Car Shows - Useless?Written by Stephen Dunsford
Just the other day I was speaking with the a local business owner about cars. The subject was about car shows and he dropped a comment which took me by surprise. He had stated that the idea of attending a car show as being a bit daft. Instantly, I thought was is this guy thinking? Yet, as I think about it, the thought does have merit!
If you whittle down the concept of an automobile to its most fundamental level you end up with a machine that essentially transports things from one point to another easily and quickly. It is more efficient to use a vehicle than picking it up and carrying it yourself. Sometimes these “things” are heavy or you will need to move them at great distances or you need it somewhere else faster than hauling it by hand. Vehicles are best suited for moving things like people and cargo.
At a car show automobiles are parked. This defeats their purpose. This is not how autos are supposed to be used. To get a true appreciation of a machine it must be seen doing what it does best.
Granted, there is more to consider than the auto being merely for transportation only. Cars are art. There is a social aspect to the automobile. A car can be used as a form of expression. These are all appreciated at a show and that is the purpose of the car show. Yet, I cannot help but wonder at the near futility of looking at parked cars in a lot.
It is not like racing. Cars are fulfilling their design at a race event. In drag racing, the car is transporting a thing- a person- from one place to another very quickly. A rally spans across a vast distance. An endurance race tests a vehicle efficiency. There are many variations of a vehicles purpose that are used in racing.
While a car is shut off and parked one misses out on an important factor in automotive appreciation: its sound. This is an important sense for us humans! To hear the guttural roar of a ten-second muscle car, the throaty growl of a properly tuned Subaru, the potato, potato, potato of a Harley Davidson at idle or an angry hornet sound emanating from a Formula 1 Race car at full acceleration are truly visceral experiences.
Smells play an important and relevant part in automotive fandom too. Some people live for the sweet smell of nitro exhaust and burning vulcanized rubber. You are not going to get this if the car is not running.
Shows Do Have Purpose
I love car shows. As a media creator, this is a perfect place to see cars up close and have time to take in the details of each and every car. I can speak with the owner, meet with others like me and I can do it all in one convenient location. I also appreciate the look, styling and the varieties of the cars. Even when it is sitting still, anyone can get a sense of a vehicle's ability of moving quickly, its aptitude for hauling heavy cargo or its ability to traverse any terrain. Car shows and cruise-ins have their place.
The individuality of each vehicle speaks volumes. Owners personalize their rides to such a degree that cannot be seen from any a racetrack's grandstand seating. To get a good sense of what the owners have done you must be able to stand next to the car to see everything done.
The camaraderie between motorheads, speed junkies and grease monkeys is something to behold. Even the rivalries between owners and clubs are fun and exciting. You do get an idea of it at racing events, but you can see it up close and personal in the relaxed environment of a show. To speak to a driver at a car show is a heckuva lot easier than trying to talk to him in the pits of a racetrack.
Even though it could be argued car shows lack a certain appeal to some folks, it is undeniable that shows and cruises are an extremely necessary and purposeful addition to the automotive community. The old adage applies: "To each his own." It is not wrong that some see only futility in car shows. In fact, the meeting with this business owner was about his shop hosting a show and it promises to be a great one! No one can fault him for this notion and he may just change his song after his event. In the meantime, enjoy the shows. Go to the races. No matter what you do, do it to keep the local automotive community strong.
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