What's great in wine, beer, fine dining,
places to stay, & places to visit
in California State

Displaying items by tag: Hot August Nights

Sunday, 08 January 2017 13:50

Cinderella Story: Ele Chesney’s Journey

TASTE News Service, January 9, 2017 - Don’t ever give up. That’s the mantra longtime Barrett-Jackson customer Ele Chesney lives by, and adamantly tells the scores of girls she often addresses when asked to speak at schools.

Saturday, 17 August 2013 16:01

Good Times Rolling in Reno

by Dan Clarke

Chevy Impala 409 Convertible PicmonkeyOwner is asking $46k for this '63 409 convertible. My brother and I were in Reno last week. We were there to attend Hot August Nights and the first Barrett-Jackson Auction to be held in that city. On Wednesday evening we drove out to the opening party at the Convention Center, site of the auction. As we got further away from the casinos, Reno was looking less familiar to me. The city's main street is called South Virginia after it leaves downtown, eventually becoming Hwy 395. Same road, just different definitions. I was noting all the recent development south of town when I remembered traveling on the same road years before, but in a different convertible.

I was visiting a girl who was living temporarily in Reno. Somehow she talked Andy, a mutual friend, into loaning us his recently-acquired Chevy 409 convertible for the day. It was a 1963 model and less than a year old at the time. We had a wonderful drive over to Virginia City for the camel races, top down and smelling sage all the way. Returning to Reno in the early evening, we were on that era's much less-developed South Virginia Street when I was pulled over by the Reno PD. Did I know that I was going 75 miles per hour in the City of Reno, the officer inquired? “No sir,” I replied. “I didn't realize it.” He then asked, “You don't drive that way in California, do you?” In truth, it seemed I had been going really slowly coming into town since I had backed off from the 100-plus I'd been doing much of the return from Virginia City, but figured that wasn't my best line of defense. “No sir,” I again responded, offering a rather meek explanation that I was in an unfamiliar car and henceforth would be much more careful. Having been warned and scolded, we were allowed to continue on into town. No ticket.

Pontiac GrandvilleThe Grandville--so long, so powerful. Cars can trigger memories. Also fantasies and ambitions. Probably all of these have motivated my watching Speed Channel telecasts of Barrett-Jackson auctions. These auctions take place over several days, with quality and scarcity of the cars rising each day. While the latter offerings can go for more than a million dollars, most cars auctioned on the opening day are affordable for the average guy. My brother Kevin and I were interested in these. Though we didn't register as bidders, we saw a couple of vehicles we liked. Auctioned in succession were a red 1973 Pontiac Grandville convertible, which sold for $13,750 and a black 1967 Lincoln Continental 4-door convertible ($18,700).. These were “drivers,” not concours winners, but they looked to be in very good condition and went for half the price of an inexpensive new car. Admittedly, gas mileage wouldn't be good, but could you have as much fun in a Prius?

Bill and Sharon HadsallBill and Sharon Hadsall, 21-year veterans. Hot August Nights is a 26-year tradition in Reno. At night it's an homage to cruising, a custom from the bygone youth of many of the participants. It's also a great daytime car show. Downtown, the entrants in the Show-n-Shine competition are backed into parking spaces in herringbone fashion and streets are closed to normal traffic so visitors can stroll streets and sidewalks as they ogle the cars. Our first day in town we were fortunate to run into Bill and Sharon Hadsall. Though they live on Washington's Olympic Peninsula, they've attended Hot August Nights for the last 21 years. There wasn't much Bill didn't know about the event and it was helpful to get the lowdown from him as we began our adventure.

I was surprised at how many older cars were displayed. Many of these, like the impeccably restored 1949 Buick Roadmaster Convertible, were more elegant than cruiser-ish. Powerful perhaps, but not hot rods (do people even use that term anymore?). There was a flawless green '47 or Gary Fisher 56 Cad PicmonkeyKevin Clarke (at left) learns about Gary's '56.'48 Lincoln, which I think would have been defined as a formal sedan, rather than a limousine, though it did have a glass partition between the front seat and the passenger compartment. A gorgeous red 1952 Hudson was a treat. From a time just a shade before the cruising era, it was considered a powerful car in its day. The Rocket 88 engine made Oldsmobiles move quickly, too, but Hudsons won 52 of 57 NASCAR races in 1952. How's that for dominance? I'm partial to Cadillacs, having once been the possessor of an all-black Coupe de Ville. One of the first car owners we met was Gary Fisher. Since leaving his dental practice he has has spent much of his time playing golf and restoring a very nice blue and white example from 1956. Gary was one of several owners we encountered who had brought photo albums showing what their cars looked when they acquired them and documenting the restoration process.

