Muscle Car Power Blows in to the Windy City

May 20th, 2011

Text and Photos by Bob McClurg

Chicago! The Midwest’s international hub for commerce, culture and finance. The Windy City, or Chi-Town–as it is known– is also home to some of the best sports teams in the majors, including the Chicago Hawks, the Chicago Bulls and the Chicago Bears. And now the Chicago suburb of Rosemont, or to be more specific, Rosemont’s Donald E. Stephens Convention Center is host to the Muscle Car & Corvette Nationals, one of the most prestigious indoor muscle car enthusiast events in the nation.

All told, 511 cars vied for honors in 17 categories ranging from Triple Diamond, Emerald, Gold, Silver and Bronze classifications. The mix of vehicles was evenly balanced with a large increase in participation this year from Pontiac, Buick, Oldsmobile, Ford and Mopar owners. Attendance had increased to the point that every spot in the expansive Donald E. Stephens Convention Center was sold out well in advance of the Nov. 20, 2010 opening date.

Hank and Diane Gabbert own Good Ol’ Mr. Wilson a ‘63 Chevrolet Z-11 Super Stock Impala SS that Jack May campaign out of Sox’s Sinclair Service. This was the unofficial team car for Ronnie Sox and Buddy Martin’s famed ‘63 Z-11 car.

The Muscle Car & Corvette Nationals or MCACN, is the brainchild of Executive Managing Member Utica, MI’s Robert “Bob” Ashton, who along with MCACN Executive Committee members Nickey Chicago’s CEO Stefano Bimbi; Milwaukee, WI’s Colin Comer,  Colin’s Classic Automobiles; Brighton Hills, IL’s Mike Guarise; Woodland, CA’s Charlie Lilliard; Midlothian, VA’s Tony Lucas; Valparaiso, IN’s Carl Schultz,;Henderson, NV’s Bill Sefton; Bariting Hollow, NY’s Steve Shauger and Las Vegas, NV’s Les Quam, throw their sizeable support behind the 2-year-old indoor event. “These gentlemen have allowed me to fulfill my dream of producing this world-class event devoted to vintage muscle cars, dealer-built supercars and Corvettes,” Ashton said.

Vintage AMCs were on the rise at MCACN, with this red, white and blue ‘70 AMC Rebel Machine owned by Canton, MI’s Tom Abrams being one of them.

Muscle Car Power magazine was among 19 celebrity judges—which included the likes of Arnie “Farmer” Beswick, Linda “Miss Hurst Golden Shifter” Vaughn, Doc “The Hurst Shifty Doctor” Watson, Martyn L. Schorr, Pontiac luminary Milt Schornack, Corvette racer Tony DeLorenzo, author Dr. Peter Gimenez, and others–all chosen to participate in the Celebrity Pick category. Bob John’s white ‘65 Plymouth A990 Altered wheelbase Funny Car turned out to be MCP’s odds on favorite!

Of course, an event of this magnitude also requires sponsors. The First National Bank of New York hosted Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals had some of the best, including Nickey Chicago as the event’s title sponsor, Bill Stasek Chevrolet as the event’s presenting sponsor, Mr. Norm’s Garage, The Finer Details Auto Restoration, Keisler Engineering, Musclecar Designs and Finish Line Performance all acting as MCACN Diamond Level Sponsors. Both Mid America Motorworks and D&M Corvette Specialists, Ltd. are listed as Platinum Level sponsors. Reliable Carriers, Inc. was listed as the Official Transporter of the MCACN, and Corvette Central proudly served as Official Sponsor for the Corvette Triple Diamond Gallery and Competition.

The Day 2 Concourse segment of the show saw increased interest with about 30 perceny more entries, and should be the fastest growing show segment in future MCACN events. The MCACN’s Triple Diamond Corvette Display and Competition, sponsored by Corvette Central, also saw a marked increase in entries with close to 40 1954-95 Corvettes entered, and nearly two-thirds were mid-year cars.

The MCACN’s Class of 1970 Invitational featured close to 40 cars, including [b]four Hemi ‘Cuda convertibles[/b], three GTO Judge convertibles and three Oldsmobile 442 W-30 convertibles! In a special tribute to the cars built by Warminster, Pennsylvania’s Hurst Performance, Inc. there were a total of 40 examples entered, including numerous Hurst-Indy 500 Pace Cars, the famed Hurst Hemi Under Glass III and Hurst Hairy Oldsmobile exhibition cars. Also on hand were Linda “Miss Hurst Golden Shifter” Vaughn, “Doc” Watson and special guest Joe Mondello.

The MCACN’s Motion Madness display proved to be the largest gathering of documented Baldwin-Motion Performance cars ever shown ever under one roof. Special Baldwin-Motion Performance guests included Joel “Mr. Motion” Rosen and former Motion Performance PR magnate, Motion Performance historian/author and former Cars Magazine editor Martyn L. “Marty” Schorr.

Event Title Sponsor Nickey Chicago rolled out a fleet of contemporary 2010/2011 Nickey’s, including their latest, an 1,100 rwhp, 3.2L Kenne-Bell Mammoth liquid cooled LS7 supercharged 427 Stage III 2011 Nickey Super Camaro!

Next year’s Muscle Car & Corvette Nationals will be held at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, Nov. 19-20, 2011. For a complete listing of the 2010 MCACN award winners, log on to (http://www NULL.mcacn

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