Words by: Andrew Smith
Photos by: Brandon Deuster
Car Shows are the cornerstone of the car scene. They bring people together and showcase new trends. They attract big name performance companies and local modification shops. Car shows bring a lot of good to the car culture that we value so highly. But it’s not all positive. Car shows also bring out bitterness and ridicule of those who choose to be different. When the import car shows started, it was all about being different; now it is simply about following a trend and doing it “bigger” than the next guy. Creating your own style and unique vision is not important, becoming Instagram famous is. When you build a vehicle to try and be showcased on a popular online blog instead of doing what you truly want, it pushes the import scene into a regression that I don’t forsee us coming out of anytime soon.
I equate the car scene to that of a high school. There are different factions; the jocks, goths, nerds, and the popular kids; similar to the muscle car crowd, the diesel truck crew, the classic car people, and the import crowd. There are many individual and diverse facets within each group of people, but each group shares a common interest and goal that unites them. It is no hidden secret that different groups tend to be at odds with the other groups. Muscle car guys tend to not understand the new trend of slammed, extremely cambered and stanced import cars, and import guys just can’t seem to fathom how anyone could want to build a muscle car that looks exactly like it did as a stock car. To only approve of one side and ignore the other, or even completely disrespect the other side, is the problem with today’s car culture. When Street Certified was created, the goal was to create an event where all were welcome, regardless of what kind of car they had or the level of customization done to it. The goal was to create the most memorable show possible, while brining the scene together and creating a family.
As many of you know, I am one of the members of Street Certified. I spend a lot of my time with the team working on putting on the best possible shows that we can. Our goal is not just to create a car show, but to create an experience that you will remember for years to come. When was the last time you saw a pizza eating contest, a best beard contest, or a local music act performing on stage at a car show? This is what Street Certified is; more than just a car show.
Our first event this year was a combination event with Milwaukee Track Days. Our goal was to provide excitement on the track while the car show and other aspects of the show took place inside. Our event was Saturday May 30th, at the Milwaukee Mile in West Allis, Wisconsin. We had everything planned; the stage, the skateboard ramps, the models, the DJ, the awards, the pizza eating contest, the radio advertisements, the 102.9 The HOG Rock Girls appearance. There was so much going on that we had been running around for months just trying to make sure that everything was covered. The turnout was going to be huge as we expected close to 5,000 people to come by throughout the day. As the day approached we became more and more nervous as the weather indicated heavy rain all day. With determination and hope in our eyes we pushed on hoping for the best.
The day came and it was hell. Beyond hell. Without going into the details, the crew arrived at 7am and by 3pm everyone we could not handle anymore. A large number of cars showed up and braved the weather, and we decided that we needed to thank them for their time. We decided that the awards should be handed out early and that we should let everyone head home early. Freezing cold and completely soaked, we stood on the stage and handed out the awards the best we could do. People were not happy. I will be the first to admit that there were some mistakes made. There are no excuses, we simply tried out best. Around 4pm we shut down the show and sent everyone home. If you drove your car to the show, you passed me as I directed traffic out the back of the track. I was cold and miserable, but I did my best to get people out in a timely fashion and without any incidents. As soon as the last of the spectators cleared out and the cars exited the track, the complaining began. From not being happy with the choices for winners, to stopping the show early, it seemed like so many had problems with how the day turned out. I arrived home just as the weather began to break for the better. Facebook blew up with people complaining about how the show should have continued on as the weather was finally nice and they were now on their way to the show. How fantastic; people who decided not to come all day are going to complain about it closing early after hundreds of people had braved the weather to stay all day. Two members of Street Certified were on the literal verge of hypothermia. As I stood in the shower I felt a wave of emotions role over me. At first I was pissed; how dare people bash us for something completely out of our control. That quickly turned to disappointment, to a feeling of utter uselessness. How can we plan something for so long, risk tens of thousands of dollars, and have everything go so terribly wrong? It was at that moment that I realized that something needed to be done. As I laid on the couch reading all of the posts both defending and criticizing our show just hours prior, the wheels were put in motion for Street Certified 1.5.
