Alva restaurant manager, Jim Clemons, had an idea that would blossom into an annual Alva tradition. His plan included a $25.00 registration fee, and a $5.00 spectator fee. It was open to all classes interested in participating. The event was to be held at the VFW Supper Club on the Woods County Fairgrounds in June of 1999 with several residents expressing interest and making plans to attend. However, Mother Nature made a surprise appearance bringing high winds and tornado activity to Alva and surrounding vicinity the night before the show. Because of the storms passing through, attendance was scarce with 18 cars in all. The idea was great but the concept needed tweeking.
Founding R.A.C.E. (Racing and Cruising Enthusiast) members Mike Dunker, Larry Smith, Norville Ritter, and Myron Bradt decided that Alva should have a great car show and began rolling around ideas to make this dream a reality. After a Saturday night race in Wichita, Kansas, Ritter, Dunker, and Smith dropped in on the free car show at Lake Afton. Inspiration struck, this was the basic format they were after: no entry fees, no spectator fees, and a relaxed atmosphere. After they returned home, they began seriously recruiting members for R.A.C.E. and fund-raising. Financially assisted by donations from the Tourism Tax revenues and local community support, the Inaugural Alva Big Cruise and Car Show was launched on the first weekend following Labor Day, September 2001. It was free to the public, free to participants and an instant success with 62 cars. The burnout contest was held in the V.A.P. parking lot. Lots of trophies, merchandise, and cash prizes were handed out. This was not a bad turnout for short notice and word-of-mouth advertising.
The 2nd Annual Big Cruise and Car Show was held at the Woods County Fairgrounds. It was a two-day affair starting Friday night and culminating with Flame-out contest downtown on the Square Saturday night. The show also boasted a Stereo Competition with chamber bucks and trophies for all categories, both vehicles and audio. KXLS Radio and B.O.S.S. Music provided a backdrop of cool cruising tunes. The Alva Area Chamber of Commerce came on board to co-host festivities including the ultra-cool Big Cruise through town Friday night before the show and ending with the drawing for prizes from local Chamber merchants. An U.S.A.C. Stereo competition was held on Sunday. Attendance this year was 118 entrants. We were rapidly out growing our present location. R.A.C.E. with encouragement from the Alva Chamber of Commerce, opted for a change of venue and date to not compete with the Woods County Fair in September. It was changed to the 3rd weekend in September and moved downtown.
Big changes were in store for Cruisers. Location is EVERYTHING! This year the show was held in Downtown Alva on the Square, which proved to be an ideal location. There were 20 hours of live music, food, and merchandise vendors and cars! Despite the heavy rainfall in the entire rest of Oklahoma and Kansas, attendance was at an all-time high with 170 entrants. Additional excitement was again provided with the Flameout Contest, Burnout Contest, and a new contest the Go & Whoa, held under the lights on the downtown streets. The cruise ended with a midnight drawing for $650.00 cold hard cash. This year, the event carried over to a 2nd day with the Racers for Christ devotional service, stereo contest, and more car show awards presented on Sunday afternoon. The downtown location provided a naturally convenient venue for the display of entrants and great central location.
The 4th Annual show went well. There were Beautiful weather and beautiful cars. This year R.A.C.E. added a model car contest, bike drags, wheel chair races, and frozen t-shirt contest. The burnout contest was huge, and Miss Cruise and Car Show gave away $650.00 cash to some lucky cruisers at 11:00 pm sharp on Saturday night. The local band Munkyz Uncle rocked the Saturday night crowd until midnight.
This year R.A.C.E. brought in a chassis dyno that all show entrants could make a free run on. The dyno was busy from morning till evening (even the Oklahoma Highway Patrol took a turn). Another highlight was monster trucks crushing cars. A poker walk was added and proved quite popular. The Mike McClure Band took a break at 11:00 p.m. to hand out $800.00 cash to the crowd. Saturday’s modeling contest and Sunday’s bike drags continue to grow, this is a great way for kids to be involved. We’re getting ever so close to the 200 mark. This year we had 193 car, motorcycle, and truck entries.
FRIDAY night caught R.A.C.E. staff a little off guard. Three times as many people showed up for the pre-registration cookout than ever before (we ran out of food twice). Spectators stood slack jawed as cars, trucks, cycles, etc. did impromptu burnouts past the police station on the closed loop cruise route.
SATURDAY dawned the gorgeous weather and a flood of entrants. 238 had entered by noon, joined by the countless others that didn’t bother to register. We had more motorcycles this year. This year awards were given for the top three dyno pulls. It looks like you better bring 500 Hp to contend for the award. Rock band Locomotive played at the burnout contest. That along with expanding to Pro and Amateur, ratcheted up the intensity. The Grizzleheads played until 11:30 pm
SUNDAY’S Stereo Contest was bigger, better, and louder than ever. One of the R.A.C.E. members broke down and bought the latest and greatest sound testing equipment.
Governor Brad Henry 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. However, the theme should have been BIG. There was a BIG monster truck (The Barbarian) getting BIG air. There were BIG engines getting BIG numbers on the dyno (786). The biggest engine vehicle we have ever had entered in the burn-out contest (a hot rod Winnebago) that made BIG smoke.
