Jim’s Blog: Planning Ahead in Reno, and on to Monterey!

Hot August Nights is a busy event — every day, from dawn until well after dark, there are car events happening all over the Reno-Sparks area. You have to plan out your day carefully to be sure you get to everything you want to see. But even the most well-thought-out plans have a tendency of falling to pieces every once in a while, and that certainly was the case for us this year.

ACC Associate Editor Chad Tyson and I initially thought we had a good plan: We’d go to Sparks on Friday night for the drags and shoot the cruise in downtown Reno on Saturday. So we climbed in the Viper and headed to Sparks around 6 pm Friday evening — but by then, all the parking in a three-mile radius was gone, save for driving up on a curb somewhere, and I wasn’t about to do that in our minty low-slung Viper. So after circling for 45 minutes and heat-soaking the V10 in slow-moving cruise traffic, we changed our plan: head back to Reno for the cruise that night, and return even earlier to Sparks on Saturday so we’d get decent parking for the drags. No real problem, and lesson learned.

So back to Reno we went, and once we got back to the hotel, we parked the Viper inside the parking structure, hiked out to the action, and shot until the last light of day faded from the sky. Thousands of people lined both sides of the street as customs, hot rods, and muscle cars rolled past. Kids threw candy to the crowd from the back seats of their grandparents’ cruisers, and drivers revved their engines and fired off tailpipe flame throwers as they passed under the illuminated Reno sign. Fireworks overhead capped it off at the end of the night.

We were back on the same section of street on Saturday morning, shooting pictures as temperatures crested 95 degrees. Later in the day, as we were gearing up to try for Sparks again, our plan fell apart for the second time. My cell phone screamed about a dust storm in the area: “widespread blowing dust, visibility under 100 feet, gusts of 50 mph. Avoid travel.” A quick glance outside of the hotel showed flags at rigid attention, and even though Sparks is just a couple of freeway exits from where we were staying, I still couldn’t shake the image of our low-mile Viper getting sandblasted. I didn’t want to risk the paint, even if the danger was remote, so we stuck to Reno for a second night. I was bummed to miss the races, but there are certainly worse places to be than where we were. I think we’ll do it differently next year — maybe staying closer to the races and cruising in Sparks.

This week, the ACC and SCM crew heads to Monterey, California for this year’s annual Monterey and Pebble Beach auctions, concours, and vintage races. We’ll be reporting on the action from the peninsula in upcoming issues of ACC and SCM. Will this year’s auction sales top last year’s $308m total? Stay tuned.