At that time we had no idea what it would be or how we would do it, but we knew something had to be done. Our main focus was those who supported us, our vendors. The first thing we did was reach out to our vendors and ask them a simple question; “If we had another show, would you like to come back”. The responses were 100% uniform, absolutely. It was at that point we knew exactly what had to be done, a show dedicated to our vendors. We began searching for venues to accomodate a show. After some searching and some group discussion, we decided on the Milwaukee County Sports Complex in Franklin WI. We invited our original vendors back, setup the layout, and met with the county parks employees to plan the event. Over the next few nights I created the layout, planned vendor locations, blocked entrances, and communicated with the parks crew to make sure that we were all prepared for Sunday. A week before Street Certified 1.5, we were all set to go. Compared to our original show, this was much easier and quicker to plan. Don’t take this to mean it was a breeze, those who have planned and operated a car show understand just how much effort it actually requires to have it run successfully. The day before the show, I headed down to Hot Import Nights in Chicago to relax and enjoy the night before our show. I got home rather late that night and began to pack up for the show the following morning. I unhooked my home stereo system, got the cooler ready, pulled the picture frames off of the walls and grabbed my Midwest Automotive banner to hang in our tent. I went to bed feeling quite confident in the plan, and excited that the weather was looking like it would turn out to be a great day.
The morning of was busy, I loaded the cars and headed out to the location. We quickly decided to combine the Midwest Automotive booth and the Street Certified booth, and set up the stereo and laid out the shirts and trophies. We were ready for our vendors to start arriving.
At this point everything begins to run together. Vendors started arriving, show cars began to line up to enter, and the lot began to fill up. Everything was going perfectly and we began to let cars enter about 11:20am, ten full minutes before schedule. Everything was going perfect. Then, about 12pm, we realized that our food truck vendor had never showed up. After some frantic phone calls, it was obvious that the food truck was not showing. Because we had planned on a food vendor of our very own, the county and the facility did not have the ability to sell food the day of, only the beverages that they were planning on selling. It was quickly decided that the only option that we had was to scramble and grab a grill. It was at this point that my parents and my grandparents arrived to check out the show and see how everything was going. We sent Patrick and Ricky out to go grab my grill from house, and I asked my parents if they would be willing to head to Pick N Save to buy some food to grill. As always, without any hesitation, they jumped up and asked if there was anything else that they could do to help. On this day of beautiful weather and complete perfection, they were the unsung heros who held the show together. Within an hour we had my grill going, my parents, my grandparents, and my sister cooking behind the grill. We apologize that we were a little slow, but we were overall happy with the results for a last minute scrambling together to come up with an option for food.
Unique vehicle to show up at the show! Props at car shows are very common in the classic car world, but don’t wind up at many import car shows. We were very excited to see this setup being shown. In fact, it won one of our bananas for best prop!
One of the more fun props that have been showing up recently, is the incorporation of the stanced/slammed style into everyday objects. From skateboards to wagons to strollers, people are really getting into the spirit! FD’s always draw a lot of attention, especially LS swapped examples. Mike recently debuted his new air setup. Keep on the lookout for future photos of this beautiful vehicle! One of the most beautiful, and rare cars of the 90’s. So very glad to see this at the show. This was absolutely perfectly done, and did a fantastic job of molding the new stanced style with a classic body. VW’s certanly love their Euro plates!I shot Dan’s prior VW before he sold it to pick up this wagon. His roof box also one of the bananas!
One of our very own, Jeremy was adamant about getting his car finished to make it to the show. You may remember, his car was our first feature story on the website. Take a look HERE! Notice the Midwest Automotive sticker in the windshield?! Beki’s Evo always gets a LOT of attention! Tri’s GTR always draws a crowd. He wasn’t able to arrive until late due to some prior plans, but it was great to have him show up! Matt’s car is what I consider to be just about the perfect Subaru. I love the color combo and the attention to detail. This little minion got a lot of laughs throughout the day. At one point I ran past and noticed a Midwest Automotive sticker on the back of its head! Wagovan! Bobby’s car is one of the most unique out there. A car that just never seemed to sell as well as I thought it would, and the color theme throughout really pulls the whole car together. Jason Brant of Raven One media and Function:Error working his video magic! Check out his Automotion coverage HERE! One of the members of Street Certified, Andrew’s Evo is looking better every day. And notice the Midwest Automotive sticker again! And one of my favorite cars, my buddy Stephen and his girlfriend Krisandra’s 2g. Completely built, with a level of attention to detail that I have not seen in a long time. The engine bay on this car is simply beautiful. Krisandra took the utmost care while finishing the engine bay, and you can clearly see it was all well worth it. I can’t wait for the car to be tuned and some break in miles put on, and the body work that will be coming shortly. You better believe that we will be having a full story on this thing soon.
