Biggest “Little” Car Show

December 6th, 2011

Text by Steve Temple

Photos by Steve Temple and Austin Price

Celebrating the 25th Anniversary of Reno’s Hot August Nights

While Reno calls itself the biggest little city, the Hot August Nights event held there is anything but small. Now in its 25th year, HAN is widely recognized as the largest classic car and nostalgia festival in the United States, selling out some 6,000 participant vehicle passes, and attracting a gazillion visitors. Way more than just a car show, it celebrates a simpler time with a diverse mix of ’72 or older vehicles, everything from rods to muscle cars to classics.

With such an enormous gathering of vehicles at each of the 10 major casino resorts in town, it’s no surprise that so many car enthusiasts flock to Reno for this red-hot revival. Besides all of the classic cars, rock n’ roll rules, so attendees can cut a rug at the free concerts featuring top entertainers and music of the ‘50s and ‘60s.

The appeal is obvious, as visitors echo a familiar refrain: “Just keep on giving us the good ol’ days where we can all escape the current craziness and return to some of the happiest times in our history.” And through the magic of Hot August Nights, they were able to recapture those wonderful days and times. Add to that pleasure cruises through town, show and shines, a sock hop and much more. For shopaholics, there’s the Classic Car Auction, Big Boys Toy Store and Hot August Nights Swap Meet.

Plus, returning this year after a 10-year absence was the Official Hot August Nights Classic Car Drag Racing event, staged at John Ascuaga’s Nugget. Sponsored by Full Throttle, a Reno engine tuner and car builder, the eighth-mile drags provided a secure place to relish the smell of burning rubber burnouts and high-octane gasoline, paired with classic eye candy and pedal-stompin’ racing for an adrenaline rush.

While HAN offers something for everyone, Reno in general is an enticing place to visit at other times of the year. There’s a wide range of attractions and resources for both visitors and residents alike. Besides HAN, Reno’s numerous allurements during the rest of the year include the motorcycle show Street Vibrations, a hot-air balloon race, rib cookoff, Cinco de Mayo, bowling tournaments and the Reno air races.

Modern Reno boasts a thriving cultural scene and a refurbished downtown area, along the scenic Truckee River and the recently completed Reno Aces baseball stadium. The thriving tourist industry is fueled not merely by the casinos, but by the many year-round resorts in the nearby mountains. In fact, for this year’s HAN, the kick-off parties and car gatherings started several days before up at Lake Tahoe. It’s all enough to make you wonder why they don’t call Hot August Nights the biggest show on earth! For information on next year’s Hot August Nights event go to (http://www NULL.Hotaugustnights

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