I recently had a chance to visit with Mel Carson, executive director of the Hornets Nest Region of the Antique Automobile Club of America.
The AACA is a nation-wide organization whose mission statement is to be America’s best resource for the collectible vehicle community. The Hornets Nest Region of the AACA produces the Charlotte Auto Fair (which includes a collector vehicle flea market and car sale) at Charlotte Motor Speedway each spring and fall. Carson indicated that the Hornet’s Nest Region has been using the speedway since 1978 to bring the public these two shows and that the growth of each has been phenomenal.
The Charlotte Auto Fair Spring show includes a “national” meet drawing around 350 to 400 cars and the Charlotte Auto Fair Fall meet includes a regional show that draws around 250 cars. Carson said the region he oversees has about 500 members, mostly from the Charlotte metro area. You can join the national AACA, based in Pennsylvania, by registering online at aaca.org and paying yearly dues of $35 (which includes your spouse), but if you wish to join the Hornets Nest Region of the AACA (which is basically your “local” office of the AACA located on Monroe Road in Charlotte) you must fill out a separate application and mail it back to their offices.
A background check will be conducted before membership is granted. Contact Carson or one of his staff at 704-841-1990 for more information.
There are some misconceptions about what goes on at AACA shows, especially with how they are conducted and what is required to participate. The requirements to participate in the AACA shows at the Charlotte Auto Fair depend on whether it’s the national show in the spring or the regional show in the fall. The national show requires AACA membership; the regional show does not. AACA shows are geared toward “factory original” – either in restored fashion or as unrestored or preserved. Carson said the Hornets Nest Region is working on getting a “modified” class at the regional show in September, but collector cars modified from original do not participate at national meets. Two other things are required – you must be able to drive your vehicle on to the show field under its own power, and each participant is required to have a fire extinguisher by the car. Also, the vehicle must be 25 years old or older.
Judging at AACA shows is done to a pretty high standard as each vehicle starts out with 400 points and points are deducted for condition, errors or omissions to get the grand total for the vehicle. You can expect a team of four or five judges to inspect your car, and each will be assigned a different area to judge. Judging does not require you to turn on the radio or lights, but its appearance must be to original standards.
Carson said many car owners ask about radial tires – the AACA policy is that if the car did not come with radials when originally manufactured then it’s not allowed to have radials on for judging. The first step in the AACA award hierarchy is to get what is called a “Junior” award (a first, second and third is awarded) and your vehicle must achieve First Junior status before you can pursue a “Senior” award (only one awarded here) at the next event. After obtaining Senior status you can either pursue a preservation or keep going and go after a Grand National first place awardh. However, you cannot get a Senior and a Grand National in the same year. The ultimate is to achieve Grand National Senior.
Carson and his staff are looking for interested and active members, so sign up with the Hornets Nest Region.
Bill Deaton of Fort Mill is the owner of B&D Business Services in Rock Hill and also a classic car enthusiast. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org for comments or if you have any story ideas.