I don’t know if they do this everywhere, but here in Utah we have an informal evening car show known as a cruise night. As car shows go they are fairly small and are typically sponsored by a restaurant. The shows are hosted by a radio personality like a DJ. The shows I usually attend are hosted by a local DJ, JC Hackett. I thought that I would take you through a typical cruise night car show as they are quite different than the usual larger shows that occur during the day or sometimes over several days at a time.
As I mentioned above, the cruise night is usually sponsored by a restaurant, and it is held in their parking lot or the parking lot that may surround the restaurant in a mall. These are supposed to be after work affairs, and they usually officially kick off about 5 pm and then wrap up somewhere between 8 and 9 PM depending upon the time of the year. However, if you want to get a good spot for your car, it is best to arrive early. I usually pull in about 3:30 to 4:00 pm. I’m not sure why they’re called “cruise nights” as there is really no cruising going on per se.
So what is a “good parking spot”? Well, that’s a little different for everyone. But for me, I like to find a spot fairly close to the DJ’s trailer and on one of the main aisles with the most foot traffic. I have noticed that if you get stuck out at the end of the last row or two it is easy to get overlooked. But I have a friend who likes to park fairly far from the main aisle as he just doesn’t care for the loud music.
The cruise nights are almost always free to the exhibitors, and free for the spectators as well. While it is certainly not required, it is customary for the exhibitors to catch some dinner at the sponsoring restaurant. As the many different types of cars attract a crowd, the restaurants are hoping that their customer traffic will increase substantially due to the cruise nights.
Along with the car show, the host DJ plays a nice repertoire of music that we call “oldies rock ‘n’ roll” here in the US. Oldies rock ‘n’ roll is also known as classic rock music from the 1960s on up through the 1980s depending upon the DJ who is playing the music. The DJ has a trailer with all of the sound equipment, and then they set up speakers near the trailer. JC Hackett plays some really great music that definitely adds to a party atmosphere for the show. There are always a lot of car songs, so we definitely get in the mood.
Even though the show is free, the participants are asked to register their cars. There are several reasons for this. First, the show host and the sponsor typically cordon off an area and restrict parking in the show area for exhibitors only. As these events are held at retail business establishments, sometimes there are a few straggling customers or employees in the show parking area who end up leaving after the show has officially begun. So, there are times when we get a laugh out of a few of the cars that are left in the parking area for the show participants.
Second, by registering for the show you are now eligible to receive a prize either from the show judging or from drawings for various giveaway type items. Many times the sponsor restaurant will feature gift cards, and there are usually other gift items from other sponsors. The drawings are random selections from your entry tickets. The prizes are really fun and sometimes are nice car care items or even apparel.
Of course the two best parts of the cruise nights for me are the comradery and the cars. Car shows are really social events. Getting together with others with whom we share common passions is really what this is all about. Catching up on what’s happening with my friends is always a good time. And then, the cars are always awesome. Like traditional car shows, the cruise nights are like going to a living museum. Everyone who attends either as a participant or as a spectator will find something that they will enjoy.
The cars, like their owners, all have a story to tell. And of course everyone’s taste in cars is incredibly varied. One can see everything from early 1900s vintage “horseless carriages” to traditional hot rods, 1940s coupes and sedans, 1950s cars, the muscle cars of the 1960s and early 1970s all the way to what we call “modern muscle”. My car, the 2016 Dodge Charger Hellcat is a “modern muscle”.
These cars are like our babies; everyone is so passionate about their vehicles. And if you start talking with the owners about their “babies” you might be there for 40 minutes getting a complete education. And then there are the friendly rivalries between the GM folks, the Ford people, and the Mopar (Chrysler Corp.) nuts — like me.
So, the cruise nights are just a great place to gather with like minded friends and enjoy our passions and hobby. Do we all just sit around talking cars all evening? Of course not! People are people, and we end up talking about our families, our homes, our jobs, and our other non-car hobbies.
If you are looking for a nice inexpensive, entertaining evening with some great old classic rock ‘n’ roll, a little bit of history and some great people watching, you might just want to come for a visit to our local cruise nights.
(Please don’t lose patience or give up if you are waiting for more of my more traditional photography and adventure posts. I’ve been really swamped with work lately, so my only recreation right now has been the car shows.. I hope you don’t mind me showing off this part of my life.)