All posts by Nicole James

Nicole James has been involved in the automotive world her entire life. Her dream car is a 1965 Shelby Daytona Coupe. She currently drives a 2005 Mustang affectionately known as Marilyn and uses the car to participate in track events, car shows, and explore the world around her. Nicole joined the Content and Marketing team in 2014. Nicole is an automotive journalist and the creator of Pretty Driven - an online source for car culture and news for millennials, as well as a contributor for Follow Nicole on Instagram and Facebook - @Nicoleeellan

Iola welcomes car enthusiasts, even younger ones

Show section dedicated to  Camaros and Firebirds | Nicole Ellan James photos
Show section dedicated to Camaros and Firebirds | Nicole Ellan James photos

Very rarely do I manage to find myself on the eastern side of the Mississippi River. Each time I do, it’s as if I am transported from Phoenix to an alternate universe –- it’s humid, everything seems oversaturated in green hues, and I not only meet some interesting characters, but the cars are always nice.

My latest such adventure took me to the Iola Car Show, held July 6-8 in Iola, Wisconsin –- a town of around 1,300 people located approximately a two-hour drive north from Madison, the state capitol.

The swap meet area was full of visitors
The swap meet area was full of visitors

For the last 45 years, over 120,000 people flock to the town of Iola for its annual three-day festival-style car show.

The event earns festival vibes with camping on site available for those with tents or campers — there’s even an area dedicated to campers made before 1975 — as well as free concerts with regional performers like Raised Reckless, Vic Ferrari, Highfield Drive and BoxKar. A PinUp contest is held along with the car corral and swap meet and car show.

Well, actually, car shows.

The show portion of the Iola festival presents over 2,000 cars showcased in groupings — Pre-War (1942 or earlier), Post-War (1945-1990), all-original vehicles pre-1976, modified cars pre-1990, as well as a Blue Ribbon Concours and a themed category dedicated to the Chevrolet Camaro and Pontiac Firebird and Trans-Am pony cars.

Staged near the “winner’s circle” and seemingly endless rows of Camaros and Firebirds was the first Camaro built, N100001, parked behind velvet ropes next to its clear trailer, with owners Corey and Logan Lawson nearby.

The Lawsons shared the story of how the car was acquired by 13-year-old Logan, a kid from Kansas, and his English-teacher grandmother, who’d been convinced by his father that buying the car was a better “college fund” investment than the stock market. The father-son team restored the car to its original specs with every single piece from an original GM part other than the seat cover and carpet.

Crowd surrounds first Camaro
Crowd surrounds first Camaro

The Lawsons tour the car to various shows. Logan Lawson told the crowd at Iola, “We’re trying to bring the history back to everyone who enjoys it.”

My favorite class at the Iola Car show was “Old Cars Young Drivers” and was just what it said — cars 25 years or older driven by enthusiasts 25 years or younger.

Aside from age restrictions, to be included in this class, cars and trucks could be stock or modified and of any quality, as long as they could be driven onto the show field under their own power.

I liked the class because I was among my peers and it was refreshing to find other people my same age who enjoyed old cars, not just the cars our same age. I also enjoyed seeing how welcoming the long-running classic car show was to the under 25 crowd and to our need for modifying our cars.

Despite the culture shock I encounter each visit east, I appreciate the “foreign” experience. They always make for the best memories.

Museums: Petersen’s ‘Deuce Day’ to celebrate the hot rod

Vic Edelbrock | Petersen photo
Vic Edelbrock Jr. | Petersen photo

The Petersen Automotive Museum will commemorate the 85th anniversary of the 1932 Ford “Deuce” with a day-long car show cruise-in and celebration on Saturday, July 15th, ‘Deuce Day.’

The car was nicknamed “Deuce” for the second digit of its model year. It was one of the first affordable production cars with a V8 engine and a favorite of hot rodders in post-war Southern California.

The car show is open to hot-rod fans of all types, with special parking on the top deck of the parking structure for ’32 Fords.  Immediately following the show, at 4:00 p.m., a procession of deuces will rally from the Petersen to the Edelbrock Museum in Torrance to pay tribute to performance icon and Los Angeles native Vic Edelbrock, who helped shape the performance industry and died June 9 at the age of 80, and to famed car builder and customizer Pete Chapouris, who also died earlier this year.

Pete Chapouris
Pete Chapouris

Other highlights includes a display of America’s Most Beautiful Roadster winners.

The day starts at 7:30 a.m. Show car registration is available online.

Car Shows 

Today, the Great Race visits Stahls Auto Museum in the Detroit area. The museum anticipates the arrival of the first car around 12:20 p.m. and will be open to the public from 3-5 p.m.

The Blackhawk Collection in Northern California holds its first-Sunday Cars & Coffee on July 2 and will celebrate Collector Car Appreciation Day on July 14, 2017.

The British Motor Museum holds the “BMC & Leyland Show” on July 2. The show will have approximately 400 vehicles on display, including cars, commercial and military, in addition to vehicles produced under the BMC marque.

Then, the museum hosts the ninth Old Ford Rally in conjunction with the Ford Y & C Register on July 15. The following day, around 600 classic Fords will go on display at the biggest rally of classic Fords in the UK.  On July 30, the British Motor Museum expects more than 700 cars from 38 different clubs to be present at “Simply Japanese,” one of the museum’s largest events.

The Kansas City Automotive Museum’s fourth annual People’s Choice Car Show is set for July 15 and runs from 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Car registration is a $10 donation to KC Automotive Museum and all makes and models are welcome.

