I know the feeling - two months ago I took "Big Red", my gorgeously restored 1957 300C convertible to the biggest annual car show in Las Cruces, the second-largest city in New Mexico, sponsored by the local Kiwanis Club. I understand there were over 250
cars entered that day, filling up the largest park in the city. "Big Red" was entered in the "Classic" division - cars over 25 years old. (Other categories were "Custom", "Rat Rod", "Low Rider", "Hot Rod", "Vintage - pre-war", "Foreign", "Sound System" and
"Motorcycle". The owner of the shop who did the restoration on my car also brought a VERY nice 1955 Ford truck, but although there were nearly a dozen other trucks entered, there was not even a "Truck" division! There were quite a few late-model cars in
the "Custom" category, often sporting nothing more than a fancy metalflake paint job, bigger rims, an add-on supercharger, etc. If they'd have created a "Corvette" or "Mustang" class, there would have been a dozen entries in each!
I had made up two big 36" x 48" storyboards describing the 300C specifications, production numbers, etc, and also the individual history of the car, which was purchased by my Father in 1968 for $750, restored mostly by him and my uncle (and Gary Goers!),
and shown nationally throughout the mid-1970's and 1980's, garnering dozens of trophies - I even laid out many of Dad's trophies and plaques, carefully explaining that these were from HIS generation (he passed away in 1996 and the car was dormant until 2012)
and did not reflect the recently completed 5-year meticulously researched and executed professional restoration effort. I told lots of fun stories about this car's personal history, showed people many obscure details (including the copy of Gil Cunningham's
IBM card "birth certificate"), and got lots of big smiles, glowing accolades and fun talk with general public and other exhibitors. But not a single official person ever came to talk to me (Kiwanis officials all had their nice Club vests on), nobody was
seen to be actually inspecting or critically judging any cars or interviewing exhibitors all day long. I had absolutely NO idea who was officially judging ANY of the cars! Toward the end of the event, I passed by the booth with a "People's Choice Award"
banner, where I found that the so-called "People's Choice" award (separate from the other specific classes) would be determined by counting "votes" cast by anyone - exhibitors, general public spectators or Kiwanis Club personnel - who purchased a ticket for
$1.00, wrote the exhibitor number for the car they liked on the back and dropped it into the single box there at the booth. People could purchase as many tickets as they liked, to "stuff the ballot box" for their favorite! What a farce!
Bottom line was the "Classic" division was won by a beautiful resto-mod 1955 Chevy Nomad with a supercharged LS motor, chrome everywhere, disc brakes, 19-inch wheels, 16-speaker sound system, etc. "Big Red" got nary a mention (trophies went down to third
place). "People's Choice" went to a wealthy frequent exhibitor with an (admittedly gorgeous) outrageously over-the-top, chromed-up, $200K blown big-block Altered drag racing car that was trailered to the event and made a spectacular burnout in the parking
lot, followed by a bellowing, raucous 100-yard drive from the trailer to his spot in the park. After all the awards had been announced, whispered word immediately spread that the owner had gone up to the "People's Choice" booth just before voting closed
and plunked down $200 for tickets - nearly bought up an entire roll! So, he essentially "bought" his own $20 "People's Choice" plastic trophy for $200!
I didn't go there necessarily expecting to "win" anything at all (although dozens of people said it was deserved) -- and I genuinely enjoyed the interaction with all the spectators and other exhibitors, including the guy with the resto-mod '55 Nomad, who
earlier in the day had told me how nice "Big Red" was, but not to expect to win, because it was all about all the "good-old-boys" who were in the Kiwanis Club and all their car buddies. Even before he knew had had won the "Classic" car division, he admitted
that his resto-mod Nomad should not be in the same division as my car, but that was the closest description there was. (There were probably more than 20 cars entered that I would have called "resto-mods", but no class for them?)
I'll still plan to go back next year, pay the $35 entry fee, and just enjoy the pancake breakfast, the camaraderie with the other exhibitors and interaction with the spectators, but not expect to win any plastic trophy! (Especially NOT the "People's Choice"!)
Ray Melton Las Cruces, NM 1957 Chrysler300C convertible white/Gauguin s/n 3N572517
On 8/20/2017 6:18 AM, donald cole mr300k@xxxxxxxxx [Chrysler300] wrote:
Posted by: Ray Melton <rfmelton@xxxxxxx>
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