• When you click on links to various merchants on this site and make a purchase, this can result in this site earning a commission. Affiliate programs and affiliations include, but are not limited to, the eBay Partner Network.

Car show judging

67Survivor!

Well-Known Member
Local time
9:52 AM
Joined
Dec 19, 2023
Messages
69
Reaction score
112
Location
Upstate NY
Every year I volunteer to help at our village car show and every year the judging is a cluster f***. They wait until the day of the show to recruit judges and it always causes controversy. I mentioned that they should refine the judge selection process and the judging criteria as well. No one listened. They have about 20 categories for 200 cars. Here's my question, what's the best criteria for selecting judges? Hardcore car guys? I've been to shows where the participants actually did the judging. Is the car count to trophy category off?

Thanks!
 
These days most shows are participant judging. Having cars judged by assigned judges is primarily a major show/national level show thing. With judged shows they typically have sheets that have different categories like interior, trim, paint, trunk, engine compartment where they give points for each area with specific criteria for condition and sometimes even stricter criteria like OEM parts or repro, date coding etc. Judges are recruited based on knowledge of the type of car, and factors that make for a high level restoration or custom.
For a show like you are describing, participant judging is far more appropriate. Not that participant judging doesn't have its own problems, where many participants vote for friends or fellow car club members etc. Our Mopar club does participant judging for all our shows around here, which range from 125-400 or so cars. I have bad feet/legs and am usually mostly out of steam to walk all over the show in the middle of the day when they make the announcement that ballots are being handed out, and haven't bothered picking up one and trying to judge cars for the last few years of our shows, which makes me feel guilty when I end up hearing my name called for a plaque at awards. I need to put a "do not judge" sign on my dash....
I really prefer evening cruise type events nowdays, leave when you want, no awards typically or if there are, a couple best car choices I am not sure how they pick!
Some car owners really love their awards though and having a chance to win a trophy motivates them to go to shows. So as much as I am burned out on trophies at local or casual shows, "thats just me".
 
Every year I volunteer to help at our village car show and every year the judging is a cluster f***. They wait until the day of the show to recruit judges and it always causes controversy. I mentioned that they should refine the judge selection process and the judging criteria as well. No one listened. They have about 20 categories for 200 cars. Here's my question, what's the best criteria for selecting judges? Hardcore car guys? I've been to shows where the participants actually did the judging. Is the car count to trophy category off?

Thanks!
It can all be a cluster. Spectators can vote for a particular car that their buddy owns and it may not be nice enough for a trophy. THen it's just a popularity contest. If you are choosing a judging panel, it should be car enthusiasts and make sure they are familiar with at least the big 3 manufacturers with a street rod and or antique fan in the mix. Participant judging can work although that can be a popularity contest as well. We had a late model Hemi/Charger group attend our show. I heard them talking in their group who they were all going to vote for. He hadn't won many shows and it was his turn I guess. Well, he got Best Of Show over some top notch restored cars like a A12 car and a Formula S Barracuda. Ya, politics. That's why I don't like judged shows.
 
In this area generally if there is a "sponsor" for the show, he/she or a company rep does the judging. Yup, sometimes hurt feelings, but for me it ain't about a trophy.


"If you're under control, you ain't goin fast enough."
 
I hate judged car shows. I just go for the cars, people and food. I was informed at one of our local big shows of over 800 cars that I won best in Pro Street (even though not a big tire car???). Also, best is Street Machine classes. I had already left for the day, so I told my buddy that let me know to give the trophies or awards to some near by kids.
 
One of the shows I attend has participant judging. Using your example of 20 different classes, they would have two different judging sheets, with 10 classes on each. As a participant, if your car fell into a class on judging sheet A, you would given judging sheet B to use. This way, you could not vote for your own car, and you don't have to trudge through the whole 20 classes. Also, you don't get your event dash plaque until you turn your judging sheet in. This system forces the participants to get out and actually see all the cars in attendance, instead of just sitting in a lawn chair for the event. It also removes any perceived bias of selected judges.
Personally, I enjoy car shows without any trophies. I find the atmosphere a lot more relaxed, with the element of competition removed. This way, any show sponsorship $$$ can be spent on more or better door prizes, instead of dust collecting trophies. Sometimes, representatives from local sponsoring car dealerships can be invited to select their favourite Mopar, GM, Ford, etc.
 
