It’s rainy days like these that leave most car enthusiasts at a loss when it comes to indulging in their hobby. In fact, a heavy drizzle, like the one I’m witnessing now, puts the nose of many different types of car enthusiast out of joint. The weekend country road racer will forgo a Sunday morning sprint, as standing water and spirited driving don’t usually mix. The old boy in the Jaguar E-type won’t risk water spots and spattered mud on his original paintwork. And the spanner-monkey would rather enjoy an afternoon inside watching EBay, than spend the afternoon in the rain replacing his brake pads. Then there are the car show goers. These guys will drive through ice and snow to show off their newly polished turbo manifold in their flamboyantly painted engine bay. Obviously I’m stereotyping here, but this devoted community are the real deal. They’ll turn up to as many events as they can fit in their calendar, armed with waterless wash, spray wax, and their Instagram primed phones. My friends constitute just a small fraction of this massive group, and proudly place their polished gems of cars on club stands for the mere mortal onlookers to flash their cameras at and drool over.
I, for a long time, had wondered what the attraction was, so I joined them at our local motoring festival for a weekend. The day started early with a questionable bacon sandwich from a lady who had more arm hair than I have leg hair, a participants’ meeting, and then a rally around the roads of my hometown alongside some classics such as a ’69 Camaro and a Lamborghini Diablo. The heat was blistering as we reached the final checkpoint of the rally, where we would park up and go and have a closer look at the cars we only saw briefly in our rear-view mirror, but my friends were perfectly at home, because this was the perfect weather for their reflective paint and there were models wearing hot pants. The day quickly came to an end, but the weekend was not over. On the Sunday the weather was unfortunately raining. But this was ok for my friends, because they were still surrounded by beautiful, fast cars. And also because there were models wearing hot pants.
For a moment I forgot I was merely testing the water, and got lost in the thought and planning of all the future events we were going to take by storm. There was TRAX at Silverstone later in the year, Japfest, and Santa Pod raceway gatherings. It was exciting. And the fact that it was raining turned into an afterthought behind the endless possibilities of people flashing their cameras and drooling over my car. I started contemplating private plates and shiny air intakes, even a sticker on the side of the car that had a link to my new Instagram account. It was at this point I knew it had gone too far.
The thing about car shows is that it turns into a bit of an obsession. An addiction almost, that urges you to remove the swirl marks from your car, to re-apply your carnauba wax once a week, and to wake at unsociable hours of the morning to get a good place on the stand and to be the first in line at the hairy bacon sandwich stand. I myself am guilty of giving in to this addiction. There was something so good about being part of the show, being part of the atmosphere and not just a bystander. You walk around with air under your feet and with a smug look on your face because you know just 100 feet away, your car is sat under a club banner next to other cars posing with trophies won from previous events. My car was never good enough to win anything. My only bragging right being the water droplets formed from rain hitting my waxed and sealed paintwork, but for that moment I was part of this devoted community. I would brave wet and hostile weather with my friends because the enthusiasm, excitement and ambience was just so infectious. And not just because we would be surrounded by beautiful, fast cars and models wearing hot pants.