No matter where you live in the U.S., you are likely to find a car meetup happening within a 20 miles radius on any given day. The concept is simple. A group of local car enthusiasts gather in a parking lot with their favorite rides. They park, hang out and talk about cars. Usually donuts and coffee are involved, as well.
Car meetups, also known as “cars and coffee” gatherings, are a staple in the American car culture. They take place in small towns, suburbs and big cities alike. Smaller local events are even held on a weekly basis during the week after work at a local hot dog stand or ice cream shop. Some of these meetups have grown into large, multiday events that attract hundreds or even thousands of vehicles and auto enthusiasts.
Car meetups likely have been happening since automobiles first became popular in the U.S. in the late 19th century. Not long after that, driving enthusiasts began forming formal clubs to share their love of cars and advocate for better roads. The Automobile Club of Southern California began meeting in 1900. The American Automobile Association was formed by nine metropolitan car clubs in 1902.
Car clubs really took off in the postwar America of the 1950s and 1960s. For example, car lovers launched the Vintage Sports Car Club of America in 1958 to meet and share their passion for classic vehicles.
Throughout the decades, what has made these events special is the simple fact that everyone in attendance loves cars. Not just their own. Every driver will make the rounds to see what cars are on the lot. It's an opportunity to catch up with old friends and see if there are any rookies at the event brandishing a new car to pore over with a magnifying glass and a list of inquisitive questions.
These events can also vary in the type of vehicles they attract. Some gatherings are strictly for owners of a certain type of vehicle, such as Chevrolet Corvettes, Ford Mustangs, Jeep Wranglers or MINI Coopers. There are also meetups specifically for classic and vintage cars. These types of events are often held less frequently and are more organized thanks to an affiliation with a local car club.
Some of the more notable meetups in the U.S. include these events that have become favorites:
Charlotte Pennzoil AutoFair: Staged in both spring and fall in Charlotte, NC, the multiday AutoFair events welcome thousands of cars, drivers and enthusiasts to the famous Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Sacramento Autorama: This event, held every February, will celebrate its 70th year in 2020. The Autorama features hundreds of show vehicles, including many one-of-a-kind custom rides, and more than two dozen car clubs all indoors at the Cal Expo Fairgrounds.
Telluride Festival of Cars & Colors: The picturesque San Juan Mountains of Colorado play host to this four-day car fest every September. The event includes a concours of vintage vehicles, a car show in historic downtown Telluride, a highway road rally and a fine-arts exhibition.
Woodward Dream Cruise: Held every August in several towns along Woodward Ave. just north of Detroit, MI, the Dream Cruise attracts 1.5 million people and 40,000 classic cars from around the world.
The next time you are looking for a fun, relaxing day of hanging out with likeminded car enthusiasts, a quick Google search will surely find a local car meetup. And, of course, look at how many cars are fitted with Pirelli tires. Enjoy!