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Dec. 31, 2004

Bringing cars, fun and fame under one roof

by Varun Gulati, Page Editor
A deep, gold-colored Lamborghini Gallardo stands in the main foyer, reflecting bits of light off its shiny hood. The exotic car rests in the center of a crowd, yet is isolated by a ribbon a few feet around its perimeter as if to say, "Touch Me Not." Though the Gallardo is hands-off, the 2005 Washington Auto Show, organized by the Washington Area New Automobile Dealers Association, brings a variety of accessible American, European and Asian cars, as well as a few celebrities and entertainers, to create an enjoyable and overall glamorous auto show.

The 63rd annual auto show held at the enormous Washington Convention Center reserves 725,000 square feet of exhibit space on only two levels. In 1921, the first show was organized with the intention of introducing the public to the idea of the horseless carriage. Now, it features over 700 automobiles from over 37 manufacturers.

Chip Ganassi's Target Indy Racing League car is displayed for all to see at the Washington Auto Show. <A HREF="/pop.php?gr=/gr/dec2004/Target_enlarged.jpg" TARGET="_blank">Click here to enlarge.</A>
<br><br>
<a href="/gallery.php?gid=1">Click here</a> for a photo gallery from the show.<br> Varun Gulati
Chip Ganassi's Target Indy Racing League car is displayed for all to see at the Washington Auto Show. Click here to enlarge.

Click here for a photo gallery from the show.
At the auto show, the main entrance and foyer lead directly to two escalators and a grand staircase, where a Christmas tree on the landing increases visitors' anticipation to take a peek upstairs. Upstairs, people may get a chance to see Rock-it before entering the main gala; he won't be hard to miss he's a fairly tall techno robot. "OK, lady. I'm nine feet tall," he says apathetically to a woman next to me who's taking a picture.

Plenty of other cartoon and sports mascots (and another robot, Sprockit) will roam around the auto show to pose for pictures. Sprockit may be hard to see, though, since it's not nearly as tall or obnoxious as its robot counterpart. However, if visitors are lucky, they may encounter Shrek (without his donkey pal, for once), the gingerbread man or Ringo, a friendly polar bear.

Let the show begin

Dodge reserves an exhibit for its Tomahawk, a Viper-powered motorcycle that runs on four wheels instead of two. The motorcycle is freestanding and appears to be a chunk of metal with two sets of wheels stuck on either end. In reality, however, it is a superpower motorcycle with a 20-valve, V-10 engine.

Four cars rest at Toyota's "Hands-On" contest, where participants must be the last person in contact with the car of their choice to win the vehicle. Though they are allowed a 15-minute break every three hours, the contestants may not read, listen to music, play games or do any other time-occupying activity except eat, sleep and drink. The contest started with 19 contestants and will end this Sunday to determine who wins the cars.

Across from the Hands-On contest is an area designated for XM Satellite Radio, where anyone may stop by at an available stand and choose a song of their liking. Meanwhile, different bands and artists, such as Visions of Jazz, Mike Holden and Lea, perform live on stage for anybody willing to listen.
Chip Ganassi's Target Indy Racing League car is displayed for all to see at the Washington Auto Show. <A HREF="/pop.php?gr=/gr/dec2004/Target_enlarged.jpg" TARGET="_blank">Click here to enlarge.</A>
<br><br>
<a href="/gallery.php?gid=1">Click here</a> for a photo gallery from the show.<br> Varun Gulati
Chip Ganassi's Target Indy Racing League car is displayed for all to see at the Washington Auto Show. Click here to enlarge.

Click here for a photo gallery from the show.

Nearby, the Cadillac Sixteen receives enough stares and attention at the auto show to inspire awe in almost any passerby. The auto show houses one of only two models that exist today. The car claims to have "luxurious interior amenities," including crystal gauge dials and hand-woven silk carpets but also boasts a 1000-horsepower engine. The elegantly black car, with its angled hood and strip headlights, seems as if it was inspired more by the Batmobile than by Cadillac designers.

The main events

In the upper level show, a small booth across the Nissan and Toyota exhibits is set up for celebrity appearances. Over here, I meet up with Brooks Robinson, 1983 Baseball Hall-of-Famer for the Baltimore Orioles, who joyously autographs a picture of himself. A similar booth is set up downstairs near the Volvo exhibit. There, I see John Force, 12-time National Hot Rod Association champion, who seems enthused about his autograph signing but quite clueless about his location. "What city we in?" he asks, turning to a guy sitting next to him. "Cincinnati?"

