As the summer sun shines down, casting long, car-shaped shadows on the tarmac, it’s time to gear up for an exciting season of automotive festivities. If you’re a motorhead, a speed junkie, or simply someone who appreciates the art of four wheels and an engine, there’s no better way to spend your time than at some of the top U.S. automotive events. From classic car shows to high-octane races, these events offer something for everyone. So, buckle up and join us as we take you on a coast-to-coast tour of the 30 must-attend automotive events in the United States.
1. Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, California
The Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, a high-profile event that takes place on the third Sunday of August each year, is the epitome of elegance and sophistication in the automotive world. Held on the 18th fairway of the world-renowned Pebble Beach Golf Links, this event is a magnet for car enthusiasts and collectors from around the globe.
Here, you’ll find a stunning selection of meticulously restored and maintained vintage automobiles, each competing for the coveted ‘Best of Show’ award. But the Concours is more than just a competition. It’s a celebration of automotive history, design, and craftsmanship that offers visitors a chance to get up close and personal with some of the world’s most iconic and rare vehicles. From the roar of a 1930s Duesenberg to the sleek lines of a 1960s Ferrari, the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance is a feast for the senses.
2. Woodward Dream Cruise, Michigan
Every third Saturday of August, the city of Detroit, Michigan, known as the ‘Motor City,’ hosts the world’s largest one-day automotive event – the Woodward Dream Cruise. This event is a nostalgic journey back to the times when the automobile was not just a mode of transport but a symbol of freedom and expression.
The Woodward Dream Cruise attracts more than 1.5 million visitors and 40,000 classic cars each year. The 16-mile stretch of Woodward Avenue is transformed into a classic car paradise, with hot rods, muscle cars, and custom rides from the 50s, 60s, and 70s taking center stage. The palpable excitement, the revving engines, and the camaraderie among automobile aficionados make this event a must-visit.
3. SEMA Show, Nevada
If you’re interested in what’s new and next in the automotive world, the SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) Show in Las Vegas, Nevada, is the place to be. This trade-only event showcases the latest in vehicle customization, performance products, and automotive technology.
At the SEMA Show, you’ll see some of the industry’s most innovative and imaginative custom builds, with manufacturers and aftermarket suppliers competing to catch the attention of attendees and media alike. Alongside the showcase of modified and custom vehicles, you’ll also find educational seminars, product demonstrations, and networking events, providing a comprehensive overview of the trends shaping the automotive industry.
4. Daytona 500, Florida
Dubbed ‘The Great American Race,’ the Daytona 500 is the most prestigious event in the NASCAR calendar. Held annually at the Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida, this 500-mile-long race is a thrill ride from start to finish.
The Daytona 500 is not just a race – it’s a week-long spectacle that draws racing fans from across the nation. From the heart-stopping duels and the roar of the crowd to the exhilarating feeling of speed, this event is a bucket-list item for any motorsports enthusiast. Whether you’re a seasoned NASCAR fan or new to the sport, the high-octane energy and excitement of the Daytona 500 is sure to leave a lasting impression.
5. Monterey Car Week, California
Monterey Car Week, held annually in August, is a week-long automotive celebration in the picturesque setting of Monterey, California. With a jam-packed schedule of auctions, races, rallies, and car shows, this event is a must-attend for any car enthusiast.
The week’s events culminate in the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, but there’s much more to see and do. The Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion is a chance to witness historic race cars in action at the Laguna Seca Raceway, while The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering, presents an exceptional collection of sports and racing vehicles. From the beauty of classic cars to the thrill of live auctions, Monterey Car Week delivers an unparalleled automotive experience.
6. Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, Colorado
Known as ‘The Race to the Clouds,’ the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is a challenging and exhilarating motorsport event. Competitors race to the summit of Pikes Peak, a mountain in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, navigating 156 turns along a 12.42-mile course that climbs 4,720 feet from the start line to the finish at the 14,115-foot summit.
