Let’s be honest, having a dirty car at a show is no secret. Everyone sees it. Well, maybe not “everyone”…Stevie Wonder goes to car shows, right?
Every show, after roll-in (and most times before roll in) we see people cleaning, tidying, and detailing their cars. There are even people that start the detailing process before checking in at the registration desk, which is ass backwards [more on “Roll-in / Roll-out” in a future blog post]. Sometimes we even see people break out the power polishers for that last-minute shine up. I applaud those people that have pride in their builds and take every second they can to ensure their car shows well. After all, you’re entering a vehicle in a car show, and by definition, it will be judged and scrutinized.
One of my biggest peeves is a dirty car at a car show. If you are a Driven competitor reading this, I’m sure you’ve seen me out there judging… on the floor, crawling around vehicles with my flashlight, examining all the nooks of these show cars. When I say that I look at everything, I mean everything …. from dust on your vent louvers & streaks on your glass, to brake dust on the inner barrels of your wheels. You can’t hide your dirty secrets at Driven.
Rewind to Driven 2018. There was a group of car owners that consciously decided to not clean their cars for the show. Yes, you read that right. They paid money to have their cars in the show, drove a long ass way to get to the show, rolled in, and then just left their cars as-is. Now, this could be because they showed up 5 minutes before the show was scheduled to open, or maybe it was because they were trying to make a statement. I guess by the end of the show, the only statement that mattered was that they won zero awards, regardless of how “cool” or “built” their cars were.
The 2019 shows didn’t see many of the “dirty car” competitors, but there are still things that really made me cringe. One of these to note: shit left in your car. I don’t want to see your sunglasses, charging cord, vape, receipts in the door pockets, food wrappers, cleaning rags & bottles, and other garbage & clutter. Remove the clutter or put it in your trunk. If you can’t remove the clutter, or have a trunk that you are displaying [so obviously you can’t put your junk in there], tuck your clutter under your seat and cover it with a black t-shirt to make it unnoticeable.
Here are tips from a detailer:
- For hard to reach/clean areas, such as vents, cup holders, panel seams, around buttons/knobs, and whatnot; make sure you have an assortment of different sized brushes. Q-tips and toothpicks also come in handy for getting into places that are tricky to clean with brushes
- Steam clean your carpets and upholstery. ONR (Optimum No Rinse) & water in your steamer will do wonders.
- If you have leather, be careful what cleaners you use, as some will damage the leather. Use a gentle cleaner and follow up with a conditioner…not a dressing or quick detailer.
- Boner points if you have crisp vacuum tracks on your carpet/mats. It really shows your attention to detail.
From a judging perspective:
- First and foremost, do your major detailing at home, before the show!
- After roll-in, and after you check in at the registration desk, do your final clean.
- Clean the inside of your glass…not just the outside.
- Take all the junk out of the interior of your car
- Finally, walk around your damn vehicle. Look at it from all angles that spectators and judges will be looking at it. This includes the interior, engine bay, and trunk! Any streaks, dirt, or mess you see should be cleaned, not just left there.
There are a couple things that I wish I saw more of, which might be too detailed for a lot of you, but I feel they make a difference….. the little attention to detail, that may just give you the edge up on your competition for winning an award. First, when you’re dressing the side walls of your tires, also dress the treads. Pick the rocks out of the treads and give them a wipe down with your tire detailer. Second, wipe down the inner barrel of your wheels. If you can see the dirt and brake dust, so can everyone else.
So now you’re wondering about those cars at the show that, for lack of a better phrase, are ‘meant to be dirty’, such as track/race cars or rat rods…Well, I can say that even most of those are detailed. Albeit there may be some leeway with these types of entries, they typically aren’t hunting for the same awards are 95% of the competitors. Conversely, there was a track prepped, dyno sheet proven, ~1200HP MKIII Supra at the Saskatoon Driven show that was so clean that not even 6ix9ine could find dirt on it.
Obviously, the Driven Show wants to increase attendance each year, and having top-quality, CLEAN cars at the show, is one way to help achieve that goal. So much so, that one of the sponsors [Auto Obsessed] offers the competitors free use of their detailing (paint finish & tire dress) sprays. Having used these products over the last few years, I think they are great….and they’re free for the competitors to try out at the Driven shows, so why not?!
I don’t care what kind of vehicle you have entered in the show, it’s no secret that you aren’t going to win shit if it’s dirty. — I only wish someone made a spray to clean these fad’s from the cars. SMFH
Coming in January: my take on tilty wheels, bolt-on fender flares, big wings, and other fad’s