RENO HIGH ROLLERS

December 4th, 2009

Hitting the Jackpot at Hot August Nights

Maybe it was the prospect of winning big on the gaming tables or taking home a big-time trophy. Or maybe it was just too good a party to miss, but you’d never suspect the economy was down from the turnout at Hot August Nights in Reno, Nev. The numbers tell the story — a 10-day event with 6,600 cars, 800,000 visitors, and some $350 million impact to the local economy. The most important stat of all was the miles of smiles for all who rolled in for a world-class car extravaganza.


Maybe it was the prospect of winning big on the gaming tables or taking home a big-time trophy. Or maybe it was just too good a party to miss, but you’d never suspect the economy was down from the turnout at Hot August Nights in Reno, Nev. The numbers tell the story — a 10-day event with 6,600 cars, 800,000 visitors, and some $350 million impact to the local economy. The most important stat of all was the miles of smiles for all who rolled in for a world-class car extravaganza.

To call it a “car show” hardly does it justice, since the entire city becomes one humongous collection of cool vehicles of all years, makes and models, from rods to classics to character cars. Pre-’72 models are the main attraction, but just about anything is fair game if you want to join the party.

Now in its 23nd year, HAN has been rated as America’s No. 1 outdoor event, drawing spectacular cars from all over the country. Registration sold out for 2009, and there was a waiting list of more than 2,000 cars. What’s the attraction?

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.” Through the magic of Hot August Nights, they were able to recapture those wonderful days and times.

Longtime attendee Darryl Nance of D&P Chevy, who displayed a ’69 Camaro “Yenko Tribute” with a modern LS7 engine, feels it was the best year ever. His Full Yellow Jacket Chevelle, which recently appeared on our cover, was the celebrity pick for Sunday’s parade. “I’ve been attending for 20 years now, and each year the staff fine-tunes the event to make it even better,” he notes. “It’s a not a car show, but a car culture event. You blink and a week goes by, there’s so much going on. We stayed at the Grand Sierra Resort, and just kicked back and enjoyed the free concerts from the Temptations and Village People.”

Besides the spectacular scenery, both of the mechanical and natural type in the surrounding Sierras, there’s the amazing diversity of venues, as every major resort casino in town offers a place to party while showing off your set of wheels. In addition to checking out the cherry rides, participants can also take in dozens of concerts, and dance with an “Earth angel” at the prom. The entertainment lineup rocked out from morning until night on the five Hot August Nights stages — and all entertainment was free. The list of activities, from Twinkie-eating contests to Hula-hoop contests, was enough to give us indigestion, all in good fun.

If you didn’t drop all your dough at the casinos, you could find a classic car and parts to call your own at the Reno Swap Meet and Cool Car Showroom, the Silver Auction and the Big Boy Toy Store. Held at the convention center, the Silver Auction proved to be the mother lode, as cars and trucks of all types moved across the block at a steady clip, with many more waiting in the indoor display area.

So when you’re looking for a happenin’ destination next year, fire up those four-barrels and roll into Reno for Hot August Nights. You just might be in for a “Winner, winner, chicken dinner!”

Hot August Nights
www.hotaugustnights.net


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The “Duke of Earl” Merc cruised low and slow throughout the city.
One mean, green machine, a ’53 Willys Aero Eagle with a stroked 409.
This ’34 Ford Sedan Delivery looks ready from some back-roads deliveries.
Adding some class to the Peppermill casino and resort was a pristine ’34 Ford, complete with a bud vase on the doorpost.
A trio of tricked-out Tri-Fives.
The “Pie Wagon” is a rolling tribute to Hugh Hefner.
Different strokes for different folks — a pony car with extra room for haulin’ hay.
A big dog for a rat rod, spicing up the Peppermill Casino.
Wild and wooly ’41 Willys at the Atlantis.
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And now for something completely different, a rod from Miller’s Chop Shop with a ’34 LaSalle grille and a reversed mid-Sixties Chevy cab with a removable hardtop and a ’70 455 Buick between the rails. Look for it at Blackie’s next spring. It won Best of show at the Bonanza, and Best Truck at the downtown judging.
Bobbie Freeman tickled the ivories for onlookers while being towed by a Cadillac convertible.
One smokin’ hot AMX.
For those who wanted to drop the hammer, the Fernley Raceway hosted street drags during Hot August Nights.

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