More than two hours before the official start of the car show portion of the three-day Street Car Takeover presented by Nitros Outlet event, cars started rolling into the parking lot at Side Pockets in Blue Springs.
By the time Saturday evening ended, 24-year-old Lee’s Summit native Justin Keith, one of the owners of Street Car Takeover, expected more than a 1,000 cars and 4,000 people to show up.
Considering this is just the second year of Street Car Takeover, it is quite a feat for Keith and his 28-year-old partner, Chase Lautenbach of Oklahoma City.
Essentially, Street Car Takeover gives an opportunity for people to race their cars on a quarter-mile drag strip. To learn more about the type of racing and about Street Car Taker over, go to www.streetcar-takeover.com.
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“There is a big crowd of street racers,” Keith said. “Basically, our main goal was try to get the younger crowd back on the track. The way we have our races set up is it caters to the younger guys with the fast Corvettes, Camaros and Mustangs. They really don’t have a race they can go and feel like they are the show.
“A lot of your car events these days do everything at one place. What we do is spread it out through the city. We want people to get their cars out. We want them to drive them.”
The Street Car Takeover in Kansas City on July 10-12 was so much more than the actual drag racing that took place July 12 at the Mo-Kan Dragway in Asbury, Mo., two hours south of Kansas City.
Friday, was Dyno Night at a performance shop in Independence.
“We probably had 1,500 people there in the rain,” Keith said.
Saturday was the car show at Side Pockets in Blue Springs in which a large parking lot was filled with people showing off their cars, some of which were going to make the two-hour trek to Mo-Kan Dragway the next day.
ProCharger, which manufactures supercharger systems, was one of the sponsors for the event. The company, based in Lenexa, set up a tent at the car show earlier Saturday to be ready for the event that ran from 4 to 11 p.m.
“I am very impressed with how many people are here,” said Sergio Shifman, senior technician/sales advisor at ProCharger. “We were here at 1:30 and there were already 100 cars here.
“The Street Car Takeover, we think, is a growing event. It is local to us in Kansas City. They are based out of Kansas City. That is part of it. We are trying to grow the social media side of our company. Their presence on the Internet and Facebook is really growing.”
The three-day event concluded on Sunday. Many of the cars that competed in the drag race met at Side Pockets at 8 a.m. Sunday and drove to Mo-Kan Dragway together.
Shelby Vasko was planning on making the trip and competing. Vasko was going to race her 2009 Cadillac CTSV.
“I raced last year,” Vasko said. “We traveled to their other events in St. Louis and Oklahoma City. I raced there as well. I love it.
“This is awesome. We are friends with Justin. We are ecstatic with the turnouts in each city we go to. Justin and Chase are doing it right. They know exactly what they are doing. I am so happy for them.”
It is quite amazing what Keith and Lautenbach have done in such a short time. The idea grew from them running into each other over the years at car shows. They both enjoyed drag racing.
They wanted to give an outlet to young adults who like to race and take their cars off the streets and put them on a drag strip.
“We do roll racing,” Lautenbach said. “That is one of the biggest things. It is a rolling start drag race. It kind of simulates what all these kids are doing on the highway. This gets them to the track.
“It seems kind of funny to me that these cities complain about street racing and yet they force these kids to the street. You can’t take cars away from car guys. It is never going to happen. It is something that no matter what is going on in the world, a car guy is a car guy no matter what.”
Last year Keith and Lautenbach went into business together and held five Street Car Takeovers across the country.
“We wanted to see if we could do it, sink or swim,” Lautenbach said.
They said Jason Sandusky of Kansas City and John Cundy of Topeka have been important in helping them grow to 10 shows this year. They plan to go year-round next year with as many as 15 events.
July is a busy time for them. Street Car Takeover will be in Denver this weekend and in Indianapolis July 24-26. They have shows are far west as Phoenix and as far east as Orlando.
Streetcar Takeover has been such a big venture for Keith and Lautenbach that they quit their full-time jobs. Lautenbach was an insurance agent and Keith, who went to Blue Springs South, worked for Cable-Dahmer Chevrolet in Independence.
“The car stuff I have been doing since I was 15 years old,” Keith said. “It has always been a passion of mine. I guess if there is one thing I learned in high school is I always heard chase your passion, go after what you want. This is what I wanted to do. It took a little while, but we are doing it.
“It was a little scary for me, but sometimes you have to jump in the pool and go with it.”
Keith and Lautenbach said they knew they were headed in the right direction when they had a Street Car Takeover in St. Louis during Memorial Day weekend. They said they had more than 6,000 people attend the two-day event.
“The other side of doing the show and the open house is trying to bring everybody in and make sure there is something for everybody to do,” Sandusky said. “We, as car people, have divided into groups. We want to bring the groups back together, the truck guys, the car guys, the racing guys. That is what we are about.”
And that is who showed up on a hot Saturday afternoon in Blue Springs. There was a wide range of cars and a wide range of age groups, from teenagers, showing off their first car to people like Steve Clyde, who drove from Kansas City, Kan., to the event with his wife in his 1972 Chevy Nova.
“I had this car for 33 years,” Clyde said. “It was my first car. I bought it when I was 15 years old for $400.”
The car is now insured for $40,000. Clyde wasn’t going to race his car because the track is 2 hours away, but he said if the track was closer, he definitely would have competed in the Street Car Takeover.
“It is kind of sad we don’t have a drag strip around this part of town anymore,” Clyde said.
“I brought it out to this show to see what is here. I think this is great. It brings a lot of business to everybody. It is a great way to hang out, look at everybody’s car.”
Justin Smith of Topeka said he was taking his 2012 Mustang to Mo-Kan Dragway to do a test and tune.
“I rebuilt the motor and put a bigger blower on it so I want to see what it can do,” Smith said. “I like it. It gives us a chance to enjoy the car scene. I am sure it will grow rather quickly.”
Keith and Lautenbach are thinking big. While they appreciate Side Pockets and the businesses around it for use of the parking lot, they said the event is growing so fast that they are looking at doing the car show next year at Truman Sports Complex.
Keith, Lautenbach, Sandusky and Cundy do more than make sure the events run smoothly. They race.
“I think the people who come to our events feel more at home with us because they see us out there racing against them,” Keith said.
Cash prizes and trophies are awarded at the races. As nice as those are, the camaraderie among car enthusiasts is the best part, they said.
“We want to make sure we are doing everything to keep everybody happy and make it safe and fun for kids and adults and everybody of all ages,” Sandusky said. “I think it is great what they are doing and I am glad to be a part of it. We work hard, but we have fun.”