AutoMatters: Car Shows & Racing at the San Diego County Fair


By Jan. R. Wagner

Each year car clubs participate in Car Shows at the Fair, competitive events which feature their particular brand, model or type of automobile. This particular day the cars belonged to members of the Mustang Club of San Diego.

Early in the morning, we gathered off-site in a nearby shopping center parking lot, eager to spend a fun day at the fair. Then, when everyone was ready, we lined up our cars and formed a parade of Mustangs as we drove over to the fairgrounds.

As our cars emerged from the tunnel that led to the car show area, we paused briefly while each of our cars was photographed (you’ll see why later). Then we were directed to park in spots that would soon be roped off. The privilege of parking within the gates of the fair, under the watchful eyes of fair staffers, is very cool.

Before leaving our cars and heading off to enjoy the fair, we attended a brief drivers’ meeting, where we were asked to fill out information cards about our particular cars. The cards were numbered to identify our cars, since this was a competitive event for the People’s Choice Award. Then, until mid-afternoon, fairgoers were encouraged to take a ballot and vote for their favorite cars.

At around 3PM, when we all returned to claim our vehicles, the winner was announced. A first place prize was awarded and everyone who had entered the car show received a large souvenir photo (taken earlier) of them in their car, complete with the “2013 Game On!” fair logo and their name.

I encourage you to join a car club, if you do not already belong to one (or several), and get a group together to participate in next year’s Car Shows at the Fair. It’s a whole lot of fun and you will even get free admission to the fair.

There was also plenty of racing action that day, county fair style. Nearby, racing fans young and old gathered in grandstands overlooking an oval racetrack. There were checkered flags and a track announcer, to call out the action. A vendor working the enthusiastic crowd was doing a brisk business selling racing souvenirs: plastic pig snouts! This was going to be a “Swifty Swine” pig race.

Soon, the eager little racers emerged from out of the shadows. Each pig was introduced by an appropriately racy name.

Then they were off and running, amidst the shrill sounds of squealing tires – sorry, pig squeals. Just like in a NASCAR race, the competitive porkers jockeyed for position, rubbing fenders – okay, shoulders, leaving a trail of dust in their wake. Back and forth they raced. Who would win? The crowd went wild. The winner crossed the line, the crowd cheered and it was all over.

Later in the day, in the infield area, an overflow crowd gathered in bleachers overlooking yet another oval racetrack. As race time approached, it was standing room only.

On the racetrack was a bright red, scale model, radio-controlled pickup truck. It was battered and banged up, which suggested that it had seen some pretty tough racing action, however this was not going to be an R/C race – at least not in the traditional sense.

This time, instead of pigs, turkeys took to the track, and they were behind the truck. In a flurry of wood chips or whatever was covering the track, the truck spun its tires and took off with the turkeys in hot pursuit. They were going after something that was in the bed of the pickup truck. My bet is that it was turkey feed.

Believe me, you wouldn’t want to mess with those turkeys. Lap after lap they chased after the truck and raced each other for their prize. Feathers were flying as the turkeys jostled each other and clawed at the ground for hard fought positions behind the pickup truck. The fans in the stands were going crazy. Oh, the spectacle of it! Round and round they raced, until the race was over.

When the dust settled, everyone was a winner. All of the turkeys were rewarded with whatever was in the bed of that truck.

That was fun but then it was our turn to race. Bumper cars anyone?

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Copyright © 2013 by Jan Wagner – #288