For the weather and prevailing conditions we had to deal with, I am not sure how the show could
have gone any better.
I knew it was going to be a tough hill to climb when the weather report said 100% chance of rain
on Friday. Add to that, reports of people digging out 2 foot snow drifts just to get their cars out of their
garage north of Minneapolis and jack knifed big rigs all along I-35 and I-80. For the guys on bias
plys, this turned into a treacherous road trip and for those that emailed me privately apologizing
about turning around…..no apology needed. While our show is a good time, it is not worth
risking your ride or your well being. There were MANY people that came up to me at the show and
apologized for not bringing their ride to the show, and we totally get it. Ultimately we were just happy people showed up in the wind and rain which had a wind chill of 29 degrees!
We started the show with 535 pre registrations. We ended up with 625 registrations given out.
Of those 535 pre registered rides about 125 did not show up. There were a total of just under 600 cars on site.
We had about 175-200 cars show up without the pre registration. So when you add up the pre reg
the pre reg that did not show up and those that drove up, we would have had over 700 traditional
rod and custom cars on site. The classic and chrome section was only about 25-35 cars so that was
nothing compared to the almost 300 we had last year. It seems the classic and chrome guys refuse to
drive their cars even if there is a hint of rain. That’s ok, that is not what our show is about anyway.
So while many were complaining about the lower car count from 2012 to 2013, we actually had
about 600 traditional rods and customs both years. People also seemed to think we had a lower
spectator count as well. There is no doubt we had a fraction of the people show up on Friday,
but Saturday we actually had the same amount of spectators as 2012. The difference is the size
of the grounds. Dubuque County Fairgrounds are bigger than where we have been in the past, and
therefore it will take more people to fill the place up. I am confident we will get there.
Overall it was a fun time, and while it was chaotic and a bit unorganized, everyone I talked to
loved the new location and the vibe of Dubuque. The fairgrounds staff went way above and beyond the call
of duty rearranging stages on a whim of the VTF staff. Digging out about 30 cars out of the mud,
accomodating campers, and while the lines were long – the food never ran out. These are all issues
that we deal with at the different shows we put on and it’s nice to know the crew at the fairgrounds
care enough about the show to make whatever changes are needed.
Many are still not clear about the gate proceeds and the art auction. The gate proceeds go to help pay for the show, and $$$ that is leftover
is given to our adopted families. This year we were able to give the Essl family $5000. We hope this is the first of many families we can
help. The art auction proceeds go to Hannah Wells Medical Trust. This is a trust set up to help us pay for all the expenses that we incur over the
year with our daughter. This year the auction raised just over $20K!!!! With the help of all these artists and bidders this was by far the most successful
art auction ever. We can’t thank you enough – our first expenses are coming up June 7. We have to have both of our daughters looked at in Boston at
Harvard Medical. We are not sure when we have to have more open heart surgery for Hannah, but we will be able to get more info by doing these tests.
Of course the core of Vintage Torque Fest relies on the volunteers. They are the ones that make the
show happen. The lead volunteer coordinator (Mitch Huffington) is not just in charge of the volunteers, he is also
always coming up with ideas on how to make the show better. He and the Tin Militia (Thor, Andy, Jenny, & Jessica) are invaluable
and the show is infinitely better with them on board. There were others as well, Brandon from The Bombers CC (and hosts of the
Bombs Away Bash – this year with Reverand Horton Heat!), Rocky Hodges, Steve from The Kropdusters, Rockford Mick,
family and friends that helped at the gates,Rob and Nonda, Iowa Doug, Scott from Romin’Chariots CC, &
Pat from 3 on the Tree – all these people put in at least 10 hour shifts each day. And we also received considerable help from
the following car clubs: Rat Bastards, Wreckless Chicago, Rod Tossers, Twisted Pistons, The Instigators, Romin Chariots.
And let us tell you – the weather on Friday was TERRIBLE. For those guys to sit on their posts in the
wind & the rain means so much to the success of the show.
We also had help with vendors who make the show unique, Tin Butchers CC running the swap, and Sara & Chez running the pinup contest.
There were also many who helped out with getting the word out about the show. Harley Davidson corporate were very involved
in the national advertising budget and we can’t thank them enough. Regional and local advertising help was provided by
Dubuque Chamber of Commerce and Dubuque Convention & Visitors Bureau – specifically Keith Rahe and Tyler Daugherty.
With this support of family, friends, volunteers, car clubs, spectators, and most importantly- hot rod owners, Vintage Torque Fest will continue to be
the only traditional rod and custom show in Iowa that matters. Others will try – but they will not have the massive support from you – the fans and
participants of Vintage Torque Fest.
2014 Plans will be announced soon.
Thanks – John & Kim Wells