The race attracts a diverse range of vehicles, from vintage cars to purpose-built race cars and even motorcycles. The stunning mountainous backdrop combined with the thrill of high-speed racing makes the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb a unique spectacle that draws motorsports fans from around the world.
Remember, these are just a few of the many amazing automotive events that the U.S. has to offer. Stay tuned as we continue our journey, exploring more incredible events that will satisfy your need for speed and passion for cars. From car shows to races, auctions, and more – there’s something for every automotive enthusiast in the United States.
7. The Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, Florida
In the world of automotive elegance, The Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance stands as a hallmark event. Every March, the Florida island plays host to a spectacular gathering of rare and vintage vehicles from all over the world. Set against the backdrop of the Ritz-Carlton, the event showcases a stunning array of classic and exotic cars, all vying for the prestigious “Best in Show” award.
But it’s not all about competition. This is a place where automotive enthusiasts and collectors gather to share their passion, exchange stories, and marvel at the evolution of the automobile. From the iconic lines of a 1950s Corvette to the powerful roar of a 1960s Mustang, The Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance is a car lover’s paradise.
8. Bonneville Speed Week, Utah
If you’re captivated by the pursuit of speed, there’s no place like the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. Each August, the flats transform into the staging ground for Speed Week, a thrilling event organized by the Southern California Timing Association (SCTA).
Speed Week attracts a diverse range of participants, from professional racing teams to amateur enthusiasts, all with one goal – to push their machines to the limit and perhaps even set a new land speed record. From motorcycles to hot rods, and even diesel trucks, the salt flats become a blur of speed and excitement, providing an unforgettable experience for both participants and spectators.
9. Hershey Swap Meet, Pennsylvania
For lovers of classic cars, the Hershey Swap Meet (officially known as the Antique Automobile Club of America Eastern Division Fall Meet) is a veritable treasure trove. This event, held every October in Hershey, Pennsylvania, is considered one of the largest antique automobile shows and flea markets in the world.
Beyond the rows upon rows of vintage vehicles on display, you’ll find a vast array of parts, accessories, literature, and memorabilia. Whether you’re on the hunt for that elusive part to complete your restoration project or simply want to immerse yourself in automotive history, the Hershey Swap Meet offers an experience like no other.
10. Radwood, Various Locations
Nostalgia for the 80s and 90s is alive and well, and nowhere is it more apparent than at Radwood. This unique car show celebrates the culture, music, and, of course, the cars of these two iconic decades. Originating in California, Radwood has now spread to multiple locations across the U.S., bringing its unique brand of retro cool to car enthusiasts nationwide.
At Radwood, you’ll see everything from DeLoreans and Testarossas to Jeep Grand Wagoneers and Acura NSXs, all displayed against a backdrop of period-correct music and attire. If you’re a fan of pop culture and automobiles from this era, Radwood is an event you won’t want to miss.
Stay with us as we continue our tour of top U.S. automotive events. These are just a few of the experiences that await car enthusiasts across the nation, each offering a unique way to celebrate our love of all things automotive. Whether it’s the elegance of a Concours d’Elegance, the high-speed thrills of a hill climb, or a nostalgic trip back to the 80s and 90s, there’s an event for everyone. So, buckle up and get ready to hit the road!
11. Detroit Auto Show (North American International Auto Show), Michigan
Unveiling the future of automotive design and innovation, the Detroit Auto Show, officially known as the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), is a must-visit event for car enthusiasts. This annual auto show held in the Motor City serves as a global stage for companies to showcase their latest offerings and future concepts.
From luxury sedans and sporty coupes to electric vehicles and self-driving cars, the NAIAS offers a glimpse into the future of transportation. Coupled with a host of interactive displays, ride-and-drive experiences, and educational seminars, this event provides a comprehensive look at the automotive industry’s current trends and future direction.
