Retooled, refocused and under new ownership, this weekend’s Starbird-Devlin Rod and Customs Charities Car Show is bringing in more than 300 show cars from across the country.
The event, which starts Friday at Century II, is a continuation of the show Darryl Starbird founded 55 years ago. Its new owners promise a weekend of family-friendly fun that builds on past success.
“The five of us who bought the show from Darryl last year are all car guys,” said John Fry, co-owner and marketing manager. “We’ve been interested in car shows for years and years. We saw this as a great opportunity to compile all of our experience and keep a great thing for the community going.”
The other owners are Tim Devlin, Tom Devlin, Dick Price and Carl Fry.
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A key change to this year’s show is that all of the proceeds will go to local charities: the Wichita Children’s Home, Starkey Inc. and the ARC of Sedgwick County.
This year’s show boasts a wide range of cars that organizers say are among the most impressive in the region. Hundreds of people will be showing off their automotive creations and competing for awards in various categories. Hot rods, custom cars, antique motorcycles and restorations will be on display. A staple of the event will be the “Magnificent 7” category, which will showcase 28 national award-winning cars that have never been seen in Wichita. Seven of those vehicles will be chosen to compete for the Best of Show prize.
Fry thinks there is a certain quality to the cars in the show that distinguishes it from other car events in Wichita.
“A lot of the parking-lot shows aren’t able to get the kind of cars that we are able to,” he said. “We have rare cars from all over the country, and many of them quite famous. For example, The Predator is coming. It’s been the most photographed car in the world, according to Hot Rod magazine.”
Other features of this year’s show include a kid zone and special daily speakers, including Darryl Starbird. McPherson College will host lectures on car and hot rod restorations, and The Eagle’s Bonnie Bing will host a fashion show at 2 p.m. Saturday featuring local media personalities and their families.
The kids activities will include face painting, a coloring station, scavenger hunts, clowns and a make-and-take area, where children can assemble plastic cars. Admission is free for children ages 11 and younger. This is part of what Fry said is a concerted effort to bring in new and younger audiences.
“It’s going to be one of the greater shows as far as Wichita is concerned,” Fry said. “We are taking it back to a traditional type of show. It’s a Wichita tradition continued.”