Darryl Starbird formally announces annual car show is changing hands

09/28/2011 12:00 AM

03/27/2012 9:33 AM

Darryl Starbird will be attending his 55th annual Rod and Custom Car show at Century II in January.

For the first time, he'll attend as an entrant, not as the guy running the show.

Starbird announced Wednesday that he was selling the show to a group of Wichita car buffs who plan to continue the tradition of the annual show and funnel any profits to local charities.

"Needless to say, this is a bittersweet moment for me," Starbird said during a news conference at Devlin Rod and Customs at 1811 E. Douglas, whose owner, Tim Devlin, is one of the purchasers.

"It's very difficult to give up something you've put 55 years of effort into," Starbird said.

Starbird, 78, has traced his interest in custom cars to his days at East High School, where he was a member of the class of 1951. He studied aeronautical engineering at what is now Wichita State University before opening a custom car shop in the 700 block of East Mount Vernon in 1954.

Three years later, more than 50 cars went on display in his first car show at the old Forum, which is on the same site as Century II. The show eventually grew to include 15 cities before scaling back to just Wichita and Tulsa.

Among those in the group that is buying the show are Tom Devlin, Tim Devlin's father, Dick Price, John Fry and Carl Fry.

Starbird said the new owners of what will be the Starbird-Devlin Rod and Customs Car show have at least one thing in common.

"They're car people," he said.

John Fry, who will be the marketing manager for the show, said the group has selected three charities that benefit children and people with disabilities.

He said United Way restrictions prevent him from disclosing the names of the charities until next month.

The next show will be Jan. 20-22, 2012, at Century II.

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