I organize two annual shows locally and attend several others every year. My favorite show is at my church that was a former car dealership so the layout is perfect for a show. We host it on Sunday afternoon when no other shows are competing for everyones attendance. There is no judging, no registration fee, I hire a couple of food trucks and a Kona Ice truck. Everyone is free to come and go as they please and we usually have 125-150 cars and tons of people that just come to see the cars.
The other show I help with is judged by pre-appointed judges that "know all about quality car restorations", charges a fee, sponsors pay for spots so people need to park in specific places and it turns into politics and popularity. I usually leave early and/or do not put up the little sign with my car number out so they cannot judge my car. I'm not in it for another piece of plastic trophy, just good conversations and sharing experiences.
 
Last edited:
Car judging by selected judges at anything other than specific high profile type events needs to die a fiery death and have it's ashes pissed on.
 
I have to say that it seems the most people enjoy awards when its not taken too seriously and the organizers steer a portion of the awards to cars/people who generally don't get them, or have odd categories. The look on someone's face when they get a "Best Spray Can Paint Job Award", "Young Gun" award, or an envelope with $20 in it toward the payment of a tetanus shot for the "Rust Bucket" award is priceless. Everyone has fun and it encourages more participation.

I won an award for "Best Back Seat" once as the presenter recalled how he had his first sexual encounter in the back seat of a car like mine. Everyone had fun, and ultimately that's why most of us go to car shows.
 
I like to see shows have a "kids choice" award which helps get kids interested in cars by giving them a ballot to vote for their favorite. Sadly that type of choice award typically ends up going to a DeLorean or jacked up Texas Metal style pickup truck, but if it excites the kids so be it!
 
I like to see shows have a "kids choice" award which helps get kids interested in cars by giving them a ballot to vote for their favorite. Sadly that type of choice award typically ends up going to a DeLorean or jacked up Texas Metal style pickup truck, but if it excites the kids so be it!
Agreed 100%


There is a local show near me that happens every 2 weeks. The best cars RARELY trophy. The spread them out over the year as a lot of the cars are there every event

Im told Once trophied, you are put on a so called do not win list until next year.
I dont care, either way as I rarely stay long enough for the awards part anyway.

I go to see cars and talk to car people .

I've actually received some awards this year at various events and the ones kids made on shop class are my favorites bar none.
At the recent NHOA gathering. I got long distance ( full disclosure I think I had that locked up from the beginning ). But love the Least amount of rocks trophy

trophies1.jpg


trophies2.jpg
 
I go to shows to relax and hang out with friends and like minded people. Most are participant voting which is probably the least problematic unless large groups or clubs show up and skew the results. As an example I would cite a local show hosted by the Studebaker club. Because of the venue the show can draw as many as 400 cars of all makes, but it’s not unusual for the host club members to vote for all their pals. Recently 21 out of the top 25 trophies went to Studebaker club members. I have a problem with that because the host club should be either display only or be in a separate in class by themselves.

Actual judged shows are probably the least controversial. I have only been in one, and was able to interact with the judges as they looked over the car. The judges were qualified by their particular area of expertise. They had an upholsterer judging interiors, painters judging paint and bodywork and experienced builders, judging other aspects such as engine compartment, chassis, etc.

Another good show that I enjoy going to divides club members into teams. Each team is assigned a category such as best truck, best street rod, best muscle car, etc.. teams walk the show and focus on their specific category to basically choose a winner by committee. I think that’s a really fair way to do it.

At the Street Machine Nationals they also send out teams, usually in pairs. I’m not sure what their criteria is, but besides the normal best Ford, best Chevy, best Mopar categories there were some fun categories that allow judges a lot of discretion. Last year I won “ride we’d love to own” which I considered quite a compliment considering the number of cars in the show.

Regardless of what type of show it is, go to it without any expectations except to have a good time. If you do come home with hardware, that’s just icing on the cake…
 
Last edited:
Another tech school trophy, show was judged by the students. Surprised when the GTX won the antique class. Car long gone, trophy is being re-purposed as a door prize at the FBBO tent this week at Carlisle.

3E37E262-B26A-49A7-B060-A90C31C00DF9.jpeg
 
Another tech school trophy, show was judged by the students. Surprised when the GTX won the antique class. Car long gone, trophy is being re-purposed as a door prize at the FBBO tent this week at Carlisle.

View attachment 1692305

I gave a bunch of old trophies to the Cub Scouts for their Pinewood Derby…
 
I have to say that it seems the most people enjoy awards when its not taken too seriously and the organizers steer a portion of the awards to cars/people who generally don't get them, or have odd categories. The look on someone's face when they get a "Best Spray Can Paint Job Award", "Young Gun" award, or an envelope with $20 in it toward the payment of a tetanus shot for the "Rust Bucket" award is priceless. Everyone has fun and it encourages more participation.

