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Vintage Car Show “Rallies” Autism Awareness in Joplin

The Vintage Car Rally Association is hosting a car show this weekend in Joplin.
The Vintage Car Rally Association is hosting a car show this weekend in Joplin. Photo taken from the VCRA website

If you’re touring the streets of Joplin this weekend, you might run into a parade of vintage cars strolling around town. The Vintage Car Rally Association is hosting its “All Stars for Autism” vintage car show May 1-5 at the city’s Holiday Inn. KSMU’s Rebekah Clark reports.

 

If you’ve never heard of old car rallying, its members treat it as a sport. They travel coast to coast to participate in shows in a variety of cities. Rex Gardner is this weekend’s event “rally master,” or director of the rally.  

“It’s actually not a show, it’s actually a very intense competition. Each morning, we leave the hotel area at about eight o’clock, and we actually are in a road rally out on public highways throughout the day, going to different venues, pit stops and lunch venues, and then come back in. But all the while there, they have to follow an explicit set of instructions that give direction and speed.”

He says the idea is that everyone leaves at the exact same time and drives the exact same speed on the exact same mapped-out course. Along the way, members run into hidden checkpoints. Members are timed to the nearest hundredth of a second at these checkpoints to see how close they can stay within the requirements.“So it’s like golf, when you get in each day, the guy with the lowest number of penalty points wins.”

Their prize for winning?

“In this particular event, they’ll be over $7,000 in prize money up for grabs between these 30-some-odd cars. It’s an encouragement for people to come, and it’s a reward to do well, and we still come out with, because of sponsorships and charitable giving, we still come out making a net profit that we donate everything to our charity.”

The association donates all proceeds that come in at each event to charities. Those charities are usually small nonprofits all across the country that supports research, education and program institution for children with autism. Since the association’s founding in 2006, they’ve raised over $400,000 dollars in donations for places like Joplin’s Ozark Center for Autism.

After members cruise to local towns around Joplin, they’ll make their way back to their hotel to cool down their cars and allow members of the community to come and see the vintage collection.

“We encourage the older, the better. In this particular rally, they’ll be cars as old as a 1916 Hudson Indy car, up to mid-30s and 40s Ford Mercury’s. So you’ll see a potpourri of everything from the teens to through 20s and 30s in our events. Quite an array of cars, some you’ll probably never have a chance to see otherwise.”

There will be over 30 cars participating in Joplin. These are the cars that members compete in and drive during the day from pit stop to pit stop. Members love for people to come and see them working under the hood, and usually allow people to hop in and get a feel for what it would be like to drive back in time, Gardner says.

He owns a few vintage cars himself. His favorite is his ’34 Ford, which he says, “goes and goes.”

For KSMU News, I’m Rebekah Clark.

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To find details on the event and more information about the Vintage Car Rally Association, go to KSMU.org.