While rain put a damper on some outside activities at BlackTop Nationals on Friday and Saturday, Sunday made up for it, with plenty of sunshine marking the last day. "It was by far our best Sunday so far," said Rick Nuckolls, one of the show’s founders. He said early crowd estimates were that "well over 100,000" people turned out that day.
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As so often is the case, spectacular cars bring us together with fascinating people with great stories to share. That’s how it was with several of the vehicles exhibited as part of the BlackTop Nationals’ "Million $ Car Display."
I had seen Bruce Blackwell’s amazing 1956 DeSoto Adventurer hardtop at a car show earlier this summer and was disappointed I wouldn’t be able to do a full-blown feature on it, since it is an out-of-state car. But I had a chance to meet Tim Bowers, the guy who did the stunning restoration of this black-and-gold beauty, at the BTN show. Bowers operates Stellar Antique Auto Restoration out of Windom, a McPherson County town of a little over 100 people.
He shared some of the details of the build with me and I would put his work and that of Gary Martin of Goldfield Trim and Upholstery in Lindsborg, who upholstered the DeSoto, up against anybody in the country. I’m proud to know people with these kinds of skill levels.
My BTN experience began with a taste of humble pie. I was lucky enough to be chosen as one of the media types to get to try out the Ford Drag Dyno on Friday morning. I was to be pitted against David Wolfe, producer and host of the video program "Street Rodding American Style," seen across the state on public TV stations.
After the requisite amount of trash-talking, we each climbed into a Mustang GT convertible lashed down to the rollers of twin dynos inside Expo Hall. With a Ford representative beside each of us, we were briefed on how to make our runs.
The starter lights flashed down and away we went, and I thought I was doing pretty well. But the Ford guy told me to shut it down, that David had red-lighted and that we would have to re-run the race. Well, excuse me, but that means he lost and I would have liked to have gotten a full run in.
After being admonished again about how easy it is to red-light, I was too cautious on the re-run and, naturally, David blew my red Mustang into the weeds. As far as I’m concerned, we now stand at 1-1, TV-boy!
The BlackTop Nationals proved to be an especially memorable time for two people. Russell Logan had the lucky key that started the restored 1965 Mustang coupe given away by the Midwest Ford Dealers on the closing day of the event, and Mike Lach became the new owner of the Harley-Davidson Iron 883 motorcycle donated by the First Council Casino in Newkirk , Okla., a few hours later.
As for other winners, Doug and Carolyn Bradsher took the overall Best-In-Show award for their beautiful blue and white 1955 Chevy Belair after judging was completed. A full listing of awards is attached to this column at Kansas.com. You can also find plenty of BTN photo galleries at the website.
The list is way too long to say thanks to everybody who helped us put on another Wheels Reunion. But we sincerely appreciate BTN organizers letting us be a part of their event, as well as everyone who came to show their cars and those who came just to look at them.