For the past couple of years, Mid America Motorworks, of Effingham, Illinois, has sponsored a contest that awards prizes for the “Best Corvette Garage or Theme Room.” Mid America sells parts and accessories for Corvettes and air-cooled Volkswagens and discovered that many of its products were being used — especially by Corvette lovers — to decorate their garages or homes.
Holding a contest to recognize the best garages and theme rooms was a natural for this company and we also think that it’s a good inspiration for car clubs all over the country who might want to sponsor similar contests in their own areas. After all, “garage tours” — in which club members visit other member’s collections — have long been a popular car club activity. However, clubs can only visit a limited number of member’s garages per year. So, why not have a contest that allows all club members with nicely-decorated garages to show them to other members in photographs?
The best way to organize such a contest is to follow the Mid America Motorworks’ model. To enter the Mid America Motorworks competition, participants submit 8 x 10 prints or digital images of their automotive-themed garage or room. Entries must be received by a set date (September 12, 2008 in the case of Mid America’s next contest).
It’s important to note that entrants do not have to be Mid America Motorworks customers to participate in the contest and car clubs should follow this rule. Open your contest to every car buff in town. That way, the local newspaper will be happy to publicize it and you may pick up a couple of new members in the long run.
As far as picking winners, Mid America Motorworks has found that a “people’s choice” system works best since it lessons the possibility of favoritism. In Mid America Motorwork’s contest, the winners are selected at the Corvette Funfest, where a display featuring the photos of each participant’s Corvette garage or Corvette-themed room is set up in a “Best Garage Award” tent. This allows all contestants to have the pleasure of seeing their photos displayed, even if they don’t get picked as a winner.
People who have cars entered in the Corvette Funfest receive a ballot in their registration packet so they can vote to pick the winners of the “Best Garage” contest. The votes are tallied on site and the winners are announced on Sunday of the show weekend. Winners receive a Mid America Motorworks gift certificate and a goodie bucket filled with great prizes for Corvette enthusiasts.
Car clubs can follow the same system by conducting voting for a “Best Garage” award during their annual car show. Prizes can be solicited from local businesses that sell auto-related products and services or from national companies that serve the old-car hobby. Believe me, the size or number of prizes doesn’t count as much as giving people recognition for the hard work they did building and decorating their garages or theme rooms.
On the other side of the coin, in addition to picking their favorite entry, the “voting public” gets to pick up a couple of creative ideas while viewing all of the submitted photos. The great thing about many of the featured garages is that they were put together by average car enthusiasts. Many of the products and techniques they showcase are both practical and affordable.
In Mid America’s 2007 contest, Michael Manderino captured first place with a neat, but memorabilia-packed garage that houses four late-model ‘Vettes, one stored on a raised 4-post lift. Mike’s garage is complete with a “racing flag” floor, a restored vintage gas pump, several tool chests, a Callaway banner and thousands of other Corvette items stored on shelves and hung on the walls.
Second-prize winners were Dan and Karen Lucovich, who store their single Corvette in a garage dominated by blue cabinets and a “racing flags” motif. Third place went to Tom Heely and his stark-looking one-car garage with decorative posters and, naturally, a black-and-white checkered floor.
If you need any expert advice to help your club organize a “Best Garage” contest, you should contact Cheryl Habing, the public relations director, at Mid America Motorworks “Garage Contest,” #1 Mid America Place, P.O. Box 1368, Effingham, IL 62401. Or visit the company’s Website www.mamotorworks.com , which has links to both the 2006 and 2007 “Best Garage” award winners.