How Will Coronavirus Affect Your Local Car Shows?

If you were wondering whether to go to an NBA game or catching the NHRA Gatornationals in Florida, you can stop wondering. Many sports and racing organizations have decided for you in the wake of the coronavirus. Everything from IMSA to IndyCar and NASCAR too has canceled, postponed, or decided to race sans spectators for the next few weeks. So it’s understood that large gatherings are verboten. But what about those smaller car gatherings? The relatively small Cars and Coffee or cruise night meetups. What about them?

Can the coronavirus affect a locals-only car show?

At the bayside people enjoy outdoor activities, including a vintage car show, during a long Labor Day weekend at Deal Island, Maryland on September 2, 2018. The American public holiday of Labor Day, on the first Monday in September is considered the unofficial end of Summer. (Photo by Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Modest car and truck gatherings happen every weekend. Many say they are not canceling because these events attract mostly local interest and don’t attract international attendees. Since no international travel is involved most organizers say there’s no danger. 

“It’s likely that smaller gatherings will still continue unless things get considerably more dier and alarming,” automotive consultant Robert Ross told USA Today. “People will be circumspect about anything that requires long-distance travel by air.” He may be right but that doesn’t mean anyone will show up. There may be an assumption the show is canceled.

The 2020 Portland Roadster Show is a small car show but it has been postponed

Outdoor Woodie Show in Santa Barbara | Getty

Even smaller gatherings like the Portland Roadster Show in Portland, Oregon, have been canceled. Of course, it is held indoors which is not the same as attending an outdoor gathering. “People are obviously concerned about it,” said Jim Evans who runs the All Sports Car Swap Autojumble in Wheaton, Illinois. “I am expecting a lower turnout. This type of event caters to an older crowd who are more vulnerable to the situation.”

Which raises the question if the event organizer is saying this why is he still planning on having the event? If it’s a car swap meet people will be picking up parts and exchanging money. They’ll be touching things other strangers have touched. That’s how bacteria and viruses spread. Since it takes up to 14 days for symptoms to appear many would-be carriers will feel quite fine even if infected.

Show organizers are naturally concerned about the bottom line, too

Open air car show | Getty

Naturally, organizers are concerned about their bottom line. Troy Seyfer, who runs the Tri-State Auto Show in Denver told USA Today, “If people don’t want to go to a crowded place that’s going to be a problem. That could be a $40,000 in ticket sales loss for us.” Yeah, well everyone would agree. But what if people in the Denver area contracted the coronavirus at the Tri-State Show? We wonder how Seyfer would feel about it then?

Down in Wesley Chapel, Florida, the Quail Run Classic Car Show was canceled at the last minute. This was after the NHRA canceled its Gatornationals in Gainesville and IndyCar canceled its season opener in St. Petersburg this weekend. Show organizer Vince Roe said, “Everybody understands that we were more concerned about keeping everybody as healthy as we can rather than worrying about a four-hour event.”

The organizer will be eating the event shirts but has the food and drink already sold

We magically can show you all of the coronavirus lurking at this outdoor car show | Getty

Roe will be eating the event T-shirts but a local convenience store will be buying the food and drinks he ordered in advance. At least he can feel good about seeing his attendees and spectators next year barring any of them being exposed someplace else. 

Soon after Troy Sefer’s comments were published clearer heads prevailed and he chose to postpone the Tri-State Auto Show in Denver for a future date. Car enthusiasts are like a big family. We need to keep each other healthy and happy.