Power Trip: 41st annual Autorama car show is Sept. 17 in Beloit

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Greg Little
Wednesday, September 13, 2017

BELOIT—You don't need to know a transmission from a tie rod to understand cars are cool.

Sold standard with raw power and unique designs, cars can be tricked out with detailed paint and striping, lush interiors and polished, fine-tuned engines to help them stand out from the crowd. The only limitation is the owner's imagination.

From 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, some of the Midwest's most creative people will gather at Preservation Park, 3444 S. Riverside Drive, Beloit, to show their rides at the 41st annual Beloit Autorama.

Launched in 1977 with a field of 130 cars, Autorama has since evolved into a 1,000-plus car show with entries divided into classes such as street rod, custom, Corvette, antique, classic, truck, street machine, muscle car, 55-64 full-size Chevys and imports. Vehicles are parked in specific groups so attendees can see their favorites in the same area.

As of Sept. 7, organizer Todd Nelson said only 260 vehicle owners had registered for the 2017 show. That's not uncommon, and he's not overly concerned as the majority of participants wait until show day to see if the weather will cooperate before they register.
Nelson still expects more than 1,200 cars to show up Sunday.

“We're hoping the weather is good,” he said. “A couple of years ago, we got rained out. We have rain insurance now.”

Nelson said Autorama, which is a fundraiser for the Beloit Evening Lions Club, is the result of months of work by the Coachmen Street Rodders, Blue Ribbon Classic Chevy Club, Cranked Inc., the Lions Club and Lionesses.

Nelson estimates he and his crew spend between 300 and 400 hours preparing for the annual show. And here's the kicker: Despite being a car enthusiast, Nelson gets little chance to sit back and enjoy his handiwork.

“I've got a great group of people, and (Autorama) runs itself because everybody does their jobs,” he said. “But on that day, I'm so busy and I don't have time to look at (the cars). I'm walking around, specifically paying attention to what's going on and making sure everything is flowing smoothly.”

Along with the show, Autorama also features a parts swap, flea market and arts and crafts area, where more than 250 vendors sell special parts and collectibles. In addition, the car corral features more than 100 classic and performance cars that will be available for purchase.

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