‘The basement is the place to be’

Autorama will roar into Cobo Center

By: Terry Oparka, Cari DeLamielleure-Scott | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published February 18, 2016


METRO DETROIT/WEST BLOOMFIELD — West Bloomfield resident Larry Filipczak is well-immersed in the automotive world.

An automotive engineer for General Motors Co. by day, Filipczak dedicates his free time to traditional hot rods.

Filipczak has been attending Detroit’s Autorama since he was a kid in the 1970s, and what he enjoys most about the event is the community friendships that have been built over the years, he said.

“You go to see your friends; you go to see ... people you haven’t seen in sometimes a year,” Filipczak said.

Filipczak is part of the Singlefinger Speed Shop  —  a group of engineers, hot rodders and gearheads who are passionate about all things mechanical — and since 2009, he and other club members have been showcasing cars at Autorama.

“Basically, we’re all like-minded enthusiasts. We all have fun; we all enjoy going to cruises and getting out and doing stuff with the cars,” Filipczak said. “It’s kind of like a band of misfit brothers.”

The Singlefinger Speed Shop showcases different cars at Autorama every year because the event has a rule that the same car cannot be shown unless modifications have been made, he said. This year, the club will set up nine cars in “the basement” — as the enthusiasts call it — which is also known as Autorama Extreme.

Autorama Extreme features traditional hot rods and is where members of the hobby hang out, Autorama spokeswoman Linda Ashley said in an email.

“The basement is the place to be,” Filipczak said, explaining that the area has “more hooligans” and an old-school vibe.

Filipczak will showcase his 1932 Ford hot rod. After World War II, hot rodders would build stripped-down cars out of items found in junkyards, Filipczak said. Then they would race them in dry lakes and the Bonneville Salt Flats in Tooele County, Utah.

Filipczak said his 1932 Ford is an A-V8 roadster — which is a Model A body on a 1932 V8 chassis — that has been put together with parts from the era.

“We have history of the original car back to 1953 on a dirt drag strip in Colorado Springs,” Filipczak said. “As with a lot of things, cars evolve with the years. It’s just the latest incarnation of that car.”

The 64th Meguiar’s Detroit Autorama will be held at Cobo Center in Detroit Feb. 26-28. Over 800 hot rods, custom cars, trucks and motorcycles from across the country will be on display.

The first Detroit Autorama took place at the University of Detroit Field House as a fundraiser for the Michigan Hot Rod Association’s efforts to build the Detroit Dragway. Over the years, it moved to the Michigan State Fairgrounds and the Detroit Artillery Armory before coming to Cobo Center as its first paid public show in 1961.

“We are delighted to bring live music back to the main stage at Autorama with Danny ‘The Count’ Koker. This is a unique opportunity to combine the world of rock and roll and car culture via one of the most popular car culture TV stars. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime Autorama experience,” Peter A. Toundas, president of Championship Auto Shows and show manager, said in a prepared statement. “We are always striving to bring new excitement to Autorama along with the most spectacular showing of performance cars anywhere in the country. We know our show-goers will love this year’s amazing Autorama.”

Autorama will start with a live burnout and wheel stand demonstration by vehicles from Discovery Channel’s “Street Outlaws” at 11:45 a.m. Friday, Feb. 26, at the corner of Washington Boulevard and Jefferson Avenue, in front of Cobo Center.

A highlight of the show is the presentation of the Ridler Award, given to the most outstanding new custom car shown for the first time anywhere.

The award was named after Don Ridler, the first promoter of the show.

The Motor City Mavens 2016 Auto Art Panel Jam and Charity Auction benefiting Leader Dogs for the Blind will be presented by WRIF Radio. More than 200 pinstripers from across the country will be in Detroit during all three days of Autorama to apply their artistry to items of every type. They will demonstrate for the crowds and auction the items throughout the event, with all proceeds going to Leader Dogs for the Blind.

These special guests will meet and greet visitors and sign autographs:

• Farmtruck and AZN, from Discovery Channel’s “Street Outlaws,” noon-5 p.m. Feb. 26.

• Olivia Holt, Lindsay Watson from Disney’s TV show “I Didn’t Do It,” 1-3 p.m. and 4-6 p.m. Feb. 27.

• Horny Mike, from History Channel’s “Counting Cars” TV show, 1-4 p.m. Feb. 28.

• Daniel Bryan, of World Wrestling Entertainment, 1-4 p.m. Feb. 28.

Ashley said cars are being shipped in from as far as Australia to compete.

“I don’t believe we’ve ever had a car from Australia,” she said.

She added that some cars are coming from California and Europe.

“One of the things that’s very different is that we are having a rock concert, the first time it’s happened in dozens of years,” Ashley said.

Autorama will be held noon-10 p.m. Feb. 26, 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Feb. 27, and 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Feb. 28 at Cobo Center.

Autorama costs $19 for adults, $6 for children ages 6 to 12, and is free for children under 5 at the gate. Discount tickets are available at O’Reilly Auto Parts. For more information and celebrity appearance details, call (248) 373-1700 or go to www.autorama.com.

Staff Writer Sarah Wojcik contributed to this report.