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For most retrophiles and vintage enthusiasts, car shows have been a central way of expressing our culture and joining together to celebrate a lifestyle we all find ourselves attempting to reproduce. From the tiki torches of the West coast, to the glitzy lights of the East, Kustom Kulture and Hot Rodding has always been a central part of rockabilly gatherings. We chop the roof lines of Mercs, and slam Cadillacs. But are the themes and the aesthetics the same in the Mid West? They’re called Flyover states for a reason, and the fact that the mid west has earned the moniker “Rust Belt” is a little concerning. Being an Ohio native, I can contest that we have the same vehicles, albeit a little more rusty; as California and New York.
We pull them from barns, and spend several months replacing parts, shining chrome, and cursing away each day until the first show or cruise of the season. Ohio has some pretty temperamental weather. We cannot, or should not drive our antiques for 5-6 months out of the year. ODOT salts our roads, which is the cancer to all vehicles. Still, when the first two Ohio rains pass through the northern part of the state, we are out driving our junk. Our culture is pretty easy going. We don’t cater to Trailer Queens, and have some pretty awesome Car Clubs in the area. The Lucky Aces, Dead Last CC and Piston Jammers are all great local Ohio/ Southern Michigan clubs with amazing hot rods and a flare for the rockabilly lifestyle.
In and around Toledo and Detroit, there are the five major shows that are on my “Must Attend” calendar. And they are as follows. Billetproof and Detroit Dragway Reunion is June 11th 2016 at Milan Dragway in Milan Michigan. It has some awesome swap meet action and good old fashioned drag racing. July 15-17th is the 2016 Blue Suede Cruise at Summit Motorsports Part in Norwalk Ohio, If you like drag racing and amazing cars, this is a must attend show. Camping is available through the weekend. The Piston Jammers 6th Annual Panty Raid 2016 is July 30th at Parmalee Park in Lambertville Michigan. This show is an overnight camp out and the theme this year is a Christmas in July. The Relix Riot at the Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners Michigan is an amazing show with the museum open to spectators. You are also able to camp the night before the show. The date is August 20th of 2016. Then to head off the final shows of the year, we always attend the Pumpkin Run Nationals the FIRST WEEKEND in October. Owensville Ohio Fairgrounds hold one of the largest and (usually rainy) shows of the year. Your entry gets you a chance to win a vehicle. And I’d like to sheepishly admit my family has won the car drawing twice. By total mishap!
Being that my husband is the owner of Lead Foot Customs, our vehicles usually end up at all of these shows and weekly cruises. The slow rumble of high octane engines is something that Ohio summers are notorious for. We like our hot rods, and our rockabilly music. Names like Kentucky Chrome and Andrew Ellis are legendary here.
All of these events rival that of Viva Las Vegas in my opinion because corn fed rockabilly boys and dixie fried pinups will out run most hot weather hot rods. We may build them from a pile of rust, but we know how to bang them through the gears. Call it professional opinion, but I do feel that the fact we manage to get these hot rods and classics for next to nothing, and shove in a big block with little to no body work seems more attractive than the fantastic paint jobs and body filler. Most trailer queen’s have never taken their car down a drag strip anyways. Do not mistake me for an elitist, I do adore the perfectly restored classics. But we are talking about the vintage traditionalists that drive their cars every day, rain or shine. Just not in the snow.
I see little to nothing of women in this culture that actually take their life beyond the cars. This is probably my biggest complaint. Ohio doesn’t have many traditionalist women, and if they’re a “pin up” they probably only have 1-2 outfits that only get seen at the cruise ins. I long to bring back a heavy rockabilly culture in the Midwest. I want to see guys bringing their girls to the drive in, rockin’ that 65 Olds. I want to see pin curls, and side pipes. I want to talk about records and swing dancing, not Pinterest and Forever 21 Sales.
One thing that East and West Coast has that we do not, is the connection to something larger. But despite our small community, we find reasons to cruise, and people who enjoy the music, and nostalgia. Even if we have to take yearly trips on RT.66 to get back to our roots, we will stay in Ohio and keep this car culture thriving. Most people will simply ooh and ahh when they see me, petticoats a twirling, bubble gum a’ poppin’ and that is okay. They may not believe I live every day I can cruising in my Cadillac, and listening to Lorrie Collins. They may assume I have a job, and that I am not a traditionalist housewife. But I am. I’m not glamorizing the 1950’s, because just like segregation was bad, and sexism was unpleasant, so are many of the world’s problems today. We’re not better off, we have just changed issues.
If car culture, and vintage automobiles give me the best tie to a mid century life, then I suppose I owe it all to the Ohio car scene. It’s the people I have met that give me a hope that history will continue to be preserved and remembered. Whether loudly or quietly, cars are going to continue cruising, and we will continue building. Girls will continue to don parasols and cat eye sunglasses. All I can hope for is that we stand united, and continue to help each other, no matter our geographical location.