To Judge? Or Not to Judge

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With the vast number and wide variety of car show events vying week to week for participants, the issue of judging can make or brake any car show! Sad to say, but for many car show participants, there is an air of stress at the simplest mention of the word JUDGING! Currently there are a wide spectrum of events available all with their own merits and problems related to judging, all having their place in the Car Culture Community! The range actually stretches from Non Judged to Spectator Choice / Participant Pick to the most involved Team Judged events. The main factor that needs to be addressed is keeping an event FUN for the participants and judges alike.

Many organizations (Car Clubs and Civic Groups) who host car shows have opted to hand out random cash awards, billing their event as a Non-Judged “Fun Meet”. This allows all participants to have an equal chance at driving home with cold hard cash rather than going through the judging process. This process saves a lot of the hosting organizations time and energy from physically inspecting each vehicle, processing each of the judging sheets then coordinating a trophy presentation at the end of the event and dealing with any complaints of “why didn’t I receive an award”. See in the next section my fix to a vast majority of the complaints. The only real downside to this type of event, is Non-Judged events lack of competition.

There are still those participants who live for the competition side of an event, where the best vehicles are awarded on their merits as decided by a judging body. The simplest of these would be Spectator Choice and Participant Judging. Both are about the same, however both have been questioned by many as actually being a good old boy, buddy system at work! While I do admit that this “could” be the case, I find that the majority of either spectators or participants who are judging are honest car hobbyists or car enthusiasts. They go out and judge honestly see either what they like in the spectators case or actually the best vehicles by the participants. As mentioned in the positive side of the Non Judged “Fun Meet”, there is the likely hood of complaints resulting from the judging. As a chief judge at a local show and In an attempt to keep the peace “I” had a an ace in the hole to make an unhappy entrant less unhappy with the days events. The ace you ask… well I kept four honorable mention award just in case the situation arose at the end of the event with an unhappy participant. I would call it a Win – Win the owner left happy, and will more than likely return the following year.

Then there is Team Judging. This type of judging is usually the format used by the majority of the National Clubs, Marquis Specific Clubs and Concours D’Elegance events. This could be noted as the most stressful of all of the forms of judging discussed here. One thing to remember by both judges and participants is that a Judging Team can be a formidable presence. I suggest the judging team act in a friendly manner with the participants and thank the owners for bringing their pride and joy to the event! For those new participants to this style of judging, it can even be a bit overwhelming. I do have a few suggestions for a new “Judged” Car Show participant to lessen the stress and help in making it what it should be all about, the fun. First, the entrant should read the information provided regarding the judging of an event either in the clubs publication or website. I would also suggest the owner have a knowledgeable yet impartial friend walk their car and noting any problem area and correcting them. Any owner can become a bit jaded so fresh disinterested eyes could spot that drip from the transmission, grease over flowing from a fitting or cob webs hanging from the exhaust. Last but clearly not least, I would suggest that the entrant go to the club judging seminar, judges training and or participant orientation to get a clear feel for what the judges are looking for. With these tasks completed, it should relieve a lot of the “unknown” Stress, making this what it should be a fun event. After the show is completed I also suggest the owner contact the host of the event and request a copy of the judges sheet for what areas need correction so they can work on those items for future events.

With these few suggestion, I would hope that the entire car show experience could become a FUN experience for both the participants and the judges alike!

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