Museums in motion

Saturday, the Simeone Museum holds a Demo Day themed “Revolutionary Rides Demo Day.” The museum plans to run some of the most revolutionary cars of their time and showcase how the “revolutionary designs” changed and influenced cars today.

The museum holds an additional Demo Day on July 22 themed “Ford vs. Chevy.” The Simeone is seeking a few die-hard Chevy supporters to help settle the age-old battle and show their Nova, Camaro, or Chevelle from the ’60s or ’70s.

On July 7, the Lane Motor Museum in Nashville holds a driving experience with visitors getting to drive some of the museum’s vehicles.

The National Corvette Museum takes enthusiasts on adventures to the Northwest Passage -– the coastal region of Seattle, Washington, Tacoma, and Mount Rainier -– set for July 26-30. Then on August 18-23 the museum heads to Kingman, Arizona and travels portions of Route 66 to Long Beach, CA with a visit to LA, followed by a drive to Roanoke, West Virginia, for some R&R on August 27-29. As with all Museum in Motion Tours, space is limited, so make sure you sign up quickly.

America’s newest racing school, the Lucas Oil School of Racing, makes its fourth stop of its 2017 racing season at the NCM Motorsports Park next month. From July 15-18, racing enthusiasts have the chance to pack the track and take in four full days of competition, as not only will there be a pair of race days, but also two days of instruction from skilled professionals.

The AACA Museum in Pennsylvania offers tours to England in early September and to Italy in November, and the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame & Museum in Knoxville, Iowa, will award a raffle winner with a trip for two to Australia that includes tickets to the Grand Annual Sprintcar Classic races. Contact the various museums for details.

The Blackhawk holds a day trip to the Pebble Beach Concours on August 20.

Exhibits and Education

The Petersen opens “the High Art of Riding Low: Ranflas, Corazón e Inspiración,” a celebration of lowriders and Chicano art on Saturday. Then, July 11, the museum’s education and programs manager Jason Hartwig will discuss the relationship between automobiles and international affairs, from the car’s infancy to the modern day.

The Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum in Indiana will debut its second online exhibit of the year on Saturday. The exhibit titled “Paul Reuter-Lorenzen: The Art of Automobile Design” is the second in a series of three online exhibits featured on the museum’s website during 2017.

The Blackhawk Museum holds its next Speaker Series event on July 8, featuring author and classic car historian Donald Osborne, who appears with his regular feature on the CNBC primetime series, “Jay Leno’s Garage.” The discussion with launch the museum’s new exhibition, Transatlantic Style – A Romance of Fins & Chrome, which is based upon Osborne’s book of the same title, which is a collaborative project with award winning photographer Michael Furman. The exhibit will run from July 8 thru September 30, and will feature over 20 automobiles that showcase the depth and range of the creative exchange in automotive design between Italy and America in the decade following the end of World War II.

The Simeone’s newest special exhibit, “Mopar or No Car,” runs through July 9.

Three new exhibits have opened at the AACA Museum. Garage Finds: Unrestored Treasure that Survived Time runs through October 8; Detroit Underdogs are on display through August 27; the 50th anniversary of Camaro and Firebird is featured through October 8.

The National Corvette Museum hosts  “Kentucky: 225 Years on the Move” opening August 28 and running through Spring 2018 to celebrate the anniversary of statehood.

The America on Wheels museum offers summer camps July 11-14, 25-28, and August 1-4 for children ages 6-12. During sessions, children will learn the practical applications behind how engines work, how cars are designed and built, and how automobiles shaped America.

A Murder Mystery & Dinner takes place on Sunday, July 23, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Seal Cove Auto Museum in Maine.

Pick of the Day: 1966 Ford Lotus Cortina

1966 Ford Lotus Cortina

1966 Ford Lotus Cortina

As a die-hard Ford fan, I consider myself to be pretty well-versed in Ford vehicles, especially those produced around the time the Mustang made its debut. But I’ll have to admit, I was not familiar with the Pick of the Day, a 1966 Ford Lotus Cortina MK1.

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Vintage racing: Museums sending cars to Goodwood festival

PT2_7279-X3The Goodwood Festival of Speed will feature “Perks of Performance – Motorsports game-changers” from June 29 through July 2 and among the cars to be featured is a 1950 BRM V16 Type 15 from the National Motor Museum of Britain. The landmark historic British racing car is going to the festival as part of a fund-raising effort so its supercharged engine can be rebuilt..

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Museums: McLaren featured at museums here and abroad

McLaren BMW F1 GTR | Louwman Museum
McLaren BMW F1 GTR | Louwman Museum

The Petersen Automotive Museum holds a movie night Saturday that will act as the exclusive L.A. premiere of McLaren, the movie that recounts Bruce McLaren’s life from his from humble beginnings at his father’s auto shop in Auckland, New Zealand, to revolutionizing Formula One racing, becoming the youngest driver to win a Grand Prix until his untimely death at 32 in a racing accident.

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Pick of the Day: 1969 Pontiac Firebird HO

1969 Pontiac Firebird
1969 Pontiac Firebird

When you think about muscle cars and pony cars of the late 1960s, a 1969 Pontiac Firebird such as the Pick of the Day is not always one of the first cars that comes to mind, despite sharing its F-body platform with the very-popular Camaro. Listed on, this particular Firebird embodies the swagger that makes cars of this era still relevant and sought after today.

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