A celebration of automotive artistry and achievement toured central Nebraska Saturday.
The Nebraska Rod and Custom Association’s Tour Nebraska event started in Hastings at 7 a.m. and drove through Grand Island at about 4:15 p.m.
The 28th annual parade of classic cars will cover 600 miles in two days.
Lin Hoskins, NRCA vice president, called it the group’s “biggest and best ever” showing.
This year, 468 classic, antique and special interest vehicles registered for the event.
“A lot of people were still wanting in, but that’s the most we can handle,” Hoskins said.
The parade stretched out for nearly 20 miles, and took more than 30 minutes to pass by.
“It’s a real sight to see when we go by,” Hoskins said. “People gather in their lawn chairs in front of their house or downtown, wherever we’re going to be. You’ll see farmers and groups in their pickup trucks, watching us go by from their fields and pastures.”
Leading the tour, Hoskins showed off his 1952 Chevrolet Boyertown tour wagon.
“It was one of the first motorhomes, and they’re very rare,” he said. “We put it on a modern chassis with modern engine and brakes, and all the comforts of home. The body was in such good shape we left the patina on the outside. The inside is totally restored.”
NCRA runs a different route every year. The tour route this year included 25 towns and villages in the Grand Island area.
“We try to cover some unique spots, places where some people have never seen before. This year we’re actually dropping into Kansas for a short period,” Hoskins said.
NCRA has 1,800 members who live in all parts of the state, he said.
More than an opportunity to display their classic autos, the event is a chance for friends with a shared passion to get together.
Drivers on Saturday were greeted with clear skies and 90-degree weather.
Despite two years of planning, NCRA still encountered some obstacles.
“We had a plan. We had everything set up. It was going to be great. Things change in a year’s time,” Hoskins said. “Some of the places we were going to serve our catered lunch, that was already reserved for a wedding, so we turned our Saturday route around backwards.”
The yearly event also offers an economic benefit, he said.
The cars, many of which carry more than one person, bring nearly 1,200 people into the area for the weekend.
“We’ll probably drop a couple of hundred thousand dollars in Hastings, or whichever town we use for our starting location,” Hoskins said.
NCRA has launched tours from Grand Island, Lincoln, York, North Platte and Kearney.
“We have to be in a town that has enough hotels to accommodate that many people,” he said. “It used to be if we had 200 or 250 cars we were really happy, but we’ve grown to a much bigger event.”
The NCRA’s goal is to protect the rights of special-interest-vehicle owners who enjoy driving their vehicles on the streets and highways of Nebraska.
Hoskins described the yearly parade as “a goodwill tour.”
“It’s very rewarding for us because of all the people who show up and how they enjoy it,” he said. “A lot of people come from different ends of the state, or even Kansas and other states, and the camaraderie is really great.”
The tour continues today. For a tour map and complete, printable list of times the tour will be visiting each Nebraska community, visit nrca.wildapricot.org.