Do you want to find a group or event to share you love of cars with other people? If you’re looking for car meetups, then a good starting point is to see what’s going on near you, and our guide can help you find the car events happening in your area.
But maybe there’s nothing happening near you, or perhaps there are a few things going on but you fancy running your own event so you can do it your way?
If you’re passionate about cars and know a few other people who are too, there’s no reason why you can’t turn this enthusiasm into something everyone can get involved in. Car meets give you the chance to chat with like-minded car lovers and showcase your pride and joy to people who are genuinely interested.
There are different kinds – you could arrange a regular meetup in a café for a chat and to compare vehicles, or you could actually set up a full car show as an annual event for visitors.
Who knows, with a little effort, your casual meet could grow into something bigger that the whole community can enjoy.
Tips from an Expert
Someone who knows a thing or two about setting up a car event is Chris Walker, organiser at Pendle Powerfest, one of Lancashire’s largest motor shows. Along with a group of fellow enthusiasts, Chris grew Pendle Powerfest from a small car meet to a major annual event. Now, it’s one of the biggest volunteer-run car shows in the northwest, showcasing 250+ vehicles to thousands of visitors.
Recently, we spoke to Chris about the ins and outs of setting up a car show, and with his help, have put together a guide on how to start your own. Use the links below to find the information you need or read on for the full guide.
- Where to Start When Organising a Car Meetup
- What Makes a Successful Car Event
- How to Spread the Word
- Getting the Right Permissions
- Facilities and Attractions
Where to Start When Organising a Car Meetup
Thinking about the kind of event you want and how you want to develop it before you start organising will make it more successful. Chris joined a group of fellow enthusiasts who saw a gap in the market for a family-friendly car show, and put in some careful planning before launching the event. Here, Chris shares his top tips on getting a new car event off the ground:
- Get organised – You need a group of people, preferably with some event experience, or at least some common sense. I say this as I have seen people try to do it almost on their own and it never ends well. Running events can be stressful – good planning can help minimise this.
- Join a group – Joining a local marshals club is a great way to learn about running a safe and successful public event. You can usually get some free training in event management, which is great at the organisation stage.
- Think carefully about the location – Where you stage your event will make or break its success. You need a venue with good access, plenty of space, clear in/out lanes and visible signage. If you plan to use grass, make sure you’re aware of how it behaves after persistent rain. Some sites stay pretty firm, but others can be horrific!
- Health and safety – One of the least exciting, but most important aspects of organising a car event is safety. You have to remember that if it’s your event, you (or your group) are ultimately responsible for people’s safety while they’re on site. And, if you plan to have any traders/caterers, make sure you’re aware (and they comply) with the requirements for health and safety, food hygiene, waste management and insurance.
What Makes a Successful Car Event
Knowing how the biggest and best car shows and meets operate, and what makes them successful, can help you nail the organisation and setup of your own event. Through trial, error and learning from what works and what doesn’t, Chris knows plenty about what goes into a successful motor show – and shares this knowledge below:
- Plenty of space for all exhibitors – It’s better to start on a site that’s slightly larger than you need, so there’s always room for more people to turn up and show-off their wheels.
- Minimal queuing to get in or out – Classic cars, in particular, don’t behave well in queues, so make sure there’s good access and well sign-posted in/out routes.
- Arrange reserved parking for different types of cars – As your event grows, it’s better to arrange reserve parking for different classes and types of cars. This will keep things organised and will be more interesting for visitors.
- Room for visitors to explore, without causing damage – Make sure cars are parked at a reasonable distance, so visitors can move about without damaging anything.
- A friendly and welcoming atmosphere – However big or small your car show ambitions, a friendly and inclusive welcome will go a long way.
How to Spread the Word
After all the effort you’ve gone to organising your car event, you’ll be keen to get people ‘through the door’, so to speak. Spreading the word and getting the message out about your event can seem daunting, but Chris offers this advice on how to get started with the process:
- Decide on exactly what kind of event and vehicles you want, and make sure this is clear in the advertising/branding. This will make it much easier to market yourself and find the right audience.
- Get a website. They’re great for publishing information as well as taking bookings, selling merchandise, etc. When people want to find out about your car meet, a website is the first thing they’ll look for – so make sure you have one in place, even if it’s very basic.
- Facebook is still the best way to spread the word. The event feature is great for picking up extra customers, plus it offers the opportunity to invite and share. Paid advertising on Facebook can also be cost-effective; just make sure you know how to use it before you get started.
- Try to find the local enthusiast groups and owners clubs and contact the admins to spread the word through them. In my experience, other local groups and businesses will be all too happy to help out, and may even wish to sponsor your event.
- Use Instagram, Twitter and YouTube to build your audience and share relatable content. The more you get yourself out there, the more people will start to take an interest and follow what you’re doing.
- Depending on the venue, they may also be able to help promote to their customers. You may also be able to put up a banner at or near the event, giving people an idea of the where and when.
Getting the Right Permissions
If you’re hosting a public event and serious about growing it into something bigger, you’ll save yourself trouble by thinking about the legal bits from the start. Getting the right permissions and staying within the law are key to your long-term success. Here, Chris gives his take on the legal side of hosting a local car show:
“You will need to make sure either you have public liability insurance, or the venue is happy for you to use theirs if required. It pays to make sure this is clear in advance of the event, as you don’t want to end up in unfortunate legal battles should something go awry.
“You will also have to complete a risk assessment. This shows you have considered everything, giving the venue peace of mind that you know how to deal with anything that does come up. It is also a requirement of your insurance; any traders/caterers will also be required to provide one.
“Thankfully, there are loads of resources available online on how to do this, so it isn’t as stressful as it sounds.
“Another good tip is to contact the local constabulary and get them onside, as they will be able to advise on other issues to be aware of. It also helps if they drop in at some point, so you can show that you’re doing things properly; this also discourages any silly behaviour from the exhibitors.”
Facilities and Attractions
Depending on how far you plan to go with your car meetup, adding facilities and attractions can make it more accessible to families and people from beyond the motoring community, and thus strengthen its appeal. From food stalls to music stages, there are lots of things you can add to grow your humble car meet into something bigger, and Chris touches on some of the things you can do to improve your event below:
- Toilets are a must, so either find a venue that has them or look to hire some. This can be expensive, so bear that in mind when you’re picking your location
- Depending on the length of your event, you can offer catering which can cover the cost of venue hire and other outlays. You would normally charge a pitch price, or work on a profit share basis.
- If you’re running a larger event than just a car meetup, you need to think about what your owners have to do during the show, so you can look at entertainment, music, competitions, etc. The sky’s the limit really, but most things come at a cost.
- Relevant traders are also popular. The best way to find them is to visit other local events and chat with the vendors if any catch your eye. There are a number of websites such as Add to Event and Stallfinder that can also help with this.
So, there you have it – a complete guide to setting up your own car meetup or motor show. We’d like to thank Chris for sharing his expertise, and hope his advice inspires you to take the next step towards getting started with your own car event. For more information on Chris and his work at the Pendle Powerfest, click here to visit the show’s Facebook page.
At Redex, we’re passionate about all things motoring and encourage you to head along and support car shows and events in your local area. To find out about our range of innovative fuel system additives and keep up-to-date with the latest motoring features, visit our homepage today.