BlackTop Nationals, the homegrown 3-day car show with venues from downtown Wichita to Park City and even Newkirk, Okla., will fill local gearheads' schedules this weekend, beginning in and around Century II.
Last year's event drew 140,000 people.
The key attraction will be 800 or more collector cars displayed along Douglas, flanking Century II over the bridge to the west and then down McLean.
Ford again will be the presenting sponsor of BlackTop Nationals, which will open to the public at noon Friday and run through the awards ceremony at 3 p.m. on Sunday. There is no admission charge for spectators.
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"We're really tickled that Ford is here ... and they seem to be proud that they are here, too," said Rick Nuckolls, president of BlackTop Nationals, as he emerged from a meeting with representatives of the auto manufacturer. With the help of Rusty Eck Ford and Mel Hambelton Ford, show promoters are expecting at least as big a crowd as the 140,000 people who attended the inaugural event last year, Nuckolls said. "We're anticipating a nice turnout, depending on the weather," he said.
Steve Ling, Ford Large and Performance Car marketing manager, will be back for the festivities, which will include the opportunity to snag a ride in a Mustang Boss 302 driven around a course by a professional race car driver.
If you want some wheel time yourself, you can bring your own car and run it over a timed autocross course at Lawrence-Dumont stadium twice for a $10 fee any of the three days. Or try your hand at the longer autocross course at the Kansas Coliseum on Sunday (three runs for $20).
A total of 35 classes of cars will be judged during the 3-day event, ranging from pre-1927 classics to present-day vehicles, with street rods, customs, restored cars, trucks, motorcycles and sports cars in the mix.
Individual class winners will receive a $100 cash award and a trophy. Best in Show honors, presented at the conclusion of the event at 3 p.m. Sunday at Expo Hall, will be worth a $250 cash prize, a stylized cut-glass trophy presented by O'Reilly Auto Parts, and a pencil rendering of the winning vehicle done by local artist Will Linder.
Those who don't have any interest in competing will be able to show off their cars in a non-judged format. Registration for both judged and non-judged entries opens at BG Products at 10 a.m. Friday and 9 a.m. Saturday.
Organizers are expecting more than 250 of the cars in the show to take part in the Saturday night mile-long cruise through Park City, which will again feature burn-out exhibitions for folks into tire-smoking performance.
"People aren't obligated to do burn-outs," said Nuckolls. Those cars will lead the parade, with the tire-shredders following. "It will be fun to watch, but safe," said Nuckolls. "This gives people the opportunity not to just see a car at the show but hear it and see it in action." Entrants participating in the Park City Cruise/Burnout must have a wristband, which can be obtained by buying a $3 event program at QuikTrip or Walgreens, or at the downtown show site.
There will not be a collector car auction this year, but instead a Car Corral sponsored by Featherlite trailers of Kansas City, where car owners can display vehicles for sale for a $50 fee.
Other new features this year include live music by the band The Substitutes on Friday night at Kennedy Plaza near Century II and the Native Lights Casino Poker Run, which leaves Lawrence Dumont Stadium Saturday morning and winds up at the casino in Newkirk, Okla. Nuckolls said American Legion Riders Post 401 is anticipating up to 700 motorcycles taking part in the poker run.
The Arizona Precision Motorcycle Drill Team will be performing and students from the McPherson College Auto Restoration Program will be demonstrating how to put together a Model T in a matter of minutes — an amazing mechanical ballet, in case you've never seen it.
The Lawrence-Dumont Stadium parking lot will also host a motorcycle-riding challenge each day of the event.
Among charities benefiting from BlackTop Nationals events will be Education Edge, a private fundraising initiative to help support Wichita public schools through classroom mini-grants and support for athletic and fine arts programs; McPherson College's Auto Restoration Program and the Wounded Warrior Transition Battalion of Kansas and the Gold Star Mothers Operation Memorial Freedom.
A Fallen Heroes motorcycle ride will depart from City Hall in Park City Sunday morning, with riders delivering flags to the Veterans Administration parking lot in Wichita.
"We're doing this to support the Wichita and Park City communities ... this is one of the things that make it a good place to live ... that's why we do BlackTop," Nuckolls said.
For more information and a complete schedule visit www.blacktopnationals.com.