2M2, a coalition of area car shows, Sampson said he wants to improve the industry for everyone.

“We’re trying to enhance the shows in Nevada to make them bigger and better,” he said.

Rockabilly Riot, he said, will meet that standard.

“There will be music, dancing, guys and girls with tattoos, hair slicked back,” he said. “There will be killer motorcycles and cool car games. A real party atmosphere.”