I can’t think of a better way to usher in the spring season than by attending the 61st Annual Detroit Autorama at the Cobo Center in Detroit, Michigan! This city is famous for its love of automobiles and the Detroit Autorama is one of their favorite ways to show it. More than 150,000 car builders and enthusiasts attended the show March 8-10th to view hundreds of gorgeous hot rods, competition cars, specialty and concept vehicles, manufacturer’s displays—and even three generations of the “Batmobile”—from the 1966 Dean Jefferies original Batmobile, to the 1989 Batman Returns model, and the 2005 “Tumbler” from Batman Begins. Lots of other celebrities made appearances, including Gene Winfields, “Chop Shop,” who had everyone amazed by their live demonstrations.
The Detroit Autorama is hosted by the Michigan Hot Rod Association and one of the show’s highlights was the unveiling of the 50th Annual Ridler Award winner. The Association presented Ron Cizek with the award for his beautiful custom burgundy 1940 Ford. More than 30 previous Ridler Award recipients were also present at the ceremony. Part of what makes the Ridler Award so special is that it’s given to the best custom vehicle that makes its debut at this show exclusively. The award is affectionately named after Don Ridler, who was hired by the Association back in the 1950’s to help promote the fledgling Autorama show. Don’s creativity and professionalism were foundational in helping Autorama become the success it is today and even paved the way for the show to move to its present home at the Cobo Center in 1961. After Don’s untimely death in 1963, the Association decided to honor him by naming an award given in his name. The Ridler Award is presented to the best vehicle that emphasizes creativity, engineering, and workmanship.
But the fun didn’t stop there. I was honored to be a guest at the Lingenfelter Performance Engineering (LPE) booth, where I signed autographs and posters that promoted the upcoming Wanda Blue Suede Cruise car show at Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, OH, in July. LPE showcased three of their spectacular concept cars, one of which was painted with custom Wanda finishes and styling effects. I also made appearances at the Summit Motorsports Parkexhibit and the Bearing Burners Auto Club booth, where I got to see lots of Wanda fans from last year’s events!
Next, I headed to Cleveland, OH, for the second annual I-X Piston Powered Show, March 15-17, at the million-square-foot I-X Center. The show is unique in that it’s based around classic cars, vintage airplanes, boats, and custom motorcycles. In the fall of 2012, organizers of the Cleveland Autorama agreed to sell the 46-year-old sanctioned custom car show to the I-X Center, which enabled a combined mega production featuring the best that both shows have to offer. I was amazed at the tens of thousands of show-goers who came to this new show from Northern Ohio and beyond, and appreciated the great response from folks who visited me at the Summit Motorsport Park exhibit.
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