Teri Vance: Car crazy in Carson | NevadaAppeal.com
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Teri Vance: Car crazy in Carson

Teri Vance
Jason Gardner competes in the newspaper toss during the End of Bike Week Party on Friday evening in McFadden Plaza.
Randy Gaa |

As cars have been coming into town for one of the three car shows going on this weekend, I’ve been playing a little game.

When I see classic cars go by the window of the Carson City Visitors Bureau, I’ll guess which show they’re a part of. Model T Fords go with the National T-Bucket Alliance, rat rods are part of the Rockabilly Riot and everything else belongs to the Karson Kruzers Run What Cha Brung.

Simple enough, right? You would think so, but I’m usually wrong. Even when I correctly identified a Model T, it turns out it was rat rod rather than restored to its classic form.

Normally, I wouldn’t concern myself with it. I’ve written stories about all of the car shows, not to mention the Extreme Motor Officer Challenge, which is a three-day training course for motorcycle cops. (So far, I’ve been able to accurately distinguish the motorcycles from the cars in the car shows).

Under typical circumstances, I would deem that coverage enough. But this year, I’ve got a husband, and he’s wild about cars of all kinds. He’s been looking forward to this weekend since we missed it last year for our honeymoon.

And I love him, so I want to see him happy. But the more I know about the subject matter, the happier I’ll be while indulging his interests. Fortunately, I’ve already learned a lot just through the process of writing about the shows.

To better understand the whole Rockabilly vibe, I asked Tommy Sampson who helps his dad, Paul Sampson, organize the Riot.

“Rockabilly isn’t just the way you dress, it’s a lifestyle,” he said. “From 1940-1960 music and hot rods. From greasy hair to cupped pants shirt sleeves rolled up. Rat rods are not just any car you find off the streets. You find parts and pieces in people’s yards and farms and junkyards out in the middle of nowhere. You’re building a car basically from scratch — finding parts and pieces of bodies that are all rusted and making a car come to life.”

I’m excited to see the different genres of cars for myself and to better understand what goes into making or restoring them. At the same time, I’m excited for what this means for Carson City.

Coming right on the heels of last weekend’s Carson City Off-Road, which brought thousands of visitors to the capital city, this collection of car shows and motorcycle races will be another draw to bring visitors in and give those of us who live here a reason to get out and experience our own community.

I’m looking forward to being out and about today, meeting new people, running into old friends and deepening my understanding of car culture.

Maybe the best part of the day will be the Gearhead Cruise along Carson Street starting at 6 p.m. when all of the shows come together to show off.

I hope to see you there!

Teri Vance is a journalist, freelance writer and native Nevadan. Contact her with column ideas at terivance@rocketmail.com.