All of that seemed to cloud the shows’ future.
But Toundas said Championship has recovered from each setback and is slowly growing again, with revenue increasing 3 percent to 4 percent a year.
Even better, Toundas said, Championship Auto Shows plans to expand its schedule.
In the short term, the company wants to add three or four shows, he said.
“We want to expand to 20 to 25 shows a year ultimately,” he said.
Although he won’t disclose annual revenue or profit, Toundas said Championship makes money.
“The only thing I can tell you is we have close to 30 full-time employees, and we work out of a 50,000-square-foot building,” Toundas said.
Some of the renewal also stems from a growing number of 20- and 30-somethings who are discovering hot-rodding and bringing new blood to a 70-year-old pastime.
In addition, the shows have broadened their formats, adding unusual entertainment like a “Bigfoot” monster-truck car crush; a “street-bike stunt show”; and appearances and autograph signings by cable-television entertainers.
“That’s how you start to reinvent yourself,” Toundas said. “You try to attract more people _ some of them non-car people _ and you broaden your base.”
Old-school car shows are still a major part of the huge specialty-car and aftermarket-parts business.
People see wild, heavily modified vehicles at the shows and start thinking about what they could do to their own cars.
“In any kind of sales, you’ve got to have excitement if you’re going to get any business,” said MacGillivray. “Car shows get people excited.”
Gene Mullenberg of the Lone Star Cougar Club says AutoRama attracts more young participants than any other show the club attends, which is important in looking for new members.
“It’s been good for us,” said Mullenberg, whose Texas club helps get cars moved in and handles other show chores.