How The Big Cruise and Car Show Got Cruisin’
Alva, Oklahoma restaurant manager, Jim Clemons, had an idea. Isn’t that how all things start, with an idea? The idea was simple – a car show open to all classes interested in participating. Mother Nature made a surprise appearance the first year, 1999. High winds and tornado activity the night before the show deterred attendance. There were 18 cars the first year.
But that didn’t deter founding R.A.C.E. (Racing And Cruising Enthusiast) members Mike Dunker, Larry Smith, Norville Ritter, and Myron Bradt. Finding inspiration after visiting a car show in Wichita, the concept was simple – no entry fees, no spectator fees, and a relaxed atmosphere. After getting others to see the vision and fundraising, the Inaugural Alva Big Cruise and Car Show was launched on the first weekend following Labor Day, September 2001. It was an instant success with 62 cars.
The 2nd Annual Show grew to 118 entrants. With the growth, organizers realized a larger venue was needed. Also, a different weekend was needed so as to not compete with the Woods County Fair. The 3rd show would move to the 3rd weekend in September – where it has been ever since – and the show would be staged downtown. Live music was also added – 20 hours of live music! Food, merchandise vendors, and cars – 170 entrees!
As the Big Cruise and Car Show continues, more contests and events are added:
- model car contests
- bike drags
- frozen t-shirt contests
- burnout contests
- chassis dynos (you know it’s popular when even the Oklahoma Highway Patrol takes a turn!)
- monster trucks crushing cars
- poker walks
The Big Cruise and Car Show has had its growing pains. 2006 three times as many people showed up for the pre-registration cookout than ever before. The food tent ran out of food twice! $4.00 gas prices on year had the R.A.C.E. staff wondering if anyone would show up. A $15.00 gas incentive worked as cars, trucks, and bikes rolled in from all directions. Registration was up 4%. The long-distance award came from Georgia.
That growth caught the attention of then Governor Brad Henry who named the 2007 Big Cruise and Car Show an Oklahoma Centennial Festival Event. It gave the car show a theme for t-shirts, trophies, etc.
The annual event now boasts 470-plus cars, trucks, and bikes. It is Oklahoma’s largest free car show. This three day event features a free cookout, a car cruise through downtown, burnout contests and much more. There is something for all ages to enjoy and we look forward to you joining us in Alva!