16th annual Pistons & Paint Car Show honors antique automobiles

16th annual Pistons & Paint Car Show honors antique automobiles

16th annual Pistons & Paint Car Show honors antique automobiles
November 13
15:27 2017

The family opened the rear-hinged doors of the grey convertible 1962 Lincoln Continental — easily fit for a music video — and piled into it. The car took off into a slow roll around the North Texas Fairgrounds, and the passengers began to perform mock pageant waves to the young kids who chased them. The Lincoln circled around the Bud Light stage and welcomed an award in the form of a small gold engine into its passenger seat.

The 16th annual Pistons & Paint Car Show took place Saturday and brought hundreds of classic cars to the streets of Denton. The show featured over 450 classic cars from 1964 and beyond as well as music from bands such as Junior Brown, Slobberbone and Dylan Bishop. Aside from cars, the fairgrounds were filled with food, beer, souvenirs and, most importantly, families.

“It actually started because back then there weren’t really a lot of local car shows that we wanted to go to,” event organizer Scott “Bubba” Turner said. “There are a lot more that have sprung up since then.”

The show started in Dallas and was there for four years until they lost their venue. Turner lived in Denton, and he felt it was the perfect location.

“I was like, ‘Hey man, there’s a fairground right by my house — we should go talk to them,'” Turner said. “We’ve had a great relationship with Nancy and Glenn at North Texas Fairgrounds ever since. It’s just been great.”

Turner books all the bands, hires the police, reserves the venue and “pretty much hires everybody to hire.” He has worked with the annual car show since day one. The first show featured around 25 cars and has grown massively in the last 15 years.

Turner took a majority role about five or six years ago when the head coordinator stepped down. Since Turner lives two miles from the fairground and has experience with booking shows, his role as event coordinator made sense.

Aside from the good music, food and beer, the event featured souvenirs and activities for all ages. Rahr & Sons Brewing Company created custom designed pint glasses which sported the Pistons & Paint logo and onsite silkscreeners produced unique event shirts. Access Bank sponsored a coloring book designed by local artists and tattoo artists, whose proceeds benefited the Kiwanis Club Children’s Medical Clinic. A local art teacher also donated used crayons so that kids would be able to color during the event.

Coordinators put so much into the event because the registries — the people who bring their cars to be shown at the event — put so much into their automobiles. Some of the registries have spent over a decade working on what many refer to as their “babies.”

Headliner Junior Brown performs his song “Highway Patrol” during the 16th annual Pistons & Paint car show. The awards ceremony, where registered vehicles would discover if they won or not, followed the performance. Dana McCurdy

“To get your car done, you have to become completely obsessed,” said Mark Ford, a fabricator and barber from Austin. “The last two months, I was trying to get this thing on the road. I practically just lived at my shop. I brought a little gas grill down there and just ate lunch and dinner down there. I just kept going, and you just have to become obsessed. It’s just fun, and it becomes an obsession.”

Ford owns a 1931 Ford Model A Coupe featuring numerous modifications. His car is Turner’s favorite car in the show and is featured this year on the poster for Pistons & Paint. Ford was not able to make it to several of the previous shows, but he felt he needed to find a way to attend this year since his “baby” was featured.

“It could cost you a marriage,” Ford said. “It costs a lot of money, you know? It’s like raising a child. I don’t have kids, so this and my dog are my kids.”

Obsession with the hot rod seems to be a trend among the registries. Joe Strittmatter spent around 10 years working on his 1962 Lincoln Continental, which won Turner’s award.

“It’s very gratifying to see it come all the way through,” Strittmatter said. “You see it and start it when it’s just a pile of rust, and you think some days it’s never going to get done. I literally went a few years where I didn’t even want to look at it. I would work on it for awhile and [be] like, ‘I’m sick of looking at that car,’ and then I would take it back up. Starting fall of ’16, man, I just started slogging at it. I pushed through and got it done.”

Sometimes the cars are not the “kids,” but rather a way to connect with actual children.

“The biggest deal about working on the car is doing it with the kids,” Strittmatter said. “My wife helps me too, and the kids are in the shop helping me. It’s just something we do together where you’re not just staring at a screen, or [you’re] not just sitting there mindlessly on the couch. I always have to be active and do stuff, and seeing the project move forward is the biggest deal.”

Many families attended the event to show support for their loved ones who entered while others attended just to enjoy the show for themselves.

“It’s definitely a family atmosphere,” said Alison McClendon, who works in tech support for defense contractor company Raytheon. “A lot of people are here with their families, dogs and kids. It’s nice. Everybody’s really friendly, too.”

McClendon enjoyed the day with her husband and young daughter. It was their first time attending the event. The car owners were very friendly, and some even allowed McClendon’s daughter to pretend to drive the antique cars.

“Food was good, cars were better — nah, the food might have been better,” McClendon laughed. “I like food. Love it, love it. We will definitely be back next year.”

Even with inevitable car troubles the registries face, the show must go on.

“Everything is good until the actual show weekend, and then I freak out,” Turner said. “I’m just worried that things are going to go wrong, you know? I don’t sleep the night before because I’m worried about what have I missed. What have I forgotten? What could possibly go wrong? I used to not have grey hair until I started doing this, and now I hardly have hair, and what I do have [is] white.”

Ironically, Turner’s car broke down on the way to the Pistons & Paint Car Show.

“Having an old car is definitely a commitment,” Turner said. “Like today, when it didn’t get me to my own car show.”

However, Turner persevered, and arrived to organize the show at 5:30 a.m., running on little to no sleep.

“I wonder every year why I do this to myself,” Turner said. “But then I come out here, and everybody high fives me, hugs me and tells me it’s their favorite day of the year, so I torture myself for them.”

Featured Image: Spectators of the Pistons & Paint Car Show on Nov. 11 add their signatures among the countless others on the bus. The owner of the bus allows people to make their mark on his vehicles each time he goes to an event. Dana McCurdy

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Slade Meadows

Slade Meadows

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