Ceating a brand-new car show is a combination of art and science. To be successful, the event has to be enjoyable, with innovative entertainment that fits your definition of fun. It also has to be carefully orchestrated so that the production is seamless between arrival and the final awards ceremony. Finally, if car and truck shows are your business, it can't be a one-time success. You have to create an action-packed weekend that will keep drivers coming back year after year. Bryan Pierce, general manager of Virginia Motorsports Park, along with Mike and Glenn Pilgreen, owners of Drop Jaw Mag, held their first Big Show in 2003, and refined their approach even more in 2004.
Like most successful events, the Big Show began with a simple idea: variety in entertainment had the best chance of success. Going on the assumption that too much of a good thing was just about right, the show promoters decided on a four-in-one format, providing something for everyone. At check-in, the welcoming team gave arriving drivers the option of parking in one of four parking areas set aside for trucks, imports, 4X4s, or motorcycles. (You also had the option of staying together with your club.) That meant you could park with and inspect your favorite vehicle type, then just a short walk away, you could see what the other groups were doing. Naturally, we spent lots of time in the truck lanes, checking out some of the hottest East Coast rides.
Since competition is an essential part of any event for many owners, judging is a critical factor. With more than 40 years of show experience between them, Bryan, Mike, and Glenn knew that lots of drivers don't care for drive-thru judging, spending hours waiting in line. At the Big Show, the talented crew from the North Carolina and Virginia chapters of Twisted Koncepts judged all the vehicles in place while the owners were off enjoying themselves. Intelligent options like this, along with the low entry fee that included free camping inside the park, were just the beginning.
Contests during the weekend show included all the standard events we are used to, along with several new levels of excitement. One of the first differences was that Virginia Motorsports Park has a sanctioned quarter-mile dragstrip. Opening at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday for test and tune, it was a treat for spectators and also an opportunity to see just how well your show truck will haul. Between races, half-time activity included the motorcycle stunt riders from Team X-Treem, who impressed the fans with their two-wheeled craziness. Even the stereo guys got into the quarter-mile fun, with the MECA-sponsored Boom and Zoom contest that required a low e.t. and a high SPL number to win.
Moving from the track to the display area, the spectators enjoyed the Big Show's slow cruise. Cruising is often not allowed at other shows, but you get it your way at the Big Show. Drivers circled the huge Virginia Motorsports parking area, enjoying the ride and entertaining the spectators who lined up to see the rolling car show. As an added bonus, the girls riding inside and dancing in the beds got a chance to add to their bead collection.
Evening activity began with teams of body-draggin', spark-throwing trucks, flying down the dragstrip, competing to see who could become the most entertaining chariot of fire. The late-night neon contest also shed new light on the situation, providing a quiet moment before the real spectator adventures began. The bikini contest occurred on the main stage, with some of the South's finest ladies looking to capture the trophy and cash. The wet T-shirt contest followed, with a local fire truck acting as the girls' limousine, a thoughtful precaution in case the rising temps became too much for the crowd. The late-night party at the campgrounds is an event most look forward to all year long, with the no-curfew excitement continuing until dawn.
Sunday's action included mini-bikers storming down the track, entertaining the folks in the stands, and trying to cover the quarter in less than 40 seconds. The burnout contest was an exercise in controlled mayhem, with drivers trying to outdo each other in the art of smoke-screen fabrication. Hydraulic exhibitions and air dancing maintained the nonstop action, followed by 4X4 truck pulls. If you weren't already worn-out from all the excitement, you could head to the afternoon awards ceremony, where hundreds of drivers listened for their names, hoping to take home some gold along with great memories of the Big Show weekend.
In addition to a dozen specialty awards, winners of the four categories (Car, Truck, 4X4, and Bike) received a trophy and $250 in cash. Best Club Participation and Best Representation went to Virginia's Streamline chapters. Kim and Mike Rossi captured Best Truck of Show with their lifted Ford Excursion, while Jackie and Bonnie Christian took Best 4X4 of Show with their immaculate Jeep CJ-7. The overall Best Vehicle in Show award went to a crowd favorite, the supercharged '40 Ford street-rod truck owned by Bruce Suggs of Fayetteville, North Carolina. Bruce drove off with the huge 6-foot-tall trophy stowed carefully in the bed - and the check for $500 stuffed neatly in his pocket.
More than 3,200 spectators and exactly 700 show vehicles made the Second Annual Big Show a resounding success. Check out the Web site (www.dropjawmag.com) for more information on this annual get-together. Get plenty of rest between now and then because show promoters Bryan, Glenn, and Mike promise the next show will be even bigger.