Cars

BlackTop Nationals joins Riverfest lineup

526 horsepower Ford tears down Main Street

Show-goers at the 7th annual Blacktop Nationals could ride along with a professional driver in a Shelby GT350R on a one-block closed course set up on Main Street during Riverfest. The more daring could actually slip behind the wheel. (Video by Mik
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Show-goers at the 7th annual Blacktop Nationals could ride along with a professional driver in a Shelby GT350R on a one-block closed course set up on Main Street during Riverfest. The more daring could actually slip behind the wheel. (Video by Mik

The 2016 edition of the BlackTop Nationals marked a changing of the guard, as the Century II-based car show became a part of the Wichita Riverfest. The show is now officially owned by the Midwest Ford Dealers and operated by Wichita Festivals Inc.

“There were a lot of changes going on this year and there was some apprehension,” said Sam Hale, BlackTop Nationals event organizer. “The show went very smoothly, we had plenty of volunteers. The crowds were good. Saturday was really good inside and outside.”

One of the major changes from years past was the outside display of cars, switched from parking along a closed section of Douglas north of Century II to the parking lot south of the Wichita Public library.

“Outside, we were a little bit disappointed,” said Hale. “We had more (cars) on Saturday than on Sunday.” According to an initial car count, a total of 215 cars were displayed. Organizers had hoped for 300-400 cars.

Hale said the Admiral’s Collection (formerly the Million $ Car Show) inside Expo Hall drew really well, with displays by the GR-RRR8R-Wichita Pontiac Club and the Wichita chapter of the Horseless Carriage Club of America attracting a lot of attention.

Show-goers at the 7th annual Blacktop Nationals could ride along with a professional driver in a Shelby GT350R on a one-block closed course set up on Main Street during Riverfest. The more daring could actually slip behind the wheel. (Video by Mik

The Ford Ride & Drive Experience also was moved to a new location, east of the library, where Main Street was blocked off and a closed course laid out. Show attendees could either ride along as a passenger or actually drive a 526 horsepower Shelby GT350R on a city street. The autocross event was moved to the big parking lot west of the All America Indian Center, where drivers could put their own cars through their paces, trying to cover the course in as little time as possible without scattering any orange cones.

This was the 7th year for the BlackTop Nationals, originally founded by Rick Nuckolls and other local car guys.

“The trophy situation … was one of the high points of the awards ceremony,” Hale said of the wrap-up of this year’s event. The trophies were built from used auto parts by the Hellkat Racers and were presented to winners in each of 24 judged classes.

There were no security issues reported during the run of the car show — no cars damaged by curious onlookers, a concern organizers had addressed with signs and volunteers keeping an eye on crowd members who might not understand car show etiquette.

“Hopefully, it all went well enough that everybody will be back next year,” Hale said.

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