Though there were cars from all eras, the Hot August Nights feeling evoked the '50s and '60s. George Lucas' 1973 film American Graffiti was a pretty accurate picture of the way things were for those of us coming of age at that time.

Rock and roll recordings familiar to the grey hair set were heard inside the casinos during Hot August Nights.. Live bands played on the street. It was the music of the youth of many participants and the younger people didn't seem to mind either. At least in retrospect, the era seemed all about innocent exuberance. Some years ago I had read of problems caused by unruly crowds, but didn'tReno Pd Bryan and Crag PicmonkeyBryan and Craig keeping the peace on Virginia Street. see any evidence of that sort of thing this trip. When I asked Craig and Bryan, a couple of Reno's finest, about such problems, they acknowledged there had been disruptions in the past but said crowd control methods had been adjusted. They assured me that all had been harmonious for several years. I noticed people strolling through the outdoor car display while drinking beer. Was this allowed, I asked? The city had designated a section downtown where it was allowed, the officers explained to me and so far there didn't seem to be any problems. It was a refreshing scene for this short-term escapee from California's oppressive nanny state.

The cops were friendly. So were the car owners. As were the folks who come to admire the cars. Ditto for the casino and hospitality industry employees. Volunteer traffic monitors during the nighttime cruises kept pedestrians from crossing streets at the wrong time, but did so in very polite fashion. It was a big party and the crowds were substantial, but all seemed to go smoothly. There might have been some unhappy people in Reno, but we didn't run into any of them. Good vibes were all around.

If you go

We weren't in Reno to do a comprehensive travel piece, but a few places we can recommend include:

Reno Aces Logo Picmonkey

Aces Ballpark—The Reno Aces are a AAA affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks playing in the Pacific Coast League. They play in a beautiful, intimate park downtown just a couple of blocks east of Virginia Street. We wanted to cheer Aces Manager Brett Butler, an ex-SF Giant and, we must admit, an ex-Dodger, to victory over the Memphis Redbirds, a St. Louis Cardinal affiliate, but a spectacular storm halted play in bottom of the first inning. Thunder. Lightning. Cats. Dogs. Even a valiant grounds crew and big tarp couldn't save this night. Rained out.


Great Basin Brewing logo PicmonkeyGreat Basin Brewing Co.--Brewery has brewpub at intersection of So. Virginia and So. McCarran Streets. We enjoyed good beers and better than average bar snacks. Bristol, our friendly server, said she really enjoyed Hot August Nights. We asked if she could drive any car in the cruise, what would it be? Given her youth, we'd have expected to hear Corvette or Mustang. No, she would prefer a 1939 Packard, she replied. Obviously a young woman of taste and discernment.


Brew Brothers Tap Handles

Brew Brothers–Brewpub inside the El Dorado Hotel and Casino downtown. Greg, the brewmaster, does great job making his beers right on the premises. My favorite is Carano Extra, a German Kölsch-style beer served in 22-ounce glass. Way better food than we'd have expected in a casino, too.



Louis Basque Corner Picmonkey

Louis Basque Corner—Though Louis has retired and sold out to new young owners, the place had the same feel as in the old days. Family-style seating and family-style serving. Their multi-course meals assure that you'll never leave hungry. We had entrees of prime rib and very thick lamb chops for about $25 each. This included all the preliminaries, a small-carafe of house wine and dessert. For another $22 we had a 750ml bottle of good Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon, bearing a Basque name on its label. A Reno tradition. 

by Kevin Clarke

BJ Auction Crowd with Auctioneer PicmonkeyIs it the winning bid?Watching Barrett Jackson auctions of classic and collector cars on the Speed Channel is a guilty pleasure in my house. Whether they were telecast from Scottsdale, Las Vegas or Palm Beach, they were too far away for me to consider a trip from Washington state to see them in person. I was delighted to hear it announced on a recent telecast they were coming to Reno, Nevada to partner with Hot August Nights. Though I don’t understand why, I had never attended Hot August Nights either. It is reportedly the largest gathering of collector cars in the United States and is a celebration of America’s love affair with automobiles and Rock and Roll. Well, Reno is close enough to drive and close to family and friends. So a road trip was planned to attend with my equally car crazy brother.

Jerrys 51 PicmonkeyJerry dries off after the storm. What a delightful combination of pleasures the two car events turned out to be. You could walk the streets in downtown Reno or several other venues in Sparks or Tahoe and whet your appetite for fabulous vehicles of many different eras and styles. There were over 5,000 cars being driven and displayed in Reno and most of them talked to me in some fashion.

