Famous Potatoes

Illinois is the “Land of Lincoln”. New Mexico; the “Land of Enchantment”. And Colorado is “Colorful”. But Idaho is one of the few states that herald a type of produce on their license plates which proudly read, “Famous Potatoes”!

Last weekend the state was also the setting for the Northwest Motorfest; Idaho’s largest car show. It’s held on the grounds of the Idaho Expo in Boise, and you don’t have to be there long before you learn that it’s pronounced, Boic-e, not Boyz-e; thank you very much!

In addition to the typical car show stuff, this event also had numerous side attractions; things like holeshot and burnout contests.

My Classic Car - Northwest Motorfest

I’m not sure, but I think the meteorological term for the cloud that is rising from behind this Chev is cumulorubberus.

My Classic Car - Northwest Motorfest

It also had things more specific to the Northwest, like V8 chainsaw demonstrations. Now, that’s just crazy!

Throw in the Wall of Death and rock crawling demos, and this was a veritable three-ring circus.

I have a soft spot in my heart for Idaho since I lived at the other end of the state up in Moscow for nearly 5 years and went to grad school at the University of Idaho. Go Vandals! And I’m always looking for an excuse to get back out there.

My Classic Car - Northwest Motorfest

Southern Idaho is more arid than the northern part of the state and when you look at the smoothly rolling hills that make up much of the terrain around Boise, you can tell that it was once the floor of a massive lake 15,000 or so years ago.

And did I mention it was hot? We shot the show on Saturday, and it was 98 degrees with a bright blue sky. Yeah, I know it’s a “dry heat”, but that’s still really hot! Fortunately there were more than enough cool cars around to keep the whole thing manageable.

This was the 8th year for the Northwest Motorfest, and it’s a really great event. As I mentioned, there’s a lot going on over the course of the weekend, but at the core of it all is a car show that drew nearly 900 cars.

There was everything at this show from the most refined, like this ’54 Buick Skylark, to the most extreme, like this blown ’29 Nash rat rod.

My Classic Car - Northwest Motorfest

My Classic Car - Northwest Motorfest

Honestly, I had always felt the ’54 Skylark was a bit clunkier looking than the ’53 Skylark. They had added stuff in ’54 that “heavied” the car up, and it never worked for me. But then I ran across this killer ’54 convertible in Lido green with the white inner fender wells that just blew me away. This rare stock color combo softened everything and really worked on this car.

The rat rod looked like something out of an Ed Roth nightmare; and I’ll bet Ed’s “normal” dreams were already pretty weird. It started out as a ’29 Nash (I think?). There was some pretty interesting frame and drivetrain engineering, and the absurdly-blown big block Ford truck engine was a nice touch. I think it was the “Super Single” rear tires that got me tho. I had never heard of these, but they are apparently the equivalent of semi truck duals in a single tire; and that’s big.

My Classic Car - Northwest Motorfest

There was a great ’61 Plymouth Fury mild custom that the owner had found stuffed away in a garage two doors down from his house and bought for a couple grand. All it needed was some minor body work and a repaint. He went with a lime green metal flake with a silver large metal flake top. This really set off the wild lines on this car. Still sporting the original interior and 318 engine, this baby is driven everywhere.

My Classic Car - Northwest Motorfest

A car that I hadn’t seen for a long time was this ’66 Merc Monterey. I had forgotten how long and straight these cars were. This thing is the size of a Suburban. Really cool integration of the taillights and signal lights in the styling, and a stately yet aggressive stance. Ah, Merc; I miss you already! Altho it had been de-badged, the door handles shaved, and a functional Boss 429 hood scoop added, I would say this car was more “personalized” than “customized”. It still had a lot of its already-cool-from-the-factory original design DNA. I really liked this car.

My Classic Car - Northwest Motorfest

It was hard to miss this ‘37 street-legal drag Topolino. Think about it tho; none of those words seem like they should go together. The Fiat Topolino is a tiny little car, and its name means “little mouse” in Italian, but this baby was more like Mighty Mouse. A custom frame and a crate 350 with zoomie exhaust made it look like it would be a blast to drive. But you better like your passenger, because you are going to be really close to them!

It takes every minute we have at a show to get enough footage to make an episode, but we still have to eat. I usually live on beef jerky during a shoot because it’s quick, packed with protein, and can withstand the elements. Ben, the producer/shooter, on the other hand needs real food to survive. Wuss. Something about lugging around a 20 pound camera all day in near 100 degree heat. Yada yada.

