INDIANAPOLIS — For the custom car enthusiast, the Indiana State Fairgrounds became their utopia this past weekend.
Indianapolis welcomed the World of Wheels auto show for the 54th consecutive year as thousands shuffled into the fairgrounds over a three-day period.
“We had to turn 70 vehicles away that wanted to enter, so the event is as strong as ever, very much so,” said announcer Doc Riley, who announces for various World of Wheels and Autorama events.
While the custom cars are always a mainstay, Riley says there’s a new angle and twist to the show every year. This year, the World of Wheels had a blast from the past in the form of the famed Dragula car from the 1960s television show “The Munsters.”
Butch Patrick, who played Eddie Munster in the show about a family of monsters, was on hand throughout the weekend to talk to fans and sign autographs.
“He’s a really good guy,” Riley said of Patrick. “We had him a couple years ago and then one of the guys found the Dragula car and it just kind of fit hand in hand. He runs the Munsters website. It’s been very well received.”
Riley said that every stop on the World of Wheels tour has a unique atmosphere and Indianapolis is no different.
“We have a big car culture here,” he said. “I wasn’t around in the 1950s or ‘60s, but it’s nice to hear some of the old-timers talk about some of the local cruise-in spots. I think the hot rod culture has always been here. There’s a custom motorcycle show that goes on here and then the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was out this weekend with the display for the Moto GP race.”
Riley said there have been some definite trends and evolutions over the years. He said custom trucks have become a lot more popular and new types of paint could lead to more intricate styling down the road. One vehicle model in particular seems to be on the rise in customability.
“I think there’s been a rise of the El Camino that wasn’t really customized in the past,” Riley said. “People have always said ‘what can you do with it?’ but it really lends itself to being customized.
“One of the big trends is that you’ve got this water-based paint right now that’s been out for the last couple of years. I can’t think of too many radical paint schemes yet, but I think it’s going to lend itself to more of that.”
More than anything though, Riley said the real gems of the World of Wheels come from the stories of the people who bring it to life, spanning generations and cementing life-long relationships.
“I don’t remember his name, but there’s a guy here, and this show’s been going on for 54 years,” he said. “He and his wife met probably 30 years ago and one of their first dates was to the World of Wheels. He picked her up in his car and they went, and throughout the years they’ve gone and he’d been fiddling with cars, but nothing special.
“He ended up finding a car he liked and he pulled this ruse with her of ‘let’s go to the show.’ They were walking around and she saw his name and information on the car and he said ‘happy anniversary.’”
Riley said he loves seeing several generations of patrons attend the event.
“One trend you do see, and we see an awful lot of people doing this, you’ll see these cars passed down from generation to generation,” he said.