During the 2012 car show, Autom Redford sits in a classic Mustang. [File photo by Tom Haraden / Moab Sun News]

Ever wonder what’s under the hood of a ’57 Chevy? This weekend will be your chance to find out. About 500 classic cars, hot rods, trucks, street rods, antique vehicles, and more, will roll into town for a weekend of cruising, engine revving, and showcasing for the 22nd-annual April Action Car Show.

Long-time Moab resident and show participant Rick Thompson looks forward to the show every year. The proud owner of a 1970 Chevelle SS, Thompson says, “people ask me all year if I’m going to show my car, so I enjoy the opportunity to get it out.”

The number of cars at the show has more than doubled since its inception in 1993, and this year, about 500 are expected. People come from as far away as California and Connecticut, though most are from Colorado and Utah. Thompson credits the popularity of the show to Moab’s good early-spring weather.

“We have the scenery,” he said. “It’s a great place to be.”

Rotary Club car show organizer John Fogg said he agrees that the car show in Moab is recognized as one of the best in the region. He and Thompson both credit the town with having a friendly attitude toward the event.

“The Friday-night cruise practically shuts down Main Street,” Fogg said. “It draws 8-to-10 thousand spectators. The support of the community is tremendous.”

For participants, the action begins on Friday morning with a “Rod Run” up the “River Road,” state Route 128, which follows the Colorado River up to Castle Valley. It ends with a run up to Dead Horse Point State Park on Sunday. For spectators, unofficial cruise nights on both Friday and Saturday provide an opportunity to see hundreds of classic cars cruising up and down Main Street.

But the main event starts at 8 a.m. Saturday morning, at Swanny City Park, where all participating vehicles will be on display. There is no charge for admission, and spectators can inspect an array of chrome, custom paint, modified engines, and meticulously-cared-for antique cars, trucks, and motorcycles that date back to the 1920’s.

Thomspon said the camaraderie between car owners is what he likes about the event.

Judging goes on during the morning with a trophy award celebration at 3 p.m. There are both stock and modified classes with awards given for each decade of manufacture. Special classes such as “Best Mustang,” “Best Camaro,” and “Best Modified Truck,” add to the mix, as well as honorary awards given by the mayor, police chief, and sheriff. A “Peoples Choice” and a “Best of Show” award will also be given.

New to the event this year will be a sock hop dance contest with a 50’s motif. Prizes will be given for the best dancers as well as the best dressed, the best hair-do, and for the person who can blow the largest bubble-gum bubble.

Although the show draws mostly classic cars and hot rods, there are no specific criteria, and many types of vehicles have made appearances over the years. Trucks, motorcycles, and even tractors have been shown.

When asked about the strangest thing he has seen at the show, Fogg says, “It would have to be the Dog-Cat-Rat Guy,” a man named Gregory Pike, who achieved fame traveling across the country on a tractor, towing a series of trailers with his pets; a dog, a cat, and a rat, who rode stacked on top of one another.

Nevertheless, the cars reign supreme, and this year Fogg says, show organizers are looking forward to seeing an original, 1965 Shelby Cobra, which he says is worth close to $1 million, as well as a classic Porsche of similar value that the owner is having shipped over from Japan.

This is the second year that the event is produced by the Moab Rotary Club, which took over the reins from area-resident Jim Mattingly. Mattingly produced the show for 10 years, and prior to that, it was run by the Moab Rod Benders Car Club. Fogg, who is also a past vice president of Rod Benders, is excited about the Rotary Club taking on the event. He says the club’s goal is to, “maintain the high quality and continuity of the event that the club started, and to provide something for the community.”

Participants pay $35 to register, and all proceeds from the show go to local charitable organizations like Seekhaven, Grand County Mentoring, the Youth Garden Project, and the Moab Valley Multicultural Center. In addition, registrants are asked if they would like to donate to the Grand County Education Foundation.

Thompson and Fogg both remember when the Rod Benders Car Club started out. It was just a group of car buffs in the late ’80’s who used to meet at the Branding Iron restaurant, the Moab Diner, or sometimes at the park. They would hang out, talk about cars, and go for cruises.

Some early enthusiasts included local residents Kay Tangren, Jim and Val VanDerview, and Andrea and Duke Winters, who owned his-and-hers, 1934 Chevy trucks that Duke Winters built from the chassis up. They formed the club in 1992 with Rod Petty serving as president. They put on their first official car show on in April 1993.

Thompson remembers when they went to the city with their proposal for a car show.

“They wanted to know how many cars we were going to have; we counted up about 25, and 250 showed up,” Thompson said.

When asked to sum up what the show is about, Fogg answered immediately, “Nostalgia. It takes you back to the good old days.”

April Action Car Show brings nostalgia to Moab for 22nd time

“The Friday-night cruise practically shuts down Main Street. It draws 8-to-10 thousand spectators. The support of the community is tremendous.”

When: Saturday, April 26, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Where: Swanny City Park

Cost: Free