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With over a thousand vehicles inside, automotive lovers can stroll through the Darryl Starbird show, feasting their eyes on some of the most beautiful, innovative and powerful cars ever built.

Rob Harmon
February 1, 2017

For nearly 60 years, Darryl Starbird’s National Rod & Custom Car Show has thrilled and awed automobile lovers from around the world. This year’s show, sponsored by 21R Youth Racing League, will welcome thousands of custom car enthusiasts and plenty of curiosity seekers into Expo Square for an already packed three-day line-up of fun and excitement.

The car show has always had something for everyone to see. With over a thousand vehicles inside and many more expected outside — weather permitting — automotive lovers can stroll through the exhibition, feasting their eyes for hours on some of the most beautiful, innovative and powerful cars ever built.

Bryce Bledsoe, grandson of the founder, Darryl Starbird, and a huge fan himself of hot rods and custom cars, is red up about this year’s show and all the events visitors can participate in. He says that people visiting for the first time are always surprised at the variation of automotive vehicles they’ll see.

“Most people who have
never been to our show
before are surprised by
the entertainment. It’s
a lot like going to the fair
 but the main attraction is, of
 course, cars,” Bledsoe says. “Our
 diverse vendors, the entertainment
– everything, really – comes as a surprise to people that there are so many interesting things to do. The best thing of all is that it’s all under one ticket price.”

For example, since it’s off season for bull riders, a bull riding competition that is free with an admission to the car show could potentially draw some big names in the rodeo and bull riding circuit, ready to strut their stuff. LJ Jenkins Bull Riding Tour is headlining the event.

“Don’t hold me to it,” Bledsoe says, “but I’m told there could be some big names from PBR [Professional Bull Riders] because you’ve got some of them looking for venues around this time. It could be pretty exciting.”

He’s also pumped about this year’s demolition derby Saturday night inside the Action Arena, an experience a lot of people have never seen in person.

“So, we do two classes,” says Bledsoe. “One with the smaller cars and the other with
 the larger ones. We have eight or 10 cars. They just hit the heck out of each other until there’s a winner. It’s a mix of people from around here, Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, all the neighboring states. It’s just another way for them to get out there and compete.”

Other events expected to happen inside the Action Arena are a mini-bike drag as well as lawnmower races.

For the second year in a row, the car show 
is throwing a party to coincide with the exhibition. The Rockin’ Billy Bash is back with more cool things to do in celebration of the custom car and hot rod culture. And this year, some pretty famous people are joining in.

Masters of custom design, Dave Kindig and Kevin Schiele of Kindig-it Designs from Velocity channel’s Bitchin’ Rides, will be there shaking hands, giving out autographs and sharing their experiences about life in the custom car design industry. Also, Master of the Fine Line pinstriper Von Hot Rod and Lil’ Daddy Roth will be showing o their incomparable skills.

In addition to everything else
going on during the bash, an
 entire slew of tattoo artists are expected to attend for anyone
wishing to commemorate the weekend by getting a little ink.

In the spirit of the ‘50s and ‘60s pinup subculture that always seem to be associated with gear heads and greasers, Delicious Dolls Magazine will be hosting a Miss Bubbletop Pinup Contest. Sass, curls, waist highs, red lipstick and tattoos will be on full display throughout the whole weekend. On the live stage, rock ‘n’ roll entertainment will be provided by Eddie Valen, Brian Lee Dunning, Kelli Lynn and the Skillet Lickers.

For the dudes, a beard and mustache contest will feature four different classes: full beard, mustache, partial beard and free-style (whatever that may be). With two contests Saturday, some lucky guys will walk away as this year’s champions. All proceeds of the competition go to a cancer research fund in honor of custom car builder Bo Huff.

“The beard contest always brings out some fun people who like to sport the beard,” Bledsoe says of one of his favorite parts of the weekend.

For owners of
 totally awesome
 cars who will not
 be able to show
 their car inside for 
the entire weekend,
 another cool aspect
 of the weekend is the
 Cool Car Corral. Anyone from
 anywhere who wants to drive their sweet ride to the event and participate by showing off its alterations can do so by cruising right into the outdoor showing area.

“We know that not everybody has the time or the ability to stick around for the whole weekend,” he says. “So this way, people 
can come up to the show, and share what they’ve done with their car. There’s always a buzz when people show up with cool cars. We want to give people a chance to do so. Then, when they’re ready to leave, they can just drive off.” Those who participate and pay a at fee get two weekend passes to the whole event.

Darryl Starbird's National Rod & Custom Car Show
Expo Square | Tulsa
Feb. 17: Noon-11 p.m.
Feb. 18: 10 a.m.-11 p.m.
Feb. 19: 10 a.m.-6 p.m.