Car Show Planning 101
I could assume one reason you are here in the Toolbox section of the Speedway Motors website is because like most of us, YOU LOVE CARS! When you have the “car bug” you tend to go to car shows or racing events quite regularly. We often have other car friends and family close to us. Some of the best memories you have may come from some kind of auto event or in my case, a car show!
A few of the coolest car shows I have been to are ones that aren’t commonly heard of. These car shows are not like others and throw several twists to the conventional car show you are accustomed to attending. Car shows like Greaserama, Torque fest and Iron Invasion are a few that come to mind where I have the greatest memories from.
We have all been to car shows or events and maybe thought, “I would like to throw a big party like this with a bunch of like-minded individuals. I want to see all the old cars in one common area and have some fun!” Maybe this has been in your thoughts for a while and you are wondering how to begin.
I have been involved with organizing a car show for the past six years and I think I can help get your party started. These tips don’t necessarily have to be for vintage vehicles. You can use these tips for all kinds of things including; charities, fundraisers and even just a smaller sized bash with your close friends and family.
When thinking of how you are going to tackle event planning there are a few key things to making it successful. First, if you plan to grow the event, it takes TIME! Very rarely are there events that just blow up overnight. Next is that careful planning is key, but you must not get your hopes or expectations up to high because I can tell you that those expectations may fall short. If you have it in your heart that this is going to be a Downtown New York style New Year’s Eve type of event with that kind of attendance it just may not happen your first year, your second year or in my case this car show took almost four years to really become known. And on our 5th year in 2018 we may have just bit off a little more than we can chew.
The first thing that is important to determine is the venue in which you will hold your event. The venue really tells all. Are you having an event in a parking lot, drag strip or drive in theatre? The venue can also make or break your attendance, depending on the weather and especially if it is outside! I feel that events held outside are the best, mostly because we are crammed inside all winter. But that’s only of course if the weather is nice!
Being in Nebraska we know that the weather can change minute by minute. Every single year we have held our car show it has rained the week before, and one year it even rained the morning of our first day! We had people who brought kayaks to our car show and were paddling in them down the center of where we were going to have our show cars parked. This was pretty funny, but also a little disheartening as we had put a ton of work and planning into this car show. Thankfully the next day, which was Saturday, and the main day, the sun came out and all the stars aligned. This made for an awesome weekend of fun and super sweet old cars with multiple runs down the drag strip.
Once you have decided on a venue and find out what’s available for a schedule, you can pick the time of year to hold your event. This is also one of the most difficult things to plan for as there are always so many things going on, especially in the summer. Finding a time frame that works is going to be something that may require careful calculating.
We chose to have our event at the end of the year as there are usually less things going on. Whichever dates you pick, stick to them, and if you can keep the dates around the same time each year people will get familiar with the dates of your car show or event. One main thing about scheduling is that your timeline should work for as many people as possible. You want to have an event that has a timeline people can plan to take off work, or even better do it on a weekend day so your attendees are more likely to show up.
Once you have a venue and a time locked in you can start to get the word out! This can be difficult if you want to tell people of all ages. Anyone can sit on the computer and send out messages and artwork over the internet or Facebook. It takes real work to get out there and get your hands dirty. If you can get some artwork made for a flyer and get them printed up, your best bet is to put those flyers in people’s hands.
People read all kinds of things over the internet and in my opinion, none of it sticks quite like a paper flyer with good artwork. They can put it on their fridge, toolbox or show their friends and family. These are the people that will come to the show and make plans to attend. The more you get to shows and other related events, the better. If you work hard, your event will easily spread by word of mouth.
One thing to ensure your event will grow is to do things at your show that set this event apart from the others. Our car show has multiple things that usually bring people back year after year. The first is that you can drag race! You are able to run your vintage vehicle down the strip pretty much all day. The second thing is that we give out over a dozen of handmade super cool trophies that are made out of junk car parts. They often get pinstriped and customized to finish them off. Another part that I really love about Rustemberfest is that you can also camp out at this event. You can party all day and all night, then wake up and do it again the next day!
Among the things mentioned above there are really two major takeaways that make this event worth planning and executing every year. Number one is that we give back to the Hope for the Warriors and exclusively “The Warriors Wish program”. Our proceeds help give back to those Veterans who gave up everything for us. What they gave up allows us to be able to do the things we do on a daily basis. Our proceeds help Veterans get the things they deserve to help better their family’s daily lives.
Number two is that we have events for children. We want to keep this hobby and way of life going strong for decades. One way to ensure this happens is to involve the children and positively influence them in the Hot Rod Culture. We have multiple events at our show like Hot Wheels racing, Big Wheel racing and shirts that children can paint up on the spot. The smiles I have seen out of some of those children at our car show along would melt your heart!
Planning this event will come with a little stress, but don’t let that outweigh the fun you have or it will quickly become a hassle you don’t want to deal with. Above all have FUN and smile! If you involve the children, have fun and give back, you will never regret the work you put into it!