AACA Car Show Prep – Before, During, and After

Hey guys I am back and sorry for not having a blog for 2021 yet, but here we are now. 

            With the outbreak of COVID-19, things have been a little wonky for everyone, especially with car shows.  In October of 2020, the Hershey Region AACA had to cancel their first show ever since 1954.  With 2020 behind us, Graveyard Run Restorations is planning on making the Hershey Show our first car show for the year. If you have ever showed your vehicle, you will know that there is always a mile-long list of things to do before, during, and after the show. In this blog I am going to give some suggestions on how to prep for an AACA Car shows.

            As stated above, GYR plans on attending its first show for 2021 at the Hershey Region AACA Eastern Fall Meet.  Before you ever step foot on the show ground as an entrant, your first step includes joining the Antique Automobile Club of America, or AACA. (click on the AACA link if you would like to be a AACA member )   Once you are a member, you can then register your vehicle for whatever shows the AACA hosts that you wish to attend, as well as any extra events that occur during the shows or meets. You would think this is it, but NO! Before your vehicle ever leaves the garage, you should check it over for any issues that can cause point deductions during judging.  Some things to consider when looking over your vehicle: the condition of the paint job, make sure all components are working properly, check out your engine bay for any parts that may need to be replaced, check for fluid leaks, make sure your vehicle has the correct decals applied and in the correct places, and CLEAN your vehicle. Once the vehicle is clean you want to make sure that your vehicle has the right badges properly applied if it has won any prior awards at AACA shows.  (Examples – National First Prize badge, Senior tab, Grand National badge).  You may also want to bring any informational papers, photos of the build or other documentation that you have about your vehicle.  Review the current AACA Judging Guidelines Handbook, if you have one, for current general show and safety requirements. Cars must be driven onto and off of the show field and approved fire extinguishers are required. Typically, the guidelines for judging can either be found through the AACA club or online.

 When it comes time to go, you need to prepare a detailing bag because you will use these items throughout the show to keep your car “groomed”. Another suggestion I would make before leaving for a car show is to make sure your insurance will cover everything. I bring up the insurance because nothing would be a bigger disappointment if something were to happen and you did not have the coverage that you thought you had.  Whether you are hauling or driving your car, that is a whole other thing to focus on. You should make sure you have allotted yourself enough time for traveling, because incidents like traffic congestion, having a wreck (hopefully not, but you can’t control other people!), or if your vehicle breaks down.

            Upon arrival to the car show, you should be ready for more work.  The first thing you should do is get your vehicle’s show packet.  If you have multiple vehicles, you then have to make sure the correct packet is with the correct vehicle.  After packets are distributed to the correct vehicle, it is time for your vehicle to be pulled out of the trailer and then driven to its spot on the show field.  Even though your vehicle was thoroughly cleaned and checked over for problems before leaving the garage, you still need to go around again and check for any issues. During your drive, your vehicle can pick up things like dust, pollen, or any other particle that floats in the air.  I also suggest checking all your wires, plugs, etc. because anything could have loosened up during the drive.  Basically, you’re going to repeat your check over as you did before you left the garage because small things can cause your vehicle to lose points. You would not want that, because we want that that heavy trophy and the recognition! 

During the show you will also have to maintain your vehicle’s prettiness. Just like while traveling, it will get dust, pollen, etc. on it and you will want your vehicle to shine like a new dime when the judges approach it.  Make sure your vehicle’s class windshield card is in place and that the judging form is available to the judging team.  Remove any and all excess items from the interior and trunk of your car, including floor mats and display items. You must be present at your vehicle while the judging team is evaluating your car.  Be attentive to what the team is doing, stand back out of their way, and refrain from engaging them in conversation unless you are asked specific questions which is usually done by the team leader.  Be prepared to open the hood, trunk, and doors upon request. After you are judged you can take a deep breath and relax!  It is now time to put out your informational items and photo books if you so desire.  People will be walking around looking at cars and may take notice of your vehicle so be prepared for questions from the curious.

While you are cleaning and talking about your vehicle, you should be aware of what is happening around your vehicle.  Most people at a car show will have respect for the vehicle and its owner, but like most things in life you always have that one person!  So, the best advice is to never leave your vehicle by itself, always have someone you can trust stand near to watch your vehicle.

            The after show packing is really not complicated but you still have a list of things to do.  You have to pack up all of the stuff you brought as well as get the car off of the show field by a certain time.  With a mass of people all trying to accomplish the same thing at the same time, it can get hectic.  You will have to be aware of your surroundings and make sure nothing happens to your vehicle while in the exiting process. Once your vehicle is loaded up, you would then head back to either to your hotel room or head straight for home.  If you are headed to a hotel room you then will have to consider the safest place to park so no one will bother your vehicle and that my friends, is some major paranoia because no one wants anything to happen to their “baby”!

            When all is said and done, it is really not whether you came home with a trophy or came home empty handed.  It’s the good times you had visiting with new and old friends, the beautiful cars you’ve seen, or the places you visited while in the area.  Those memories are priceless.  Trophies and awards are just the icing on my cake!

How to prep for an AACA Car shows