The inaugural BlackTop Nationals gets under way in earnest Friday on the streets and in the show halls of downtown Wichita.
Rick Nuckolls, one of the event founders, said staff members were fine-tuning things even as cars began to roll in, either to be auctioned off to the top bidder or judged for a two-day car show.
' 'Our first year, we have to prove ourselves. Our goal is to put on a good, quality event and grow it," he said.
Organizers hope to have as many as 1,000 vehicles in the car show. Entrants may either pay $25 to simply display their vehicles, or $40 to have them judged and compete for a total of about $20,000 in cash awards and trophies, Nuckolls said.
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For those not preregistered, entrants can sign up with their cars at the Wichita Boat House from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday or 7 a.m. till noon on Saturday.
Thirty-five judges will score the competing cars in 21 different classes, with awards going to the top three in each class, said Iran Wheeler, chief judge. "Fifteen judges will be judging each car," he said. ''First place in each class qualifies to be rejudged for Best in Show."
The top award will receive $1,000 in cash, a trophy and a one-of-a-kind drawing of his or her car by artist Will Linder.
Ford Motor Co., a major sponsor of BlackTop Nationals, will have a selection of vintage and new Fords on display in Expo Hall.
"I am very glad to report we will have both a new (2011) Explorer and (2012) Mustang Boss 302 at the Ford display this weekend," said Steve Ling, Ford's North American car marketing manager, who will be in town for the event.
Show-goers can sign up for free rides in a new Ford Raptor off-road pickup or a high-performance Mustang on special courses set up near Century II. Times are from 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.
The auction begins Friday in Convention Hall at the Century II complex and will run from 4 to 7:30 p.m. The auction resumes Saturday in the same venue, at 10 a.m. It is the only event for which admission ($5) will be charged.
For those who can't make it to the auction itself, it will be broadcast via the Internet at www.blacktopnationals.com from 4 to 7:30 p.m. daily. Assiter Auction Group of Lubbock, Texas, best known for the Barrett-Jackson televised collector car auctions, will help with the sale.
Action continues well into the evening, with a cruise to Park City set for tonight, with an 8 p.m. parade scheduled there. Spectators also will be able to watch a city-approved water burnout, in which water is sprayed onto the pavement so that cars can roll into it, spinning their back tires and creating billows of smoke.
Saturday following the auction, the cruise venue will be Douglas Avenue — although there will be no burnout area and participants will be expected to obey all traffic laws, including traffic lights. A "cackle fest" is slated for 10:30 p.m. at the Exploration Place parking lot, where participants can sound off their exhaust systems.
For those craving still more action, both nights will conclude at Kansas International Dragway, where for $20, anybody can find out just how quick their ride is by making a few passes down the timed quarter mile.
Other events on tap include an autocross course set up at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium. Anybody, whether entered in the car show or not, can make three runs through the cones for $10; hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both Friday and Saturday.
Valve cover racing is set for both Friday and Saturday at Exploration Place beginning at 10 a.m., with a dozen awards up for grabs.
Exhibitions by Drift Cup of California will be held in the parking area across from the Mid-America All Indian Center at 9 a.m., noon, 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Final drifting sessions will be at 9 a.m. and noon Sunday.
Wrapping up the event will be the car show awards ceremony at 3 p.m. Sunday in Century II's Convention Hall.