What's Happened to the World of Wheels?
By Bill Schmidt
I also attended the 2001 World of Wheels in DC on Saturday afternoon. It was, in a word, flat.
Like you, I also noticed a drop in car count from previous years and a small crowd. Very few drag cars, no sprint cars or stock cars or historical racecars. I did enjoy the restored muscle cars, but there were not enough of them. What really bothered me were the "stock" appearing late model cars on display by dealerships. I'm also confused why someone would display (or be allowed to display) an unmodified, two year old import on a jack stand. Nothing Rod or Custom about that.
I have been going to WoW since I was 10 years old in 1968 at the old DC Armory. Back then there were two floors of cars and people two and three deep through the entire show area trying to get a look them. There was the MPC Model Car contest (bring a model car, get in free), the Battle of the Bands, and some really cool ISCA touring custom cars like the Munster's Mobile, The Red Baron, The Batmobile, the Zingers, and other George Barris & Big Daddy Roth-type custom cars and oddballs. I can still remember the smell the fresh popcorn, beer, and Marlboro cigarettes (you could smoke inside back then) wafting though the air.
And what about the Speed Shops? In the old days, almost every major shop in the MD/DC/VA area had a booth. Big Ed's, Calhoun Speed, Speed Unlimited, Cobe Automotive, Maryland High Performance (most of these are no longer in business) as well as the region's racetracks (drag, circle dirt & paved, road course) having display booths and handing out schedules for the upcoming season.
In their place, you now have a skateboard park and a mobile candy store.
Is this a case of a highly impressionable, wide eyed 10 or 11 year old's memory being better than the actual event, or a jaded middle aged man who's just getting harder to impress?
All I know is, the electricity was not there. I'm not sure I'll be going next year.