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Contacting L.T. Performance

Why Car Shows Fail

Judging is probably the most important factor in whether a show succeeds or fails.  The participants, even those who don't care about trophies, want to see that the show is done fairly.  Judges are that deciding factor.

Keep in mind that there are essentially three types of judging for car shows; judged, participant judged, and spectator judged.  Even though the participant and spectator "judged" should actually be called "voted", this section is primarily devoted to actual judges.

Let's face it, if participants see that a show was judged with favoritism and partiality, even once, they may not come back.  No, let me change that, they won't come back.  When the number of participants start dropping off because of judging, the show is finished.  As we know, participants talk, and once that word gets out you can't change it back.

Like the criminal justice system, car show judges need 'integrity'.  If you go to court for a speeding ticket, all you want is a fair trial.  You want the judge to hear your case and base his decision on not just whether you broke the law, but hand down a penalty that is fair and consistant.  In a car show, you want the judges to be fair and consistant also.  And as you see from show to show, consistancy is a major issue.  Such an issue that the number of participants that enter their cars in shows and request not to be judged is rising rapidly.  My hat goes off to these folks!  These are the ones showing cars is all about!

Selecting Judges

For reasons listed throughout this section, judges should be independant from the group hosting the show.  And there should be more than one judge.  Preferably, there should be a team of judges that can discuss the vehicles.  This acts as a 'checks and balances' and has the tendancy to keep things honest.  Twelve always seems to be a good number for the average show.  If there are classes, there should be at least three judges per class.

Shows that have a dozen classes and a dozen judges, having one judge for each class are doomed from the start.  The only time there should only be one judge is for awards like the Mayor's Choice, Chairman's Choice, Show Queen's Choice, or certain sponsor's choice awards.  Any class awards should be decided with a minimum of 3 judges.

One of the best ways of keeping a show honest is to keep the identities of the judges a secret.  In some cases it is even good for the judges not to know who the other judges are.  It stops the 'deals' from being made.  "I'll vote for that one if you vote for this one."  On the other hand, shows where the judges should interact, such as those with multiple classes where judges may need to talk details over with more experienced judges, this may not be the best option.  But, at the same time, it doesn't mean all of the participants should know who the judges are.

One question that often comes up is whether a participant should be a judge.  As long as they don't vote for their own car there shouldn't be an issue.  In shows with multiple categories or classes, all efforts should be made to prevent judges from voting on the class in which their vehicle has been entered.  However, in shows where there are no specific classes, and there are several judges voting on cars, there should be no issue selecting judges from the participants.

If a particular car club is heavily involved in the show as either a sponsor or a host, efforts should be made to keep from having all of the judges from that club's membership.  Some clubs are just so big this can be a real problem.  For example, if a club is the host club for a show, and there are going to be other clubs in attendance, include judges from those other clubs as well.  If a club sponsors or hosts a show and finding independant judges is a problem, one option is to have the club member's vehicles separated from the other participants and have them judged by the spectators. 

If a show is being held for a particular charity, it might be a good idea to have a represntative from that charity as a judge.  Then again, having an award presented by that charity looks good.  

Requirements for Judges

Trying to find certifications for judges is like finding a certifications for lawn care services.  Most judged shows have no qualifications for their judges.  Most of the time the judges are the folks putting the show on.  In most cases, that's fine because they want the show to succeed.  That is if they are smart enough to understand this section.  There are some judges that just don't care whether the show succeeds or not.  They may not care if they ever have another show.  And then there are those shows that are "one-time events";  "Make a quick buck" shows.  For those, it doesn't matter what kind of judge the show has.

Judges usually get their experience from doing shows and developing some type of reputation for being an 'expert'.  This is one reason shows that use a combination of judges and/or spectator and/or participant input are very popular.  But they are also hard to coordinate.

Judges that really care about doing a show correctly rely on watching and listening to the spectators.  After all, that's for whom the show is really held.  Shows that only attract participants really aren't shows at all.  Cars and trucks that attract more attention than others; spectators talking about what they like or dislike; spectators taking photographs or certain vehicles; and of course, spectators having their picture taken with a certain car, should all be taken into consideration by judges.

Some judges may simply pick the cars they like.  Others actually score the vehicles, taking the time to look at the paint, interior, customization, or how close to original the car or truck is.  There are any number of specifications a judge may examine.  This is why shows with multiple categories or classes are good and very popular.  But those shows need judges that know the classes and the cars entered in those classes.  I actually participated in a show where the Best Mopar award went to a Lamborghini. If you don't think that raised a few eyebrows as well as questions.  At the next show that group held they made a big point of emphasizing that they had made a mistake and given that award to a real Mopar.  Too late, the damage was done.

Sadly there are shows where the judges are instructed or influenced on who gets awards.  The one thing I have learned about shows held by certain social groups is that the members of that group are the ones who win the awards.  Politics also come into play with many shows where sponsors of the show or big contributors to the organization holding the show win the awards.  There are shows where participants can't help leaving feeling like, "Why didn't they just give the awards out at the beginning of the show?  They knew who was going to win ahead of time."

More for Judges on the next page

Advice to Judges

"It Doesn't Matter if You Win or Lose, It's How the Show Was Played."