I won an award for "Best Back Seat" once as the presenter recalled how he had his first sexual encounter in the back seat of a car like mine. Everyone had fun, and ultimately that's why most of us go to car shows.
I like that way of thinking too. Back in late 1999 I helped (did most of the donkey work) organise a Drag Meet here that we called the "Uncle Sam meets the Rising Sun" - basically a challenge between the Ricer's and the best of American Muscle ...and Mustangs as well. It was the first time anyone had dared do such a thing, and it went down well. Weather had a part to play as usual...but with some lively 'live-crosses' from me to a local Talk-Back radio station, the audience was decent enough for us to run a good profit.

Seeing as how I wasn't running my GTX that time - (under restoration at the time) I had time to spend on the meeting. I made some trophies, and the most memorable one was one for the "Slowest ET of the day". For that I had an old 440 piston which I fashioned into a Sun-dial....complete with time markings.

The highlight of the day for me was presenting that to one of the racers - who was also a well-known celebrity Comedian at the time - Ewan Gilmore. He was absolutely stunned, shocked and thrilled all at once - his Road-trip camper van/bus had managed a 24 second pass. It made his day and he got a great round of applause for it.
He later went into local politics and was on our City Council for a few years - alternative to say the least....and sadly passed away only a few year later.

I wish I had pictures of it all...maybe I have one archived somewhere. :)
 
I have also been on both sides of the fence with trophies. I have several large cardboard boxes full of trophies that just take up space - meant something at the time, but now not so much. Still proud of most but they have less meaning without the car. Most were judged by actual car guys - panel beaters, painters, fellow car restorers with plenty of experience. I still hold a record for Best Paint three consecutive shows running over a period of 8 years. Pleased about them.

I also attended a dedicated Mopar Muscle show back in 2002 where it was invitation only. I think someone wanted to stick it to me. Another guy who is a friend ended up scooping about 12 trophies in different categories, while mine didn't rate a mention. Sure Wayne's Hemi 'Cuda drag car was a well-sorted and beautiful car, and deserved the accolades, but some of the categories he won in were a bit sketchy. He later came up to me and said it was a bit embarrassing and he guilty about the shambles of a judging effort it was. My GTX was a better looking car in the OE sense....but it doesn't matter now.

Another car - a purple '70 Dodge Challenger won best engine. The hood was down all weekend, and all you could see was a blower sticking up through a hole in the hood. There was no engine in that car at all.....the blower was perched on top of a wooden beer crate. Tak about a BS show. The trophy awards were on the Saturday night and the organiser had arranged some stripers to attend.....my buddy Rodney and I left sharpish. Westie skanks don't do it for me.

Best part of that show was the ride home. I managed to get alongside another good friend - 69 Road Runner 383 and 4-speed. We were nearly home, sitting at an intersection both turning right into a three-lane arterial road.....he was on my right in the two-lane road. We looked at each other with 'that look'....wives beside each of us......light goes green and it's all on.
We both got halfway around the corner, and we were both going sideways parallel to each other - barely half a lane separating us, and we're doing something 30 mph smoking the tires......in unison. It was awesome. My wife loved it, and I could see Mark had a big cheesy grin also. I'll never forget that one.

Fun times. :lol:
 
One of the shows I attend has participant judging. Using your example of 20 different classes, they would have two different judging sheets, with 10 classes on each. As a participant, if your car fell into a class on judging sheet A, you would given judging sheet B to use. This way, you could not vote for your own car,

But it doesn't prevent voting for your buddy's car which isn't dependent on the presentation or quality of the car.
 
Never stay for the judging, bring my car if you want to look at it great if not that’s ok too. Walk around check out the other cars then off to do something else.
 
Is that what you have, a personal insult ? A reply as this speaks volumes about the author. You don't even know what I have. And you don't even know what I've done or owned for the past 55 years.


To throw out an opinion like yours on a car forum is to invite criticism to it.
I don't care who you are or what you've done or owned. If you don't like something, you have that right but to denigrate activities that many find to be worthwhile? That isn't reasonable. If there were no competitions for any awards, there would probably never be these high levels of quality. Ego and pride do lead to making yours better than theirs. Why is that a bad thing?
I don't care for stamp collecting or building model ships in a bottle but some people really like it enough for it to have a following.
It is common that people that have neither the skill nor the guts to compete will talk trash about those that do. THAT isn't right.
 
Auto Transport Service
Back
Top