12. Hot August Nights, Nevada
Each August, the streets of Reno, Nevada, come alive with the rumble of engines and classic rock ‘n’ roll during the Hot August Nights event. Celebrating the 1950s and 60s, the time when car culture really took off in America, this event features a week-long series of show-n-shines, drag races, burnouts, and cruises.
Hot August Nights is a classic car enthusiast’s dream, where polished chrome, vibrant paint jobs, and the roar of powerful engines take center stage. Whether you’re showing off your own classic ride, looking for inspiration for a project, or just there to soak up the nostalgia, this event is a fun-filled blast from the past.
13. Mecum Auctions, Various Locations
If you’re in the market for a collector car or just enjoy the thrill of live auctions, Mecum Auctions is the place to be. As the world’s largest collector car auction company, Mecum hosts several auctions across the United States each year, presenting an array of vehicles that span all eras of automotive history.
From classic muscle cars and vintage trucks to exotic sports cars and rare prototypes, the variety and quality of vehicles on offer at Mecum Auctions is truly impressive. Even if you’re not ready to bid, attending one of these auctions is an exciting experience filled with anticipation and adrenaline.
14. Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, South Dakota
While it’s technically a motorcycle event, the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is an important part of the broader U.S. automotive scene. Each August, hundreds of thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts descend upon the small town of Sturgis, South Dakota, transforming it into a mecca for two-wheeled vehicles.
The Sturgis Rally offers a host of attractions, from motorcycle shows and races to concerts and trade shows. But perhaps the most compelling aspect is the sense of camaraderie and shared passion among attendees. Whether you’re a hardcore biker or just a fan of motorcycles, the Sturgis Rally offers an unforgettable experience.
15. Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction, Arizona
Another must-visit event for car collectors and enthusiasts is the Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction held annually in Scottsdale, Arizona. Known as “The World’s Greatest Collector Car Auctions,” Barrett-Jackson events are renowned for their incredible array of vehicles and the high-energy auction atmosphere.
At Barrett-Jackson, you can see everything from American muscle and classic European cars to exotic supercars and one-of-a-kind custom builds. With the cars often selling for six or even seven-figure sums, the bidding can get intense, adding an extra layer of excitement to the event.
As we reach the halfway mark in our list of top U.S. automotive events, it’s clear that America’s love for cars is as diverse as it is passionate. From the elegance of classic cars to the raw power of muscle cars, the cutting-edge design of modern vehicles, and the enduring appeal of motorcycles, these events celebrate every aspect of automotive culture. Whether you’re a car collector, a motorhead, or just someone who loves the look and feel of a beautiful machine, there’s an event out there that will ignite your passion and fuel your love for all things automotive. So, stay with us as we continue our journey, exploring the best automotive events the U.S. has to offer.
16. Baja 1000, California
For those who love the thrill of off-road racing, there’s no event quite like the Baja 1000. This grueling race takes place in the deserts of California’s Baja Peninsula, challenging drivers with its treacherous terrain and harsh conditions.
The Baja 1000 draws a diverse range of vehicles, from motorcycles and quad bikes to heavily modified trucks and buggies. Whether you’re competing or spectating, the combination of high-speed action, challenging terrain, and sheer endurance required makes the Baja 1000 a bucket-list event for any off-road racing enthusiast.
17. Goodguys Car Shows, Various Locations
If you’re a fan of hot rods, customs, and classic American cars, the Goodguys Rod & Custom Association’s car shows are a must-visit. These events, held at various locations across the United States, are a celebration of American car culture, featuring thousands of the finest hot rods, customs, muscle cars, and classics.
At a Goodguys show, you can expect to see everything from gleaming 1950s Chevys and Fords to powerful 1960s and ’70s muscle cars, as well as a selection of custom creations that showcase the creativity and craftsmanship of their builders. With a relaxed, family-friendly atmosphere and a shared love of cars, these events are a great way to indulge your passion for American automotive history.
