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Southland Signs We're Turning The Page On The Pandemic

Irwindale Speedway, revenge travel, revenge spending, Street Rods Forever, and the LA Auto Show offer major indicators on So Cal’s response

By Roy Nakano

Fri, Jun 25, 2021 12:38 PM PST

Featured Image: Journalists don polarized sunglasses to view a new Volkswagen being debuted at the LA Auto Show (photo by R. Nakano)

Aston Kutcher starred in “The Butterfly Effect.” LBJ warned us about the domino effect. The Fast and the Furious like ground effects. Get ready for the latest one: The revenge effect.

The Revenge Effect

The revenge effect takes different forms. There’s revenge travel, which is what people want to do after a pandemic has grounded them for over a year. There’s revenge spending (see What’s Stopping You From Buying That Car Right Now?). And then there’s what happened at Irwindale Speedway…

Fabulous Ford Forever, and Ever

There were plenty of indicators this year’s Fabulous Fords Forever event would be a modest affair: The venue changed from the popular Knott’s Berry Farm parking lot to Irwindale Speedway. For the first time, they were charging an admission fee—$15 per person. There was a record heat wave blanketing the Southland. And, of course, there’s a pandemic going on.

The flyer for the 2021 Fabulous Fords Forever event, featuring a red Ford GT.
The flyer for the 35th Annual Fabulous Fords Forever (credit: Ford Car Club Council)

Fast forward to June 13, 2021: The attendance exceeds everyone’s wildest dreams. But not everything went dreamy. By 12 noon, the line getting into the spectator parking lot is backed up to the 605 freeway.  As one San Diego resident posting on the organizer’s Facebook page wrote: “We exited the freeway and haven’t moved! A traffic and parking nightmare. If we knew this, we would not have come. If we do make it to the show it’ll likely be when the cars are leaving. If people can’t get in, what’s the point? We’re still stuck and might just go home.” For what it’s worth, it was an awesome show if you managed to get there early.

How Much for Renting That Car?

As the story goes, the car rental companies got rid of their fleets because people stopped going places. With revenge travel kicking in this late spring, the rental companies can’t stock enough new cars. And that’s because the pandemic hit the semiconductor chip industry in the opposite way—i.e., the pandemic created a huge demand for chips from cloud computing service providers. A fire in a semiconductor fabrication plant in Japan and the winter storm in Texas delayed chip manufacturing and added salt to the wound. This left a wide spectrum of industries—including the automotive industry—with chip shortages, which in turn negatively impacted the production of automobiles.

The online travel agency and metasearch engine company KAYAK tracks the daily cost of renting cars in Los Angeles. The bad news is that KAYAK says the cost for an intermediate rental car is now $72, and that’s before taxes and fees. The good news is that it could be worse. 

In Hawaii, the cost is so high (as much as $700 a day) that vacationers have been renting moving trucks and vans as alternatives. This practice has attracted the wrath of the Hawaiian tourism industry. “These work vehicles are used frequently by Hawaii residents and businesses to move their belongings to new homes and offices, and for other essential personal tasks,” says John De Fries, President and CEO of the Hawai’i Tourism Authority as reported in MauiNow. “Having visitors rent these moving vehicles to use for leisure transportation is disrespectful and should not be encouraged by anyone in the travel industry.”

What About Used Cars?

The lack of new cars on the market means more people are turning to used cars for their next set of wheels. This means there is also a shortage of used cars, which in turn is driving up the cost. By some estimates, used car prices are up as much as 32 percent - this is particularly the case for the more popular types of vehicles such as SUVs.

Myrtle Avenue in Monrovia California, closed for traffic and instead featuring the event: "Street Rods Forever"
Street Rods Forever returns to Monrovia (R. Nakano)

Return To Forever

There are, of course, some positive signs in the Southland that we’re turning the page on the pandemic. One is the return of Street Rods Forever. For years, the organizers of this event cleared out traffic in Old Town Monrovia in order to bring us blocks and blocks of custom cars, muscle cars, hot rods, and of course street rods. In 2020, the event was cancelled. Recently, however, the organizers announced the return of the Street Rods Forever car show. Once again, it’ll be in Monrovia, California. And once again, it’ll be accompanied by a soapbox derby race—the 2nd Annual Old Town Derby. Mark the date on your calendar: September 11, 2021, for the 30th Annual Street Rods Forever Monrovia Car Show.

A classic car parked in front of Jake’s Roadhouse in Monrovia, California
Street rodding in front of Jake’s Roadhouse (R. Nakano)

The Return of the Los Angeles Auto Show 

Perhaps the biggest Southland sign that we’re turning the page on the pandemic is the return of the Los Angeles Auto Show. The LA Auto Show, traditionally scheduled in November, is one of the biggest annual events showcasing the new cars of the model year. It was, of course, cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic. But then the organizers announced it would return in May of 2020. This announcement caused the show organizers for the Detroit and LA shows to engage in a sequence of musical chairs.

First, the organizers of the Detroit Auto Show (also known as the North American International Auto Show) announced it would move their show (originally scheduled for the summer) to the fall of 2021, filling the new model year gap left by the LA show. But then the organizer of the Detroit show decided to put its show on pause for 2021. This brings us full circle again to the LA Auto Show, which is now back to a November schedule. For 2021, the LA Auto Show will be held November 19-28, 2021.

You can see how the planning is shaping up for the LA show by viewing its website. It’s fully expected the LA Auto Show will be the Southland’s automotive event of the year.

About The Author

Roy Nakano's profile picture

Roy Nakano

Roy Nakano gave birth to LACar in the late '90s, having previously delivered LA Audio File back in the '80s. Aside from the occasional review, Roy likes to stray off the beaten automotive path: "Six Degrees of Reparations" reflected on the regretful ethical paths taken by car companies throughout history. "Traveling Through the Past and Present of the Green Book" looked at businesses that took a stand against racism and the man that wrote the book on where to find them. "Best Cars to Drive in Rush Hour Traffic" was an LACar guide published in the pre-GPS era. "In Search of the First Datsun 510 Tuner" looked at one of the milestones in the origin of import tuners.

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