• Drake Donovan

2020 Car Show Life Virtual Car Show

Updated: Feb 2


Being a car show enthusiast in the Northeast or the Midwest during the winter months is excruciating. While our cars are in storage, under covers and hooked up to battery tenders, our friends in southern and western states are enjoying cars and coffees and cruise-ins all year round. So, what are car guys and gals in our locales to do? Have a virtual car show!


When I was in Ohio as a member of the Northeastern Ohio Camaro Club, our winter club meetings were a perfect place to show off our diecast collectibles and dream of warmer days with our full-scale steel babies. Now that I’m all by my lonesome in North Central PA, I decided to take the idea up a notch with a highly detailed virtual car show.


Things got started in November of 2019 when I purchased some lenses for my Samsung Galaxy Note 9. I tested them out by photographing a couple of models. The results were incredibly lifelike. From there I began creating show boards for the models to demonstrate some storytelling thru graphics. Those examples turned out well, too. So now I’m thinking, “What would this look like in an outdoor setting?”


My plan was to set up a table in the backyard and create a parking lot scene. My wife had this ‘chalk board paper’ that was perfect to cover the tabletop. The matte finish was very close to dry asphalt. To make parking lines, I found a yellow pinstriping tape.


The next step was scouring the internet for scale chairs, coolers, trophies…anything I could find that would help set the scene. Sites for dollhouse accessories, dioramas, railroads…I searched them all. I came up with some sets for car shows and camping that yielded folding chairs, coolers, buckets, mirrors and traffic cones. The holy grail was a 1:18 scale EZ Up tent!


For the stuff that I couldn’t find, I started figuring out ways craft elements to further sell the illusion. At my local A.C. Moore, I scored some wood dowel rods, wooded squares and planks, small swatches of cloth as well as an Exacto saw and miter box. I also found an honest to goodness hobby shop in my area. English Model Railroad supply in Montoursville, PA had a treasure trove of plastic pieces, adhesives and paints that I could employ to create tables, show boards and other elements to finish out my car show scene.


I spent much of the holiday season photographing the cars and coming up with back stories for the “owners” of each car. The photo sessions were at the window of my basement walkout. It has a nice, wide windowsill allowed me to place a black photo matte sheet as my “asphalt” and have the cars to appear outdoors with reflection of the trees and horizon.


Now the waiting began. I needed a nice, dry day with low wind. In the meantime, I set out to create the final details. Each car had its own 1:18 scale version of a car show life show board. I made vinyl pull-up banners, a framed poster on a custom stand, small framed plaques and “dibond” style prints. I also needed a window card for each car, so I printed up micro cards numbered to identify each car. Finally, I came up with scale car show flyers to place on the drivers’ seat of each car.


I spent two and half hours in the backyard on a sunny, yet chilly day in January 2020 capturing my scene from every possible angle without casting too many ‘gigantic’ shadows over the show. It was a great way to focus on something other than the cold winter weather.


I encourage you to do the same. If you’re not spending the off-season working on your real cars, let’s see some photos of your diecasts and hear the stories behind them. Tell us how you live the car show life when you’re not able to live the #CarShowLife! I’ll be sharing more detailed photos of each on the Car Show Life Instagram page thru the winter. In the meantime, check out the gallery for the group shots.


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