18. Moab Jeep Safari, Utah
Every Easter, the town of Moab in Utah becomes the ultimate playground for Jeep owners and off-road enthusiasts. The Moab Jeep Safari is a week-long event that includes trail rides, technical clinics, and a trade show featuring the latest in off-road gear and equipment.
The event attracts Jeep owners from across the country, all eager to take on the challenging red rock trails and stunning landscapes of Moab. Whether you’re an experienced off-roader or just starting out, the Moab Jeep Safari offers a unique and exciting opportunity to test your skills and your vehicle against some of the most beautiful and challenging terrains in the U.S.
19. Formula 1 United States Grand Prix, Texas
For fans of international motorsport, the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix is a must-see event. Held at the Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas, this race is a chance to see some of the world’s best drivers and most advanced racing cars in action.
The United States Grand Prix is more than just a race, though. It’s a full weekend of excitement, with practice and qualifying sessions, support races, and plenty of off-track entertainment. Whether you’re a long-time F1 fan or new to the sport, the speed, skill, and strategy involved in Formula 1 racing make for a thrilling spectacle.
20. Overland Expo, Various Locations
For those who love the freedom and adventure of vehicle-based travel, the Overland Expo is the event to attend. Held at various locations across the U.S., these events offer education, inspiration, and a community of like-minded adventurers.
At an Overland Expo, you’ll find a wide range of vehicles, from modified 4x4s and adventure motorcycles to expedition vehicles and even bicycles. There are also numerous workshops and classes covering everything from vehicle preparation and maintenance to navigation, first aid, and survival skills. Whether you’re an experienced overlander or just starting out, the Overland Expo offers a wealth of information and inspiration.
As we continue our journey through the best automotive events in the U.S., it’s clear that the love of cars and motorized vehicles spans a wide range of interests. Whether it’s the classic elegance of a Concours d’Elegance, the raw power, and speed of a race event, the excitement of a live auction, or the adventurous spirit of an overland expo, there truly is something for everyone. So, stay with us as we continue to explore these events that highlight the diversity and passion of the automotive world.
21. Import Alliance Meet, Various Locations
If you’re a fan of import cars, the Import Alliance Meet is a must-attend event. Held at various locations across the U.S., these meets attract thousands of import car enthusiasts, who come to show off their rides, swap parts, and share their passion for imported vehicles.
At an Import Alliance Meet, you’ll see a wide range of cars, from classic Japanese and European imports to the latest models. Whether you’re into modded Subarus, low-slung BMWs, or classic Datsun Z-cars, these meets offer a friendly, inclusive environment to connect with like-minded enthusiasts.
22. Indy 500, Indiana
Known as ‘The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,’ the Indy 500 is one of the most prestigious events in motorsports. Held annually at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Speedway, Indiana, this 500-mile race is a test of speed, skill, and endurance.
The Indy 500 is a full-day event, with a host of pre-race activities, including a parade, concerts, and an aerial flyover. Once the race starts, the excitement doesn’t let up, with high-speed passes, nail-biting pit stops, and the thrill of watching the best drivers in the world push their cars to the limit.
23. NHRA U.S. Nationals, Indiana
If you’re into drag racing, the NHRA U.S. Nationals is the event to see. Held annually at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis, this event is the most prestigious and richest drag racing event in the world.
The U.S. Nationals features a variety of classes, from Top Fuel and Funny Cars to Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycles, offering a range of high-speed action. With deafening engine roars, blistering speeds, and intense head-to-head competition, the NHRA U.S. Nationals is a must-see for any drag racing fan.
24. Carlisle Events, Pennsylvania
Carlisle Events hosts a series of automotive-themed events throughout the year, attracting enthusiasts of all types. Whether you’re into classic American cars, imports, trucks, or performance vehicles, there’s a Carlisle event for you.
Each event includes a car show, swap meet, and car corral, providing a great opportunity to buy, sell, or trade vehicles and parts. With a relaxed, family-friendly atmosphere, these events are a great way to connect with fellow enthusiasts and indulge your passion for cars.
