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The world is an ever-changing place, and it seems the car hobby is not immune — no matter how much we want to keep the glory days. Despite being a top-class facility when it opened in 1986, it appears the Memphis International Raceway (formerly Memphis Motorsports Park) is in the jowls of the wolves at the door with a rumored closing at the end of May to make way for warehouses. Unfortunately, it will take with it a mainstay on many people’s calendars — the Memphis Chevy Show (formerly Super Chevy Show).
The Memphis Super Chevy Show was arguably the largest of the fabled events across the country. Featuring drag racing, a huge car show, massive vendor support, and a sprawling swap meet, participants and spectators from states away marked it as a can’t-miss event. However, with the sale of The Enthusiast Network(TEN) to the Discovery Channel in 2017 bringing about the demise of multiple print magazines, including Super Chevy, what was once known as the Super Chevy Show was renamed the Memphis Chevy Show in 2021. The name change and a Covid-induced September postponement created confusion among the die-hard participants. Mother Nature didn’t help either with freezing temperatures, and the show was poorly attended, but there was hope for a return to normalcy in the future.
George Poteet brought out his Rad Rods by Troy-built Bel Air wagon. It’s packing an LSX 376 with a hairdryer. That should get you to the grocery store in a hurry!
However, hope was fleeting as rumors of the sale of MIR started to fly earlier this year. It became apparent that April 22-24, 2022, likely marked the date of the 35th Annual — and final — Memphis Chevy Show. With no local management in charge, it was nearly impossible to find information or gauge participation leading up to the event. However, with a perfect weather forecast and the overwhelming feeling that this would be the swan song, participants and spectators alike showed up to pay their final respects to the premier all-Chevy event in the region (maybe even the country).
Despite the run-down facility, lack of management, and dismal vendor support, all attendees were determined to have a good time. Drag racers from far and wide started arriving as early as Wednesday, eventually filling overflow parking lots by Friday morning. Meanwhile, car show vehicles began lining up at 7:00 am, and many later arrivals waited in line for more than 30 minutes to register at the gate. It was clear that it would be a packed house on Saturday.
Big-body cars are finally getting some love for restoration and modification. This ‘66 Impala SS had a 427 under the hood. The Schott wheels with redline tires really set it apart!
Unfortunately, many racers and fans would be disappointed as the track kept weeping water from torrential rains earlier in the week. As a result, no one made a pass until qualifying started a day late on Saturday. The pro cars made a couple of runs during the day, while some classes didn’t get a single pass. Adding to fans' dismay, the eagerly awaited and as-advertised jet cars were a no-show with no warning or explanation from the event organizers. As the sun began to drop, the track humidity returned. After a few sketchy passes and a crash, racing was called off for the night. All the pro cars were gone by morning, but bracket racing continued throughout Sunday.
Being virtually overwhelmed with vehicles, the car show area was a much better affair. Luckily, someone had the foresight to park the cars closer than would typically be the case. Cars were parked according to model type, with the most significant representation being Camaros and Novas. Surprisingly, there were very few Tri-Five Chevys after multiple years with more than 40 in attendance. Trucks have been hot for quite a while now, and a plethora of ‘40s and ‘50s, C10s, and Suburbans populated those rows. Corvettes always have a healthy turnout, and this year was no exception. Spectators meandered through the rows of gleaming chrome to get a closer look at their favorites throughout the weekend.
Leslie Moore brought this sweet 1964 Suburban down from Bernie, Missouri. Reportedly a SEMA build, it featured all the goodies, including a Holley Hi-Ram EFI, Baer Brakes, and a turbo.
Over on the far side of the track, the swap meet was in full effect on Saturday. Traditionally, vendors started lining up on Thursday to compete for the best spots. Though this year seemed a little more subdued, many people selling off their old parts still did a brisk business. Also doing a brisk business were the limited food vendors on both sides of the track. Lines were commonly 100 people long the majority of the day.
As many Chevy fans gathered for what was undoubtedly the final time, they reminisced on 35 years of what was once an excellent racing facility. Though there is no official word on the closing of Memphis International Raceway, the writing is on the wall unless a generous donor can make an 11th-hour passionate plea to save it from demolition. The final Memphis Chevy Show was obviously done on a limited budget compared to the Super Chevy heydays. More people would’ve been discouraged if it was not perceived as the last show. However, most were just happy to see friends they may only see once a year and to give the show one last send-off in style.
Larry Styers of Cordova, Tennessee, recently finished this clean little ‘66 Chevy II sporting Rallye-style wheels. The hood was grafted together with a Chevelle hood to give it a different look, and it works perfectly!
Speaking of Chevy IIs, there were many of them at this year’s event. This one was killer sporting a hopped-up six-banger with the dog dish hubcaps.
There were also plenty of little red Corvettes on display, but this one caught everyone’s attention with a 427 under the hood!
This guy knows how to make a VW Beetle fast — throw a small-block Chevy in it and turn it into a Funny Car!
Here is the king of the hill. David Fulcher’s 1956 Suburban is about as sexy as they come. All of the trim is painted on, but you’d have to look very close to notice. It won Best of Show.
The Rhyne family from Marion, Arkansas, has steadily worked on this ‘60 El Camino. It is now LS-powered with a killer stance and sporting US Mags wheels. All that is left to do is the headliner!
Here is one for the “now for something completely different” department. When you absolutely, positively have to get the kids to school on time, you take this bus from Heber Springs, Arkansas.