The inaugural BlackTop Nationals in Wichita is getting high marks, and supporters are eager to build on the event's success.
"We were tickled," Rick Nuckolls, president of BlackTop Nationals, said Tuesday. "We achieved our expectations and the goals of what we were looking for....
"I was very proud."
Crowd estimates vary significantly, Nuckolls said, but they range as high as 150,000 people combined on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
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At times, Nuckolls said, "it was shoulder-to-shoulder" on Douglas, and the enthusiasm in the crowd was contagious.
Fox Sports Network was in Wichita filming the event, Nuckolls said, and will televise highlights at 11 a.m. Sunday and 4 p.m. Monday on Channel 34 of Cox cable.
Among the show's highlights were a parade and drive down Douglas on Saturday night and a live auction.
"We tried to create an 'American Graffiti' type of thing," Nuckolls said, adding that he was pleased to see so many young adults cruising Douglas — as countless Wichitans did for decades.
Officials with Ford, a major sponsor of the event, were "extremely pleased with the open arms" that Wichita greeted them with, Nuckolls said.
But no decision has been made about whether Ford will return as a major sponsor.
"We have not had any budget discussions about 2011," Richard Ayres, Enthusiast Events Marketing Manager for Ford, wrote in an e-mail to The Eagle.
Nuckolls is quietly confident Ford will return.
"If they do come back, they've got some great ideas to make it bigger and better," he said.
John Rolfe, Go Wichita Convention and Visitors Bureau president and CEO, said he can't wait for next year's event.
"It would be absolutely wonderful to have another major event like this take place in Wichita," Rolfe said. "Having it downtown is wonderful. It's a great place for it.
"I hope it will continue and become an annual tradition for our city."
Merchants in the Delano neighborhood were generally pleased with the show, though street closings Friday made it difficult for customers to get to their stores.
Those street closings "kind of slowed us down" on Friday, "but the foot traffic on Saturday was tremendous," said Terri Webb, co-owner of the Delano Barbecue Company. "We were just packed all day."
Nearly half of Saturday's crowd was here for the car show and had never been to her restaurant, Webb said.
"We had a lot of new people," she said. "It's always great news for a restaurant."
Hatman Jack's down the street on Douglas was packed on Saturday, too.
"We had some pretty good crowds that were out," Hatman's employee Brian Strole said. "People seemed to enjoy it."
Webb would welcome the show back next year — particularly if traffic challenges can be addressed.
"You've got a captive audience of hungry people," she said. "You'd have to be crazy not to be supportive of it."