One of the challenges on the road in general, and particularly at a car show, tho is finding something at least marginally healthy to eat. And as we strolled Food Row in the early afternoon in search of sustenance, it wasn’t looking nutritionally pretty, but then suddenly, right at the intersection of Corndog and Funnel Cake, there he was; Chris “Saladman” Olson.

My Classic Car - Northwest Motorfest

Saladman has been a fixture at events in the area for ten years, and he whipped us up a couple huge crab Louis’ that were to die for. Trust me, the beef jerky will keep till the next shoot; in fact, probably till the next season.

My Classic Car - Northwest Motorfest

The day was capped off with the Capitol City Cruise. The city had dedicated several blocks of downtown Boise to cruisers only, and several hundred cars took the opportunity to roll past the state capitol building for a couple hours in the early evening under beautiful skies. Life is good.

The show went on again Sunday, but Ben & I blew out of town at 6:30 in the morning bound for E’ville. This week we’ve been in the office finishing the remaining new episodes for the 2010 season and also working on a new project. Next week I’m off to Pasadena for my final SEMA Board of Directors meeting. I’m finally terming out after 7 years on the SEMA Board. I’ll also be attending the SEMA Cares car show while I’m out there on Saturday, July 25. This is a fundraiser for SEMA’s two charities; Childhelp and Victory Junction Gang.

The following weekend tho I’ll be back in the production saddle when we shoot the Z-Car Convention at the Nissan Headquarters in Franklin, TN. I’ve been brushing up on handy Japanese phrases and believe it or not, “dou itashimashite” (which is pronounced an awful lot like “Don’t touch the mustache”) means, “You’re welcome”. I think that phrase is going to come in handy for me in both Japanese and English.

Happy Motoring,

  1. Mike S. Briggs says:

    Mr. Gage,
    I love what you said about my Dad’s car the 66 Merc Monteray. I have seen your show when I’m at my Dad’s house and you do a great job of showing off people’s cars. You Blessed my Mom and Dad by featuring their beautiful car. You should have taken it for a ride it is extremely smooth!

  2. Jeannette Henley says:


    Thanks so much for coming to Northwest Motorfest! It was a pleasure having you there and getting to meet you. I hope you had a great time, and consider returning again in the future!

  3. Charlie Kocher says:

    Great to follow where the show is in 2010 to look forward to upcoming episodes. Question— Why does Speed channel preempt, move and otherwise mess with airings of MCC? This morning we tuned in and MCC was joined ‘in progess” because another show ran overtime and it wasnt a race—just a how-to show—MCC deserves better!

  4. Joel Ayres says:

    Dennis, as usual your blogs are fantastic and funny. Thanks for the plug on the SEMA Show N Shine and the the two charities, Childhelp and Victory Junction. Thanks for helping to make these kid’s lives a little better. See you in Pasadena.

  5. Marc Moreau says:

    Hi Dennis,

    I will be driving my 1972 240Z down to Nashville next week to attend the 2010 Z Convention. I look forward to meeting you as you film this Z Convention for your show. Based on the record number of registrations, it should be an awesome event.

    I was raised to be a very humble and down to earth person who would never contemplate posting a shameless self promotion on a blog site such as yours. Having said that…..I would would be more than happy to show you my 240Z which I have spent the better part of the last three years “refreshing”. I had the exact same car back in my college days. It was a white 1972 240Z, 4 spd, with red interior that I had restored in the late 70′s. I dated my wife in that first Z car. I kept the wife but sold the Z car in 1985. Over time I really regretted selling the Z so I spent nine years searching for an unmolested, rust free, and mostly stock white with red interior 72 240Z. I found this car in New Hampshire of all places. It had been a daily driver California car for the first 25 years of its life. The PO relocated to NH and only took it out on nice summer days. The car has 260,000 miles on it and I have been working to bring it back to completely stock. I would be happy to email you some pictures if you would like.

    See you in Nashville!

  6. Jeannette McLaughlin says:

    My husband and I both love your program–always entertaining and informative. We both think you should head to coastal far Northern California and the small town of Fortuna the 4th weekend in July for our AutoExpo event. This year was our 20th anniversary. We shut down Main Street to accomodate about 300 classic cars with about another 300 showing in other parts of town. This year we had about 20000 people in attendence over the 3 day event. Along with the car show, there is a Friday night cruise that has become a very special event. Check out the website: http://www.redwoodautoxpo.com.

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