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Monday, July 28, 2014

BlackTop Nationals to feature longer hours this year

By Sarah Rajewski
The Wichita Eagle

When the BlackTop Nationals kicked off its inaugural show last year, event organizers figured 11 hours of events was enough for the first day.

They started at 8 a.m. and ended at 7 p.m. But that left 15,000 people outside who wanted to come back in and look at the show, said Rick Nuckolls, president of BlackTop Nationals.

"We said, 'OK, we've learned something. We'll change it around a little bit,' " he said.

People at the second annual BlackTop Nationals car and motorcycle show Aug. 26-28 won't have the same problem. The event will start at noon Friday at Century II and last until 10 p.m., creating a street-party atmosphere as people enjoy Old Town and the show, Nuckolls said.

The show plans to hire a band and create a temporary district for those who want to walk around and drink beer. The event had a beer garden last year, but the new plans allow for people to walk in an area bordered by Waco, Main, Douglas and Waterman, said executive director Melissa Contrestano.

The show will stay open until 10 p.m. on Saturday, too. BlackTop Nationals also features its Cruise Night event in Park City from 7-9 p.m. that night.

Besides new hours, BlackTop Nationals announced several other changes Tuesday.

This year, people wanting to buy classic cars can go to the car corral in the Drury Plaza Hotel Broadview parking lot.

The Arizona Precision Motorcycle Drill Team plans to perform Friday through Sunday.

Ford Motor Co. will sponsor the event again. Mike Durkin, Ford business development specialist, said the company plans to bring 50 to 65 cars next month.

Durkin said the company hopes to capitalize on the success of last year's show.

"This, by far, is our best fan engagement that we do where we can really get down on the ground, talk to customers, get them inside cars, get their opinions and their feedback," he said.

Ford is also bringing back its popular Mustang Hot Laps rides, which allows people to ride with a professional driver. Nuckolls said the lines for this event were often backed up because people enjoyed it so much.

Fans will get the chance to ride in the Mustang Boss 302, which was on the turntable at the show last year. There is no cost for the Hot Laps rides, but people must register with Ford at the event, Contrestano said.

Last year's event brought more than 600 cars, trucks and motorcycles and drew more than 140,000 people. Nuckolls said he hopes to continue the event annually on the same weekend in August.

"People love classic cars," Nuckolls said. "They love classic motorcycles and trucks, and that's what this event is about."

For the full schedule of events, go to

Reach Sarah Rajewski at 316-269-6752 or

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