As much as it pains me to say it, genuine interest in cars and proper custom builds have -in large part- diminished.
Maybe it's because of economic hardships (car customization is expensive), perhaps even changes in lifestyle preferences (new hobbies), change in build preferences (some build for show, some for go), or possibly massive shifts in trends on what the definition of a “custom” car is (decals, anyone?). But what we cannot deny is that there are people who actively participate in car shows. Some are referred to as car enthusiasts. Some are car nuts or geeks. Some are just plain car crazy.
While we like the idea of 'car shows' sprouting all over the country, the true essence of car shows seems to have been blurred out... maybe even lost altogether.
We think it's because of a rather alarming trend: everyone drives away from a car show as a winner. Sometimes you walk past the trophy table and see things like 'Best Engine Roar', 'Best Detailed Car', 'Loudest Muffler' or 'Wildest Wheels'. What's worse is that these “awards occupy just as much space on the table as real, coveted awards like 'Best Tuner Car', 'Best Vintage Car', or 'Best of Show'. The situation has gotten so bad that sometimes people are actually promised a prize just to join a show; everyone comes home with something to put up on the wall.
The message is clear: join our car show, win a prize. It's a maneuver to ensure that entrants don't get their feelings or pride hurt, and they do this by making up some pretty silly awards.
The message is awful for those who truly wanted to build something special and compete: whatever happens, every entry -even the mediocre ones- will get awarded if they enter a show. It's no different from the message sent by the 'self-help' book “I'm OK, You're OK” which arguably helped lead a culture of entitlement, a rationale of just being fine with OK, and a culture of extreme sensitivity.
If an entry didn't win, maybe the build wasn't good enough. Just because a lot of people liked your car on Facebook doesn't mean it's a good build. People will always have different opinions, and so too will car show judges.
Sometimes when we go into a competition with the mindset of just winning, we forget the small details. In a show, they count for a lot. That's the true essence of competition whether you're playing a sport, competing for a promotion, or entering a car show. That passion for something should be why you're really there in the first place.
Nowadays the thirst for fame and attention comes with a culture of extreme sensitivity. Again, it's brought about by the same sense of entitlement because mediocrity was rewarded. This kills the essence of the car show, the effects of which can be seen in what many showgoers post in their social media accounts: photos of the model, and it just so happens that there's a car in the background.
Real enthusiasts who poured their heart, soul, and bank accounts into their cars will feel shortchanged because the wrong cars end up getting recognized alongside theirs. The good builds will eventually end up attending car meets instead, where the environment is raw enthusiasm, camaraderie, and usually free from politics or other types of awards night drama.
To the organizers: be true to your advertising. If you want to brand your event as a car show with true competition, run it like a real one. As people abhor fake news today, I'm pretty sure they won't like to go to a fake car show as well.
To the participants: compete with a car really worth competing. Real competition against really impressive builds isn't a bad thing, and in contests, not everyone can be a winner. More importantly, we learn a lot more from losing than winning, lessons that we can take and come back better the next time around. That's just how it is with car shows: they often aren't fair, and we have to live with it.
Mediocrity, like mere participation, should never be rewarded. An award should have value, and that value only comes from hard work, maximum effort, and passion.
Ask yourself this: do you display your participation medal next to your hard-earned university diploma?
We didn't think so.