HomeCar CultureCommentaryBig events are great, but enthusiasm lives at smaller, local shows

Big events are great, but enthusiasm lives at smaller, local shows

While saving up for your bucket-list event, don’t forget the car show just a few miles from home


Over-reaction alert! Likely hypocrisy as well. And this note: I am not a fan of so-called bucket lists, nor of the word “should,” as in “you should…”

Ticking me off this morning is an item I stumbled across on social media. Basically, it was one of several such pronouncements I’ve seen suggesting a list of events every automotive enthusiast should attend during their lifetime. This was yet another such bucket list and included major auto shows and events around the globe, from Pebble Beach to Paris and from SEMA to Shanghai.

To preface what follows, I need to disclose that, because of my occupation, I’m among those fortunate enough to have attended many of these bucket-list events, and, yes, from Pebble Beach to Paris and from SEMA to Shanghai, though at my advancing age it’s unlikely I’ll get to Goodwood or Retromobile. 

And while my list of 6, 8, 10, 12 or 20 such events every enthusiast should attend would be different from the most recent one I read recently, I’m here to contend that such lists actually miss the real point of what’s important.

Yes, such big events are amazing — indeed, I’m just back from Pebble Beach and Monterey Car Week 2021 — but they also are expensive and, for the most part, well beyond the reach of most enthusiasts.

Big events are great, but enthusiasm lives at smaller, local shows
1959 big-finned Caddy arrives at the Whippy Dip
Big events are great, but enthusiasm lives at smaller, local shows
As they say, variety is the spice…

But there are plenty of car events you don’t need to be wealthy or occupationally blessed to attend. Thinking back, while I’ve certainly enjoyed covering such major global events for the past several decades, some of my fondest memories are those I carry with me from much smaller, and especially local events. 

It is at such events — whether at the Whippy Dip Drive-In in Sanford, Michigan, the weekly Eastern Avenue car show in Henderson, Nevada, or a delightful show featuring 1950s finned cars and matching fiberglass boats in Beloit, Wisconsin — where you can experience automotive enthusiasm and fellow (and female) enthusiasts, and without having to spend several hundred dollars to do so.

My point? By all means save your money for a vacation trip that includes one of the big car events if you’re eager to experience one. But meanwhile, take full advantage of the local shows in your area.

Larry Edsall
Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.


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