25. Back to the 50s Weekend, Minnesota
Take a trip down memory lane at the Back to the 50s Weekend, hosted by the Minnesota Street Rod Association. This event, held annually at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds, showcases over 12,000 street rods and custom cars, all dating from 1964 and earlier.
The Back to the 50s Weekend is a celebration of classic American car culture, with live music, swap meets, and a host of family-friendly activities. Whether you’re a classic car owner or just a fan, this event offers a fun, nostalgic experience for all ages.
We’re down to our final five automotive events, but the journey is far from over. Whether you’re into classic cars, racing, off-roading, or just love the thrill of seeing beautiful machines in action, these events have something for every car enthusiast. So, join us as we conclude our journey through the top 30 automotive events in the U.S.
26. Quail Motorsports Gathering, California
Held annually during Monterey Car Week, the Quail Motorsports Gathering is an event that combines gourmet cuisine and rare automobiles in a garden-party setting. This event showcases both pre-and post-war sports and racing cars, as well as the latest and greatest supercars.
The Quail is an event known for its elegance, exclusivity, and the sheer quality of its car displays. Whether you’re a collector, an enthusiast, or simply someone who appreciates fine automobiles, the Quail Motorsports Gathering offers an unparalleled luxury automotive experience.
27. Lone Star Le Mans, Texas
The Lone Star Le Mans brings the spirit of the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans race to the United States. Held at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, this event features both the FIA World Endurance Championship and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Fans get to see some of the best sports car racing teams in the world compete in endurance races, bringing a bit of the French Le Mans flair to American soil.
28. Rennsport Reunion, California
Every three years, Porsche fans from around the world gather at Laguna Seca Raceway in California for the Rennsport Reunion. The event is the world’s largest gathering of vintage and recent Porsche race cars, renowned drivers, and Porsche collector cars. It’s a must-see for Porsche aficionados, offering an unrivaled opportunity to immerse oneself in the rich history of the legendary German marque.
29. Off-Road Expo, California
For those with a penchant for going off the beaten path, the Off-Road Expo in Pomona, California, is a must-visit. This event showcases the latest off-road vehicles, parts, equipment, and gear. From sand buggies and rock crawlers to 4x4s and motorcycles, the Off-Road Expo features everything an off-road enthusiast could want. It also includes demonstrations, workshops, and the chance to meet industry experts and celebrities. If you love the thrill of off-roading, this event will take you to the heart of the action.
30. The Texas Mile, Texas
Speed freaks, this one is for you. The Texas Mile is a bi-annual event that allows participants to test their vehicle’s top speed on a 1-mile track. It’s one of the most challenging events of its kind, with a range of vehicles, from sport compacts to exotic supercars, all pushing their limits. As a spectator, you get to witness thrilling high-speed runs and the occasional record-breaking performance.
And there you have it – a comprehensive guide to the top 30 automotive events in the United States. Each of these events offers a unique experience, whether it’s the thrill of a high-speed race, the elegance of a classic car show, the excitement of a live auction, or the camaraderie of a car meet. These events celebrate the diversity, creativity, and passion of America’s automotive culture. They are a testament to the love affair between Americans and their cars – a relationship that is, quite literally, as old as the automobile itself.
Whether you’re a die-hard car enthusiast, a casual fan, or just someone who appreciates the art and engineering of automobiles, these events offer a chance to immerse yourself in the world of cars. They provide a platform to learn, to explore, and to connect with others who share your passion. They are a celebration of the past, a glimpse into the future, and a testament to the ongoing innovation and evolution of the automotive industry.
So, if you’re looking to fuel your passion for cars, consider attending one or more of these automotive events. From the roar of engines at a race track to the gleam of polished chrome at a car show, these events are sure to provide an unforgettable experience. And who knows? You might just find yourself behind the wheel of your dream car.
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