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BlackTop Nationals fuels up for a weekend of activities in Wichita (+video)

VIDEO: 2015 BlackTop Nationals at Century II

The sixth annual BlackTop Nationals will be at and around Century II on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Around 100,000 people are expected at the event this year. (Video by Fernando Salazar)
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The sixth annual BlackTop Nationals will be at and around Century II on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Around 100,000 people are expected at the event this year. (Video by Fernando Salazar)

If you like the “Fast and Furious” movies, you’ll probably love one event at this weekend’s Blacktop Nationals.

That would be the “hot laps,” staged on an obstacle course set up in the parking lot across the street from the Wichita Boathouse.

“We’ll put you in a ride with a Ford (driving) professional and take you drifting,” said Rick Nuckolls, president and owner of BlackTop Nationals. “It’s pretty cool.”

“It’s what I call a knee-knocker ride,” added executive director Jim Petty. “It can be pretty exhilarating to most people. I know they go through a ton of tires that weekend.”

The three-day car show, now in its sixth year, celebrates all things to do with motor vehicles, the faster the better. It’ll be held in and around Century II Friday through Sunday. Hundreds of classic and customized cars and motorcycles, race cars, kids’ activities, food, vendors, live music and more round out the event.

The “guest of honor” this year is the prototype for a new 600-horsepower Ford GT, designed to commemorate the 50th anniversary of that vehicle placing first, second and third at the 1966 LeMans race. It goes into production next year, but right now there are only two in existence.

The sixth annual BlackTop Nationals will be at and around Century II on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Around 100,000 people are expected at the event this year. (Video by Fernando Salazar)

“It’s been in California for a photo shoot,” Nuckolls said. “That’s going to be cool. We’re real excited about it.”

Petty called it “Ford upstaging the Corvette.” Ford, it should be noted, is a major sponsor of the event.

BlackTop’s “Million Dollar Car Show” takes place inside Century II Exhibition and Convention Hall, with about 100 cars from around the country on hand. While most are from the Midwest, 26 states will be represented.

“We’re out at other shows looking at ’em,” Petty said of the car show’s recruitment efforts.

Gasoline Alley, featuring about 30 cars that have raced on all kind of surfaces, is also in Century II. A ’32 Ford Coupe, ’36 Packard and double-engine drag racer are among the vehicles Petty thinks will get second looks.

The Ford Dual Dyno Drag allows attendees to simulate a drag race in a couple of 2015 Mustang convertibles.

Outside Century II, hundreds of car enthusiasts will park their vehicles.

“Everybody wants to know about everybody else’s cars,” said Ray Pearce, a former Wichitan who’s traveling from Arkansas for the event. “We just walk around and enjoy the workmanship. That’s what this sport is all about – meeting people, telling people about your car and finding all the details about their car.”

Pearce said he is bringing three vehicles to the event – a ’29 Ford pickup, a ’29 sedan and a ’30 Ford Roadster that took best of show at last year’s BlackTop Nationals.

Envision, another sponsor, is hosting a kids zone in the WaterWalk area. There will be a Jet Ski exhibition on the Arkansas River on Saturday and Sunday.

Nuckolls said the BlackTop Nationals has evolved into just the sort of event he and some friends envisioned when they came up with the idea six years ago. And he’s got a simple explanation for why.

“By my estimation, there’s in the neighborhood of 7,000 classic cars in metro Wichita,” he said. “Wichita is just blessed to be a great car community.”

If you go

BlackTop Nationals

When: Noon-9 p.m. Friday; 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday; 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday (events may start earlier, check complete schedule at blacktopnationals.com)

Where: Century II, 225 W. Douglas

How much: $5 for weekend pass, children 6 and under get in free.

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