$4.00 gas prices had the R.A.C.E. staff shaking in their Nikes. A $15.00 gas incentive was offered to anyone coming 35 miles or more. Would anyone show up?
Holy hot rods Batman! Cars, trucks, and bikes rolled in from all directions. Registration was up 4%. The long-distance award came from Georgia.
FRIDAY night there was a full on super comp dragster to cruising the streets. SATURDAY afternoon the stunt riders from Speed Channel Superbikes wowed the crowd. SATURDAY night the Winnebago broke and the Wenzel brothers claimed their 3rd Burnout Title. The band rocked the street. Miss Cruise and Car Show, Ashlynn Frey led the late-night cruise. SUNDAY’S free breakfast crowd ran out of pancakes. Some fantastic stereo comp contestants abused their stuff. Larry gave away more prize money than ever to all the winners. We ended with a water balloon fight. WHAT A WEEKEND!
A bunch of low riders from Wichita slid in to party for the weekend. There were sparks, flames, torched metal, and big boom music. Everything was larger – larger car count, larger crowd, larger prizes, and larger numbers on the dyno. Fortunately, the car club and volunteer staff numbers have gotten larger to handle the event. For the first time a truck (we don’t consider an El Camino a truck) took the R.A.C.E. Award. It was the most gorgeous 4 x 4 Willys you ever saw. The R.A.C.E. Award is our most prestigious prize. It is voted on by a panel of R.A.C.E. club members. The winner makes off with a 7-foot trophy and prizes presented in front of the Saturday night crowd.
The jet truck that was scheduled to run at 4:00 Saturday afternoon showed up at 8:00 Saturday night. We had an awesome firework show fired off a downtown building. Major thanks to the Bang Gang for the pyrotechnics, and Dr. Larry Smith for the roof top! We held our 1st Autocross Sunday afternoon. Lots of squealing and smoking tires. Great fun!
165’ drag racing is a hit! Cars & spectators came out of the woodwork. R.A.C.E. members had a sharp learning curve on holding a race. Alva Rotary Club’s 4th of July show got rained out so they shot off fireworks at Ranger Stadium after the Saturday night burnout. It was magnificent! The Hopeton Church took over Sunday for Worship and a free breakfast. What a feast it was!
Longtime R.A.C.E. member Stan Kline’s birthday fell on the 20th. Stan wanted to go to Vegas, but was a great sport and stayed to help with the show to celebrate. We had a jet dragster do a fire show. One of the items we burned up was Stan’s birthday cake! There were very few hotel rooms due to the oil boom but the car show, autocross, and street race all grew! We’re thankful and are looking forward to the new hotels opening in 2013.
Two funny cars (one nitro and one alcohol) lit up Saturday night’s burnout contest big time. The echo off of the buildings was incredible. The Dyno guys were in a nasty wreck on the way to the show. There were some injuries but everyone has recovered and hope to dyno in Alva in ’14! As always, the autocross, street drags, and the car show grew. 331 different cars were registered for the weekend (plus all the unregistered cars). The first Big Cruise and Car Show Tattoo contest on Friday night was very colorful. We all learned a lot!
340 cars rolled into downtown for the show. That’s Awesome! All the dyno spots for Saturday were filled on Friday night. That’s Cool! The dyno computer shorts out when the first car gets on the roller. THAT BITES! Except for that glitch the weekend went great! The autocross and the street race had more entries and faster cars. The burnout had huge crowds. The show cars were over the top. We gave out a record number of trophies and money. Next Year Booking two dynos!
Doc and Dominator hit town on Friday night, unloaded, and did the Friday night cruise! Instant rock stars! For the next two days, they kissed babies, took pictures, and made exhibition passes. Outlaw Mania was in full bloom and everybody loved it. Only one dyno showed but it worked flawlessly. The street race was more competitive than ever with more cars and faster cars. Time for a few new rules. 401 cars, trucks, and bikes registered. This was Norville Ritter’s last year as the event coordinator. Joe Phillips and David Ingraham took over for 2016. Over 400 cars registered for the weekend. The new guys are shooting for 450!
Joe & David hit it out of the park! 474 cars, trucks, & bikes roll into Alva for our 16th show. Cutty, White Rhino, Red Dragon, and Yeti show up from the Street Outlaws, and enter the Street Race. Speedway Karts show up and enter the Autocross. The dyno operator has a heart attack (he's had surgery and is recovering). The Burn Out winner came with a blower on the motor. There was a huge number of perfect show cars to try to pick the "best of" winners from. This thing has gotten crazy! Teenage crazy! 16 years old teenage crazy!
The original Eddie Munster (Butch Patrick) along with the Munster Coach & Grampa's Coffin Car show up and spend the weekend in Alva. Munster Mania was in full bloom. Due to the increasing size of the show, we moved registration to the Act I theater. Awe, room, sweet room!
Friday Night (Early registration, free cookout, downtown cruise, and free movie) saw approximately 70% of the show participants arrive and register. Rain on Saturday afternoon saw some of the BEST OF winners pull out believing we were rained out. Rain stopped, we picked out new winners and the Saturday night party continued on at full speed.
We can't wait to see everyone in September!