While Reno calls itself the biggest little city, the Hot August Nights (HAN) event held there is anything but small. Now in its 25th year, HAN is widely recognized as the largest classic car and nostalgia festival in the United States, selling out some 6,000 participant vehicle passes, and attracting nearly a million visitors. Way more than just a car show, it celebrates a simpler time with a diverse mix of '72 or older vehicles, everything from rods to muscle cars to classics. But wait, there's more.
Nostalgia on Wheels.
Hearkening back to the early days of hot rodding, many of the conveyances that roll into town for HAN fall into an unlabeled, unorthodox category, possibly the product of an indiscriminate encounter behind a bicycle shed. Neither fish nor fowl, these "odd rods" display both creativity and craziness, but in a good way. What follows is a photo essay portraying the extremes that some car builders go to, whether to make a statement or simply get noticed. Made you look! Either way, it's all a lot of fun.
Given the enormous gathering of vehicles at each of the 10 major casino resorts in town, it's no surprise that so many car enthusiasts flock to Reno for this red-hot revival. Besides all the cool rides, rock n' roll rules, so attendees can cut a rug at the free concerts featuring top entertainers and music of the Fifties and Sixties.
The appeal is obvious, as visitors just want to feel the good ol' days, so they can escape the current craziness and return to some of the happiest times in our history. And through the magic of Hot August Nights they were able to recapture those wonderful days and times. Add to that, pleasure cruises through town, show-n-shines, a sock hop, and much more. For shopaholics, there's the Classic Car Auction, Big Boys Toy Store and Hot August Nights Swap Meet.
Plus, returning this year after a 10-year absence was the Official Hot August Nights Classic Car Drag Racing event, staged at John Ascuaga's Nugget. Sponsored by Full Throttle, a Reno engine tuner and car builder, the 1/8th-mile drags provided a secure place to relish the smell of burning rubber burnouts and high-octane gasoline, paired with classic eye candy and pedal-stompin' racing for an adrenaline rush.
While HAN offers something for everyone, Reno in general boasts a thriving cultural scene and a refurbished downtown area, along the scenic Truckee River and the recently completed Reno Aces baseball stadium. The tourist industry is fueled not merely by the casinos, but by the many year-round resorts in the nearby mountains. In fact, for this year's HAN, the kick-off parties and car gatherings started several days before up at Lake Tahoe. But for those of us with an appetite for something that dares to be different, these odd rods are the main event.