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Cars help rev up enthusiasts at BlackTop Nationals (+videos)

2015: Ford offers a thrill ride at BlackTop Nationals

Ford offered attendees to their "Ride and Drive" event a free hot lap around a track with a professional driver in a brand-new Ford Mustang. (Aug. 22, 2015)
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Ford offered attendees to their "Ride and Drive" event a free hot lap around a track with a professional driver in a brand-new Ford Mustang. (Aug. 22, 2015)

As executive director Jim Petty walked around the site of the BlackTop Nationals on Saturday in downtown Wichita, he pointed at nearly every car.

Each car had its own history – where it came from, who owns the car, how much it’s worth.

“I’ve always said the best part of the car show is not the cars,” he said. “It’s the people.”

More than 150,000 people are expected to attend the annual classic car event, which began Friday and runs until Sunday. Visitors dodged heavy rainfall Saturday morning; cars didn’t roll in until the sun came out later.

Ford Motor Co., a partner in the show, showcased its newest models, while the show included hundreds of cars, trucks, vans, boats and motorcycles from every era and every company.

“It’s unbelievable the history of some of these cars,” Petty said.

The national car show featured live music, food trucks, bouncy inflatables for children and booths for shopping. The “hot laps” obstacle course – a BlackTop tradition – took visitors on fast, screeching races around cones dotted along a parking lot outside Century II.

Inside the Century II Expo Hall, the Ford Dual Dyno Drag simulates a drag race between two Mustang convertibles. Participants put the pedal to the metal, the back wheels spun, and a deafening sound reverberated through the building – without the car ever moving. The convertibles were locked in place.

“It’s loud,” Frank Mize said after competing in the drag race.

For about 13 seconds, Mize and Norm Forbes went head to head. They both said they’ve never done a drag race before.

“You don’t get any of the acceleration, because you’re going on the simulator, so you don’t get any of the pushback,” Forbes said.

Mize beat Forbes by a fraction of a second.

“I’ve never had the nerve to push any engine that hard before,” Mize said, laughing. “But I did.”

Reach Shelby Reynolds at 316-268-6514 or sreynolds@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @_shelbyreynolds.

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