Classic cars, rock combining for thrills again

The organizers of an annual extravaganza of cars and classic rock drive straight toward tradition when it comes to planning the event that attracts about 8,000 people.

Rich Anthony explains it simply.

“I don’t want to mess with success,” said Anthony, brand manager for the coordinating 106.1 The River classic rock radio station in Columbus. “We keep bringing back the same band. And the crowd keeps loving it.”

The band Rick K. & the Allnighters will make what organizers figure is the 17th straight appearance at the free Hot Rods and Rock & Roll from 3 to 9 p.m. Sept. 16 on Washington Street downtown between Fourth and Eighth streets.

“These kinds of shows can be a big bonus,” lead singer Rick Kay told The Republic a few years ago. “We not only get to play great music, but we also get to see some really nice hot rods.”

Understandable perspective from a guy who once drove a restored 1965 Ford Galaxy convertible.

Last year marked the first time in years that rain dampened the turnout, pouring a bit before the gathering began but then remaining dry afterward. Anthony estimates that the inclement weather preview cut the crowd in half, and limited the classic cars to perhaps half as well at about 200 vehicles parked along the street.

But who can possibly complain about a crowd of even 4,000 people stretched over a few hours?

“I don’t think we can get any bigger than our 8,000 or 9,000 (previously) people,” Anthony said. “But we do try to get better every year.”

Besides the high-energy concert that begins at 7 p.m., area car clubs’ classics and other motorized entries serve as a considerable attraction among gearheads and others. The local Hoosier Mustang Club takes a shine to all the vehicles, certainly.

“But we also see it as a good time to possibly recruit new members,” said club president Joyce Artis.

Plus, those with an appetite for more than hot wheels can find plenty of hot eats from barbecue to burgers to chicken.

“We always tell the vendors, ‘Bring more food than you ever will think you’ll need,’” Anthony said. “Those first few years, we had some people sell out.”

If you go

What: 21st Annual Hot Rods and Rock & Roll, presented by 106.1 The River classic radio station.

When: 3 to 9 p.m. Sept. 16. Car show begins at 3. Concert with classic hits cover band Rick K. & the Allnighters runs from 7 to 9.

Where: Fourth and Washington streets in downtown Columbus.

Admission: Free.

Food: Barbecue, burgers, chicken and other items along with drinks via event vendors plus the regular fare from surrounding downtown restaurants welcoming the crowd.


Author photo
Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at or 812-379-5672.