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Hot wheels, cool engines

“Carizzma” is a 2005 Chevy Silverado.
“Carizzma” is a 2005 Chevy Silverado.

Everywhere Albuquerque’s Patrick Wightman drives his flaming orange sherbet-colored ’55 Chevy delivery sedan, he and his car get noticed.

“Everywhere I travel, someone will come up to me and tell me that it looks so much nicer than when they saw it in a magazine,” says Wightman, a dedicated member of the Albuquerque Classic Chevy Club. “It’s my pride and joy.”

The car, originally $1,900, which has a six-cylinder engine with a standard three-gear shift on the steering column, has come a long way in its 57 years. Wightman lovingly restored it over a year’s time “with the help of all my friends.”

2013 Supernationals Custom Auto Show

WHEN: Noon-9 p.m. today, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 2 and 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 3
WHERE: Expo New Mexico, Lujan Complex, 300 San Pedro NE
HOW MUCH: At the event, adults, $13.50; kids younger than 12, $4.
Free kids’ tickets, good with a paying adult, at Albuquerque area McDonalds. Also, discounted advance tickets, $11, available at Napa Auto Parts Stores in Albuquerque, Belen, Los Lunas and Santa Fe.
Visit www.thesupernationals.com for more information

It has a V-8 cylinder Corvette engine and an independent rear suspension. Five gallons of paint gave the car its Dreamsicle appearance and local legendary painter Bobbo Dunn, who was a nationally recognized master in the art of automotive airbrush painting and pin-striping, gave it its flames, Wightman explains.

The Chevrolet – and more than 200 custom vehicles – will be on display this weekend as part of the 22nd Annual Supernationals Custom Auto Show at Expo New Mexico.

Organizer Reggie Tibbetts, who creates the family-friendly event with his wife, Margret, and Matt and Annette Torres in their joint enterprise, TNT Productions, says they plan enough automotive artistry and muscle to make car buffs out of almost anyone.

“We have the cars that people see on the front covers of all the automotive magazines,” Tibbetts explains. “We see people come to the show one year and the next year they are back showing a car.”

This year’s show has custom cars, street rods, motorcycles, performance cars and trucks, 4X4s and restored muscle cars from 11 states, Tibbetts says.

The show is juried much like an art show, with points given on each entry for the car, the paint, the engine and the interior. Each of the four categories has 25 possible points for a total of 100 points possible. Vehicles compete for $10,000 in prizes and bragging rights, he says.

Tibbetts says the judges hate to turn anyone away, but once they have secured the top cars in each class, others aren’t allowed.

“Many of the cars we had to turn down are very nice cars,” he says, speaking from a California car show where he was scouting possible entries for next year’s show. “We pride ourselves on having a national, regional and local showcase.”

He encourages visitors to look closely and see if they agree with the judges.

One national car, a sleek, high-powered violet sensation called, “Scythe,” started as a Mustang, says information from its creator Galpin Auto Sports of Van Nuys, Calif.

It’s called the most customized car of its time by auto enthusiasts, Tibbetts says. It has a redesigned body with triple headlights and a twin-turbo Shelby engine. The interior has voice command for almost everything and doors that open like wings.

Another head-turner is “Speed Demon,” a custom desert racer with a Chevy engine. The George Poteet and Ron Main streamliner – with Poteet at the wheel – has set land speed records in excess of 440 miles an hour.

Local champion auto racer Al Unser Sr., says he and his son, Al Unser Jr., will be there with the most recent 1994 winning Indianapolis 500 car of Al Unser Jr. to support the event.

“This is a beautiful show with big, beautiful cars. I hope everyone comes,” he says. “We hope enthusiasts come to our museum, but whether they do or not, this show is important. Come and see. We hope that what we’ve done has made racing bigger and better.”

Beyond the auto show, there is more to do.

The Brush Bash features automotive artists whose on-site paintings will be auctioned off to support the event’s charity, The Ronald McDonald House. Each year’s show brings it about $8,000 to $10,000, Tibbetts says.

The Ronald McDonald House also sponsors a Hot Wheels Race for children during the three-day event.

  • "Scythe," one of more than 200 vehicles being featured at the Supernationals Custom Auto Show this weekend, started out as a Mustang.

  • “Roadliner” is a 1955 Cadillac.

  • “Carizzma” is a 2005 Chevy Silverado.

  • Pat Wightman's 1955 Chevy turns heads wherever it travels.

  • This 1937 Ford Roadster will be on display at the Supernationals.

  • “Speed Demon” is a custom desert racer that has reached speeds in excess of 400 mph.

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