The star of the lower level is, without a doubt, the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren. A similar model of the car garnered $2.1 million in a charity auction in New York. In this auto show, it rests on a wide, rotating platform with one of its scissor doors open for others to marvel at its interior. The sleek, aerodynamically designed race car delivers 615-horsepower from its top-of-the-line engine and is valued at $452,500. Rick Oxendine, a Mercedes-Benz car salesman of Silver Spring, described the car in one word: "badass."
Chip Ganassi's Target Indy Racing League car is displayed for all to see at the Washington Auto Show. <A HREF="/pop.php?gr=/gr/dec2004/Target_enlarged.jpg" TARGET="_blank">Click here to enlarge.</A>
<br><br>
<a href="/gallery.php?gid=1">Click here</a> for a photo gallery from the show.<br> Varun Gulati
Chip Ganassi's Target Indy Racing League car is displayed for all to see at the Washington Auto Show. Click here to enlarge.

Click here for a photo gallery from the show.

At 1:00, 3:00 and 6:00 p.m., Maximum Velocity, an extreme sports stunt team, shows their moves on BMX, in-line and skateboard. The crew performs on a 13-foot mini-ramp and executes a few feats such as front flips in midair, tail whips and 540s.

Jeep showcases its concept car, the Treo, designed by drive-by-wire technology. The vehicle looks more like a space vehicle with its seven-slot grille front (which resembles the rear of car) and its bulging headlamps (which seem more like bug eyes). However, Treo promises zero-emission, fuel-cell technology that drives electric motors at each wheel.

For children, a Kids Playland is provided as well as a small racing area (for kids of all ages). A small fee of $4 allows a contestant to race a foot-long car 12 laps amidst other cars. The winner gets the much-coveted prize: a free race.

For more information, visit the Washington Auto Show web site. The show will be held at the Washington Convention Center from Dec. 30 to Jan. 2.



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  • girl on January 2, 2005 at 2:11 PM
    not too interested in cars, but still, awesome job varun!!! =)
  • sam silsbee on January 2, 2005 at 3:33 PM
    the sixteen was so cool!
  • junior on January 3, 2005 at 4:11 PM
    great article and awesome pictures, Varun!
  • Medicin Man on January 3, 2005 at 4:46 PM
    the sixteen was the hottest ride i've ever seen...the grill went on for miles and 1000 horsepower is just insane
  • p*i*m*p on January 3, 2005 at 6:25 PM
    any one who thinks the tomahawk is pimp shout
  • excellent on January 4, 2005 at 11:06 AM
    awesome article!!!
  • guy the master swordsman on January 5, 2005 at 10:32 AM
    those were som nice cars in that article and at the show why did i not see the mb slr
  • p.i.m.P on January 5, 2005 at 4:41 PM
    Indeed, the Tomahawk was very pimp. But its also probably the fastest way to die.
    I mean, youre basically strapped to a 300 mph missile.

    Motorcycle? Or engine with wheels?
  • ANGRY SENIOR on January 6, 2005 at 12:11 PM
    THAT IS A VERY COOL ROBOT IN THAT PICTURE SIR, I THANK YOU FOR TAKING IT AND NOT GIVING THE LIFE AQUATIC A BAD REVIEW
  • Car Luvr on January 7, 2005 at 10:11 AM
    WHERES THE MCLAREN??????
    HOW DO U DO AN ARTICLE ON THE SHOW WITHOUT SHOWING THE MCLAREN?!?!?!?

    btw...the TOMAHAWK is sooo sweet...and 300 mph is only the ESTIMATED high...

    And for those of u who liked the robot, my and my friends (by coincidence all have mustangs and luv cars) were freaked out by that stupid robot...It was loud and tacky!
  • Harley Santonie (View Email) on January 7, 2005 at 10:16 AM
    I<3 this site
  • Noel Ibrahim (View Email) on January 10, 2005 at 7:36 AM
    I loved how there was an entire section for classic Mustangs. I got to chat with a guy with a 60's Mach 1 for a while, he was really nice. I stood in line to sit in one of the Corvettes...everyone in front of me was wayyy too big for it, their heads stuck out the top...I couldnt reach the pedal, hehe.
  • X7 on January 12, 2005 at 7:50 PM
    You should check out HIN City.
  • ANGRY JUNIOR on January 14, 2005 at 10:43 PM
    THAT IS AN AWSOME ROBOT!!!!
  • ABDUL MOZID (View Email) on June 20, 2005 at 6:36 AM
    send some cars with light under the cars websites
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