I recently received an email from Chris Vick regarding his experience at a local car show. If you follow this web site you know that Chris has contributed restoration updates and examples of the progress on his Cale Yarborough Spoiler II. It is readily apparent from his contributions that his work is superb and he knows how to do a good restoration. If you are also an owner of a Ford/Mercury aero car and have ever taken it to a car show you likely had a similar experience as Chris relates in his email.
Hear is part of what Chris had to say.
“Well, I finally am able to show my Cale car. It’s first outdoor show was at a Apple Valley Ford in Apple Valley, Mn. Hosted by the the local Shelby /Mustang club, it is an all Ford show. I entered the stock midsize Ford/Merc class and they hand out 1st, 2nd and 3rd place in all classes. There is also a Sponsor Choice and People choice. This show is participant judge, meaning all car owners get a ballot to vote all cars in each of the many classes. That means how many friends you bring to vote for you helps, they don’t vote with their brains. Now I built this car to win, so it is as close to a 100 point car as you can get. I don’t have Chip Foose’s skills or Jay Leno’s money but it did turn out nice. All parts have there correct plating colors, only natural steel part that is painted is the drive shaft ( too many pits ), all other suspension parts, under hood parts, nuts and bolts are all correct and brand new. Factory detail was the number one goal. So I show it with the hood and trunk open and mirrors underneath to show the detail. Time for trophies, they give out 1st, 2nd and 3rd place, also Sponsors Choice and Peoples Choice. I got 3rd. I was not happy about that but a little later it got better. It got Sponsors Choice, the dealers favorite car, not bad a Merc at a Ford dealer.”
I think we can all relate. I have not seen Chris’ car in person but the photos look great. Neither do I have any idea of the quality of the First and Second place cars. Is Chris a bad looser or a victim of the Judging system? Sometime ago Katrina and I stopped taking our cars to local judged car shows because of uneducated judges. Let me explain.
I do not profess to be an expert judge or an expert at putting on car shows but I have been participating at indoor and outdoor car shows for over 50 years! I have shown everything from custom Corvettes to Mustangs, MOPARs and Ford Aero cars. Shows have ranged from mark specific like all Chevy, all Ford and all MOPAR to major Regional and National shows. I have sometimes went home empty handed and on others with Best in Show.
If you want to talk about car shows we have to first narrow the discussion a little. In my mind there are three categories of shows. First off is the bottom of the barrel yet most fun, the Cruise-in and Cars and Coffee where there is no judging. These are NOT really car shows. They are simply gatherings of car folks who want to talk cars, display their cars and look at cars. There are no awards and no judging. These events are growing in popularity and are very stress free. These can include a few cars at the local Dairy Queen or hundreds of cars at the big shopping mall in town. They usually take place once a week or once a month in good weather. You are free to come and go as you please and you will see a wide variety of car types from expensive exotic super cars to rat rods.
Second are the more traditional local car shows that have sponsors and depending on where you live there may be multiples going on at the same time at different locations or there may only be one or two a year. Even as car shows go there are different variations. A car show, in my opinion, includes cars being judged against similar cars or against a point system.
The third variation of a car show are the indoor, regional and national events that are judged by highly accredited judges.
There are as many ways to judge a show as there are shows. Some standard methods seem to exist. I won’t go into detail about all the different ways but rather will generalize the judging methods as follows.
- Volunteer judges who may have never judged a car show before. There may be one or multiple judges. They look for what ever the Show Chair tells them to and what they “like”. They generally have little knowledge if any about whether a particular car is stock, customized, restored or a survivor.
- Participant judged is where everyone who enters a car in the show gets a judging sheet and picks their favorites. Such shows are generally more of a popularity contests than a real competition. At such shows participating club members usually control who gets a trophy by coordinating their votes.In fact, at some shows the judging is done by the spectators who often don’t know a Fairlane from a Malibu. Another variation of this is to have the Mayor pick his or her favorite car. That usually turns out to be what ever reminds them of the car grandpa once drove etc.
- Trained and experienced judges are the most stressful to show under but also the most rewarding to win under. You are most likely to find these at regional and national shows. This excludes such shows as the hot rod oriented Good Guys, Super Chevy and similar. However, shows put on by the Fairlane Club of America, the Antique Auto Club of America (AACA) and major concourse and indoor shows such the Muscle Car And Corvette Nationals (MCACN will most assuredly have well qualified judges.
- While most shows still judge one car against all others at the show, the AACA and NCACN both judge every car by class but evaluates it against a full set of points. Every car starts out with the maximum points and then has points deducted according to incorrect or missing parts for the car as determined by the Judging Team. Depending on the final points after all the deductions are subtracted, the car is then classified or awarded by the total points it earned. The car is actually competing against itself. Once the show is over the owner has the ability to go home, make changes and to come back at the next show and attempt to earn a higher total of points and possibly a higher award. This is where the terms “100 point car” or “perfect car”, come from. There can be. in reality, multiple winners but some simply score more points than other winners.
With this understanding of what the differences are in car shows and the knowledge necessary to judge all the different makes, models and years of cars plus customs vs stock and restored vs survivor it is impossible for any judge to be able to correctly judge every car at a show. The more unique, unusual and rare a car is the greater this challenge becomes.
Remember, most of the car folks out there have no idea of what a Talladega really is and even fewer have ever heard of a Spoiler II! One of our Team Members has said he was docked points at a show “because his Fairlane’s hood was still in primer!” The judge had no idea it was a Talladega and that the hood was correct.
I have found it is much more rewarding and far less frustrating to take our rare cars out to cruise-ins, cars and coffee events or other display only shows. Why? Because we get lots and lots of people who want to ask questions and have no idea what the cars are or their history. One of the most heard comments is: “I have never seen one in person before! Thank you for bringing it out.” That is far more rewarding than any trophy.
With that being said, we also thoroughly enjoy showing at the major shows mentioned about. If you and your car are up to it, go try one of the big shows with knowledgeable judges. These shows can be a bit more stressful and you will still get the same kind of comments from spectators and you will, more often than not, know you were judged fairly.
What are your experiences and recommendations to those taking their recently completed show worthy cars out to shows?
Have you put on a show? What have been your experiences?
Have you been a judge? What car you add?
Leave comments below.