Car lovers...Rev your engines

By Melissa Hirschl

Car enthusiasts around the Valley are putting the finishing touches on their “true sweethearts”--the resplendent cars they love to tinker with, polish and passionately slave over.

These dedicated aficionados are revin’ up for Saturday, Jan. 8, the day Arizona Community Church offers its annual Motorsports Day, a free family car show that displays hundreds of eclectic cars and even some motorcycles.

The show will include an impressive array of machines, such as classic and vintage cars, dragsters, street rods, motorcycles, imports, funny cars, rally cars, muscle cars and more. While there will be no judging, competitions or trophies, the event offers a marvelous opportunity to feast your eyes on some of the snazziest cars around.

This is the seventh season for this gem of a show that has grown from 50 vehicles on display in its first year to 350 this year.

Sponsored by ACC’s Frontline Ministry, the show is patterned after a similar one in Pennsylvania.

“We originated the show for two reasons,” says John Hill, committee chairperson. “One was to get people to ‘cross our curb’ and explore our church. The other…was for an outreach program to the community.”

The community, it seems, has been eager to respond.

Chandler resident Debbie Benson, for example, will show off her 1932 Ford Roadster and 1937 Ford Sedan.

“This is a fun day,” she says. “I look forward to relaxing and having a great time with my friends who also have cars. It’s also a wonderful networking opportunity.”

Partnering with the church in Motorsports Day is Racers for Christ, a Gilbert-based motor sports ministry whose motto is “Bringing Inspiration to the World of Motorsports.”

These dedicated ordained chaplains provide Sunday morning chapel service, pastoral care, outreach and Christian fellowship for racers, crew members, sponsors and spectators.

Drag racing

To the delight of racing fans, the National Hot Rod Association Checker Auto Parts nitro funny car will be on display.

This full-blown dragster that can go from zero to 100 miles an hour in about .9 seconds, according to Hill, is built around a carbon fiber replica body of a Chevrolet Monte Carlo. “The body itself pops up to divulge a chassis with a monster motor,” he says.

“The top half gives the car the aerodynamics, so the car can move as smoothly as possible through the air; it also provides down force for better handling and traction--absolute necessities for drag racing.

“In addition, it runs on nitro-methane racing gasoline, a rocket propellant that gives the car about 8,000 horsepower.”

Amazingly, these cars actually need two parachutes that deploy to slow them down at the finish line. It’s no wonder Hill refers to them as “controlled rage.”

Another unique type of car that will be displayed will be dragsters, long-wheel-based racing cars with long rails and wings. They sometimes have the driver sitting in front of the engine. These cars go to 335 mph in about 4.5 seconds, so they are a bit faster than the funny cars.

Not all cars at this show will be rubber-burning racers. For instance, the rally cars that will be displayed are typically run off-road on an obstacle course in the woods.

They perform in a natural environment such trees and puddles.

“Sometimes you can see these events on WRC (World Rally Championship) on (cable TV’s) Speed Channel,” says Hill.

For James Dean wannabees, the show will offer a variety of mint-condition and show-quality street and hot rods”--cars built from the 1920s through the ‘50s.

“They are typically Ford roadsters and are very elaborately decorated,” says Hill. “They have big engines, lots of shiny chrome and dazzling paint jobs.”

A sampling of these nostalgic cars include Studebakers, Chevys, Fords, Packards, Oldsmobiles, Plymouths, Chryslers, Pontiacs and Buicks.

Muscle cars will also be sharing the spotlight with the rods. These are high performance American factory-produced sport cars built between 1964-1972.

“These are regular cars that have been beefed up and made more powerful, says Hill. “They have stronger transmissions and stronger engines--basically stock cars on steroids.” 

Motorcycle trials

Balance and precision timing is everything for seven-time Arizona state champ motorcylist Todd Roper and his 11 year old son Bryan, a two-time national champion. Both will be on hand to demonstrate their prowess at motorcycle acrobatics.

The two typically wow crowds by jumping high performance bikes from boulders to ledges and rocks in a natural setting.

“They can even maneuver the bikes while standing on them,” says Hill.

At the show, the duo will be performing some examples of their skills on stage at 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m.


American models won’t be the only cars turning heads at this show. The sexy and sleek Pantera is one example of an exotic sports car that will be on display, compliments of the Arizona Chapter of the Pantera Owners Club.

There will be a variety of high-end exotic cars such as Datsuns and Nissans sponsored by the Desert Z Association (a Nissan/Datsun car club). Fifteen to 20 members will be on hand to promote their cars.

To witness all this razzle-dazzle up close, come out to the show, which runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Remember, it’s free, and the entire community is invited.

If you decide to show your car, remember that there are no stipulations on make, year or model. There is no entry fee to show your car. Show participants will receive a free commemorative event gift and two free lunch tickets, including two free raffle tickets (driver and one guest).
Arizona Community Church is located at 9325 S. Rural Road in Tempe just north of Corona del Sol High School. Phone: (480) 491-2210.

Spectator parking (including disabled) will be in the student parking lot at Corona. Lunch tickets, which buy a hot sandwich, chips, cookie and cold drink, are available for $5. There will also be a kids area. Grand prize drawing is at 1:45 p.m. You must be present to win.

The first 400 children ages three to 12 receive a free Hot Wheels car. For additional information or if you would like to display your vehicle, contact John Hill at (602) 505-4247.