The most recent show we shot was the Star City Motor Madness in Roanoke, Virginia. The origin of the name of the event became obvious as soon as we hit town. Looming over the city atop Mill Mountain is the largest illuminated man-made star in the world. It’s almost 90 feet tall and kinda hard to miss.
It was commissioned in 1949 by the city’s Merchant’s Association to kick off the Christmas shopping season and shortly thereafter Roanoke was nicknamed “The Star City of the South”. It’s a really nice town and the view of it from Mill Mountain is pretty cool.
This was the 9th year for the event, and it is held right downtown on Jefferson Street which is one of the main streets. It was originally created as a fundraiser to build a permanent automotive exhibit at the Virginia Museum of Transportation in Roanoke, and to date they have raised over a quarter of a million dollars. Currently the stars of this museum are a pair of massive steam locomotives, the Norfolk and Western Class A-1218 and the streamlined Class J-611; the most modern steam locomotives ever built.
Both of these babies were actually designed and built right in Roanoke in N & W’s own shops, so it’s appropriate to have them back where they came from.
Motor Madness kicked off with a cruise Friday night on Williamson Road which was basically Roanoke’s Woodward Avenue back in the day. Ironically, the city outlawed cruising on Williamson Road in the late 70’s as a way to try to control car-crazed young hoodlums. Now that we’re all car-crazed old hoodlums tho, the city has had a change of heart and once again embraces the tradition.
Probably close to a thousand cars hit the streets that night to the delight of the tens of thousands of spectators that lined both sides of the three-mile cruise strip. A good time was had by all.
The weather was perfect for the day of the show, albeit a bit toasty. The event had its best turnout ever with about 500 cars in attendance. The downtown setting was great, and there were some really interesting vehicles.
One of my favs was an extremely radical Salt Flats Bug.
This baby had an 8 inch chop, Indy car inspired front suspension, and a 2.8 liter V6 and drivetrain out of a Cavalier. The Cavalier is a front wheel drive car, but the whole set up was installed in back to drive the rear wheels of this bad-to-the-bone bug.
A ’52 Nash with its funky roll-back top and a killer ’63 M37 B1 military version of the Dodge Powerwagon also caught my eye.
I came across a rat rod that was made from (among other things) a ’59 Pontiac. Probably the coolest thing was that this car was built by an 18 year old, and mostly from found parts. I think this kid’s got a future in this hobby!
Rounding out the list was a car that belonged to Robert Bennett, one of the co-founders of the show. Robert collects movie cars, and he had brought the ’59 Caddy Ambulance that was from the first Ghostbusters, complete with all the ECE (Ectoplasma Containment Equipment). This thing was hilarious.
Star City Motor Madness is an event worth going to, and I think it’s going to make a great episode. Tomorrow, we’re off to Boise, Idaho for the 8th annual Northwest Motorfest. This is Idaho’s largest car show, and it should be good time. I thought it was pretty hot in Roanoke, but Boise’s forecast for the weekend is calling for highs of 98 degrees. It’s a dry heat out there tho. Right?