How to Host a Car Show

Hosting a car show should be a fun experience, but for some, it turns into a nightmare of stress. This article is developed to help guide folks who might be seasoned promoters or first time hosts.


  1. Image titled Host a Car Show Step 1
    Select the date. The date of your event might seem minor, but it could impact the number of show cars and spectators which attend.
    • Depending on where you are located, choose a month where the climate is mild to warm. Most show car owners will not bring their vehicles out in the dead of winter.
    • Do a search online and try to select a date where there are not too many events similar to your event.
  2. Image titled Host a Car Show Step 2
    Consider your budget. Determine in advance how much you can spend on the event. Your budget should include your investment, estimated vendor fees, sponsor fees, and raffle ticket sales. It will also guide many aspects of the event. Expenses you might incur include your event venue, permits, event insurance, trophies, advertising, flyers, entertainment (DJ, MC, etc.), and raffle prizes.
  3. Image titled Host a Car Show Step 3
    Select the venue. Selecting the ideal venue can be tedious at times. Your budget and anticipated number of participants will drive what type of location is required. Indoor locations will drive the cost higher with the need for additional staff, security, lighting, air conditioning, etc.
    • Indoor locations are often used for larger national events. Outdoor locations can vary from utilizing a racetrack, a park, or even a school parking lot.
    • Based on the number of anticipated participants for your auto event, call around locally to discuss pricing. In some cases, automotive shops will sponsor the venue for the event. The facilities should have appropriate parking, restrooms, and be accessible to food vendors.
  4. Image titled Host a Car Show Step 4
    Market and promote your show. The most important aspect of planning your car show or automotive event is marketing and promoting the event.
    • Create or have a designer create a flyer for your event. The flyer should contain the following information:
      • Event Name and Host
      • Event Date and Time
      • Event Venue
      • Event Type (i.e. Car Show, Racing, Classic Car Show, Imports, etc.)
      • Car Show judging classes, along with prizes, Entry Fees and Instructions on Registration
      • Contact Information (Name, Email, Phone, Website, etc.), List or Logo of sponsors and vendors
      • Any disclaimers
      • Once your flyer is designed, find a printer locally or online.
    • Start promoting the event online, and locally, by do the following:
      • Ask your location's automotive shops to display your flyers on their counters.
      • Create a Facebook event and share it with your friends.
      • Post your event on a website free of charge.
  5. Image titled Host a Car Show Step 5
    Set up your participant registration. Some events allow participants to pre-registration, while others only allow registration on the day of the show. Allowing attendees to pre-register provides the host with some working capital and a gauge of how many participants will display their vehicle. The incentive for the participant is a discounted registration fee.
    • If using pre-registration, set up a cutoff date to ensure you have enough time to send electronic conformation and your paperwork is in order.
    • On the day of the event, assign a person to be responsible for keeping a log and handling all pre-registrations. Either method will require a registration area set up at the entrance of the event. Each vehicle should be provided a window card, with their name, vehicle info, and vehicle class.
  6. Image titled Host a Car Show Step 6
    Set up entertainment. Although all the participants and spectators attending your event are coming for the cars, one should provide other entertainment.
    • A DJ is the most popular type of entertainment, spinning the latest music for the crowd’s enjoyment. Some events spend the extra cash to hire an MC. An MC will work to keep your crowd engaged and entertained for the day. Other options include hiring a local band, break dance or some other competition, sound system competitions, raffles, etc.
    • Don’t forget to ensure you have electrical outlets; otherwise, a generator is required.
  7. Image titled Host a Car Show Step 7
    Set up your judging and trophies. Judging of car shows is very important for you participants and should be done fairly with folks knowledgeable of the vehicles. Everyone has different opinions as to what they like, but judging should be taken seriously and be done fairly based on the quality of the build.
    • Plan out the categories for which you will judge one's car. These include performance, engine cleanliness, interior, paint job, body work, sound, etc.
    • Develop a point system on how to rank vehicles in each category. Usually, 2-3 judges visit a vehicle, and score them based on the criteria established. Tally up the results and 30-45 minutes before the end of the event is the time to announce the winners.
    • Most events honor participants with the most points with a trophy. Trophies can range from $10-$100 depending on the size. Be sure to order your trophies 3 weeks in advance to ensure they come on time. In cases where trophies are delivered unassembled, allow yourself enough time to assemble them prior to the event.

Things You'll Need

  • Pre-Registration List
  • Blank Registration Forms
  • Copies of insurance and permits
  • Blank registration forms
  • Window cards
  • Trophies
  • Raffle prizes
  • Raffle tickets
  • Scissors, tape, and rope
  • Tent(s)
  • Pens and Sharpies
  • Tables and Chairs
  • Copies of the event schedule
  • Copies of the venue layout
  • Cooler with food and cold drinks
  • Parking cones
  • Judging forms
  • Event flyer and Business Cards
  • Promotional Materials
  • Banners
  • Electrical extension cords

Sources and Citations

  • - "Original source, shared with permission"

Article Info

Categories: Cars