As the show continued on, I could not help but take a step back and look at the turnout. All of our friends were there, the vendors were enjoying themselves, and most importantly, the weather was absolutely perfect. About 2:45pm we closed the gates and began the closing portion of our show. We held the beast beard contest, and then began to hand out the awards.
It was at this time that the single greatest moment of the show happened. Just a few weeks prior, WPC (Wolf Pack Crew) held a charity car show in the Wisconsin Dells for Street Certified. While Street Certified was getting bashed by some shortly after our original show, the outpouring of support that we received was overwhelming. With everyone wanting to help, WCEC (Wisconsin Car Enthusiast Club) and WPC both held charity car shows to help support SC and repay some of the losses we incurred from our first show. Alex Martinez the founder of WCEC (who we had previously interviewed on this very site HERE) had sent the SC team a check a week prior to the show in which the entire team was extremely grateful for. Since WPC was going to be at the show, they wanted to hand deliver the check to Pat. They grabbed the megaphone from Vicky, and began to talk. After presenting a large check to Pat, we were absolutely blown away when they then announced that they wanted to donate another check from their new fabrication shop (Top Shelf Performance and Fabrication). It was at this point that the emotions became too much for Pat to handle. To see the raw emotion from this moment on the faces of the SC members, especially Pat, is what this whole community is about. Just beyond the large circle of people gathering around for this special moment, sat a Pontiac GTO, a Datusn 240z, a widebody Porsche 911, a Toyota Pickup with a massive V8 popping out of the hood, numerous Subarus, a brand new C7 Z06, and even a few 1970’s classic muscle cars. This is what it is all about. Putting aside the petty differences of who hates stanced cars and who hates V8’s. Who hates import cars and who hates American muscle. To have a group of individuals who all enjoy different aspects of the same overall umbrella, come together to support a group that wants nothing more than to include everyone and every type of vehicle, is simply what we at Street Certified dream about. That moment will stay with me for life.
The banana awards were a big hit. Because this show was a relaxed show dedicated to our vendors, we felt it appropriate to give out some fun awards instead of the typical car show awards where people argue over and feel jilted. After tossing around a few ideas for trophies, Zach came across little “Top Banana” awards that we all immediately fell in love with. We ordered two dozen and decided that we would having special “hidden” award categories that only the two people judging would know. Not even the rest of the SC team knew what the categories were, all we knew was that they would not be the typical “Best Subaru/Best Honda” awards. We loved the idea, and the audience also enjoyed the relaxed, fun atmosphere that handing out banana awards provided. Some of these categories included; best air install, biggest wing, best prop, biggest lip, most devoted, and other fun categories that are rarely ever awarded prizes for. The response was extremely positive, so I expect to see this become a staple of the Street Certified shows for years to come.
Overall the show was a huge success. I honestly could not have hoped for a better turnout. I want to give a big thanks to my parents and grandparents for grilling out all day. You did not come expecting to work, but you jumped at the chance to volunteer last minute. Without them the food truck fiasco could have ruined an otherwise perfect day. To my fiancé, for giving me the time and help I needed to be able to plan the show, and for helping on the day of. I wanted to give a big thank you to the entire Street Certified crew for all of their help. To all of our vendors for braving the weather with us the first time, and coming back out again to support SC. And most importantly, especially to all of those of you who came out to either our original show or Street Certified 1.5. Without all of you it would never have been possible.
If you have read this far, I applaud you. This is by far the most in depth event coverage that we have done to date. However I felt it was necessary to give a little background into what I experienced, as well as the entire Street Certified team, over the last few months. I thank you for your support both in Street Certified as well as in Midwest Automotive. You guys are the reason we do this.
Street Certified and Midwest Automotive