When I talked to the friendly owners of these cars I could imagine myself having a similarly great time if I could find a desirable car to tool around in. Hey! Let’s go to Barrett-Jackson auction over at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center and see what they might have up for sale. How about walking among those cars waiting their turn on the auction block? Spectators had complete access to these vehicles displayed adjacent to the auction area itself. It was an effort not to drool on oh-so-many of the gorgeous cars. The auction itself was, not surprisingly, just like I have watched on television. There were the familiar faces of Craig Jackson, Steve Davis and those on the auctioneering staff moving through the audience and ensuring that bids were recognized. Though I didn’t prepare myself to be a bidder, it was fun to watch the entire process “up close and personal”.

tomandcherie PicmonkeyTom and Cherie drove from North Dakota in their '38 Chevy. In addition to the cars offered at auction, Barrett – Jackson also held an Authentic Automobilia Auction with over 300 items such as vintage gas pumps, and all manner of auto related signs and toys in near perfect or restored condition.

I hope the new owners of the auctioned vehicles and related items are as nice as the ones we encountered on the streets of Reno. I met four car owners from Washington state, who were toweling off their cars after a heavy rain storm the previous night. Jerry Swanstrom from Belfair, WA and has been attending Hot August Nights for 20 years and participating the last ten. His car was a beautiful red and white '51 Chevy convertible, which, despite being covered during the storm, was wet inside and out. Jerry and his friends were good natured about the inconvenience and just worked hard to get their rides back to looking great.

Tom and Cherie had come all the way from Mandan, North Dakota, driving their gorgeous 1938 Chevrolet Cabriolet with rumble seat. It was their first time at Hot August Nights though they had been planning a such a trip for about ten years. They spent five years restoring the car and have taken it to a number of other venues including both the Indianapolis and Kansas City Speedways. Tom assured us the car was very fast and proudly showed us the LT1 engine under the hood.

TOPLS38 PicmonkeyLooking very original until you open the engine compartment.The entire experience was enhanced by the many other activities available in the immediate area including live rock and roll bands on the streets, great restaurants and local brew pubs and the Reno Aces, a triple-A baseball team in a great new ball park. Of course the casinos offered their special brand of entertainment, though the real attraction was outdoors among all that (mostly) Detroit iron and chrome.

I don’t know where I have been, to miss the previous 26 years of Hot August Nights in Reno. I know I will try to make the next one. If you can’t wait another year for an auction to get your own classic car you might want to head to Las Vegas where Barrett-Jackson will be holding another “greatest collector car auction” September 26-28, 2013




Cad CTS V-Sport Picmonkey556-hp Cadillac CTS V-Sport gets final dusting on way to auction block.Known for its auctions of high-end automobiles televised from Scottsdale, Palm Beach and Las Vegas, Barrett-Jackson expanded to Reno in a big way last week. They generated more than $14 million in gross sales of exotic automobiles during their inaugural Reno auction held in that city's convention center. In addition, they affiliated with the successful and long-running Hot August Nights.

“Bringing our auction and the inaugural Barrett-Jackson Cup to Hot August Nights proved to be a successful and exciting experience for all involved,” said Criag Jackson, the company's Chairman and CEO “We're happy with this partnership and so proud of the event we brought to Reno Tahoe. We hope to make this a tradition for years to come.”

The auction house also helped to raise $620,000 for national charitable organizations bringing their total raised to-date to more than $55.9 million. Two charitable vehicles were sold during the auction, including the first 2014 Cadillac CTS V-Sport 4 Door Sedan, which sold on Friday for $120,000 and benefited the SAE Foundation. Also sold was the last retail 2014 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible, which sold the following day for half-a-million dollars. The proceeds benefited the Brain Injury Association of America.

The top 10 sales of the auction were:

2014 Shelby GT500 Convertible $500,000

1963 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible $192,000

1950 Jaguar XK 120 Roadster $178,200

1968 Shelby GT500 E Continuation Fastback $165,000

1957 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible $148,500

1961 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible $148,500

2013 Chevrolet Camaro Copo 2 Door Coupe $137,500

1968 Shelby GT500 Convertible $134,200

1970 Pontiac GTO Convertible $121,000

1961 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible $121,000

More details about the Reno Auction, as well as general information, can be found at

Editor's note: Information for this article supplied by TASTE News Service sources.

Phoenix Website Design by CitrusKiwi

© 2015-2023 Taste California Travel  | All rights reserved.