The Next Big Thing
Making Motorama: Episode 2 - The Next Big Thing
Summit Racing Equipment Atlanta Motor features well over a thousand cars in Atlanta Motor Speedway's infield, each with a story to share.
Some are familiar icons from the past, some are rare, and others are the newest, greatest thing to appear on the car show circuit. In 2018, Chris Ryan and his head-turning, red candy-flake painted custom fit firmly in the latter category.
"This is a 1956 Lincoln Continental Mark II," Ryan, of Ninety Six, S.C., said. "Most of the time celebrities had these and people that were well off. Elvis Presley had one, Frank Sinatra had one; this one actually belonged to Susan Hayward."
Ryan's Mark II turned a lot of heads when it appeared at Georgia's Motoring Festival, partly because of its beauty and also because it was a new hit on the car show circuit.
The only place to see Ryan's Mark II before it rolled into Atlanta Motorama was Detroit. There it earned a spot in the coveted "Great 8."
"This does not look like a modern interpretation of a custom. It looks like something you may have saw on the show circuit back in the late 60s early 70s - that's really what I was shooting for."
The folks that put Atlanta Motorama together take pride in finding a jewel like Ryan's Mark II and giving the southeast one of the first looks at a vehicle that will make an impression on enthusiasts across the country.
In its short time on the car show circuit so far, Ryan's Mark II has done just that.
"After we left Motorama we went to Syracuse, N.Y. Gene Winfield hands out an award up there called the Winfield Award and it's for America's Top Kustom and we were fortunate enough to have Gene pick this car," Ryan said.
"To have an icon like Gene pick it is super special to me, being a custom guy," he added.
To even be in consideration for the Great 8 or America's Top Kustom awards is a high bar to clear, especially for a car that was turned from near-scrap to custom in just nine months.
"The average guy may not be able to tell it by looking at our vehicles thinking they're all the same, but it's those little subtle things that those judges are being so critical of that they pick up on," Ryan said. "They are looking for flaws and we're trying to eliminate them."
A close inspection of Ryan's car shows how much attention was given to every detail, with just about every visible piece chromed, painted or polished. The Mark II's current state of near-perfection is a far cry from how it appeared when Ryan bought it a couple of years ago.
"It was pretty trashed with weeds growing up in it, it was pretty rusty and in pretty rough shape," Ryan said.
To say the car needed a lot of work is an understatement, but beneath the weeds and the rust Ryan saw and opportunity he couldn't pass up.
"This was one of my bucket list cars, if you will," Ryan said.
So he bought the car and brought it back to his shop in Ninety Six, S.C. There he turned the nearly-forgotten Mark II into an instant classic, which he points out wouldn't have happened without a lot of helping hands along the way.
When the Mark II was finished and ready to share with the world, Summit Racing Equipment Atlanta Motorama was high on the list of places Ryan wanted to bring it.
"Everybody treats you great at Motorama and it's not just about the cars. We have been there to see autocross, we've seen lawnmower racing and freestyle motocross," Ryan said. "There's so much more to do there.
"To see people's reactions when they see something different, something a little outside the box, it kinda makes my day."
There's no telling how many more awards Ryan's Mark II will win as it continues on the car show circuit, but you can bet the next big thing 2019 will make one of its first appearances here at Summit Racing Equipment Atlanta Motorama.
The 6th annual edition of Summit Racing Equipment Atlanta Motorama takes over Atlanta Motor Speedway April 27-28, 2019. Spectator tickets are priced at $15 per day or $20 for a two-day weekend pass; kids ages 12 and under get in free! Admission includes access to all areas of the show including the vendor midway, show car garage, extreme motorsports and much more.
New participants are always welcome and all participant registrations include infield vehicle admission to park in the show area, a pair of two-day tickets, FREE autocross entry, a goody bag stuffed with great gifts and offers from sponsoring partners, and an entry to win from more than $20,000 in cash and prizes as part of the Super Prize Giveaway!
To buy tickets, register your ride, or inquire about becoming a vendor at Motorama 2019, visit atlantamotorama.com or call Atlanta Motor Speedway at 770-946-3919.
Note: Video related to this story available upon request; please send video requests to Tyler Head (firstname.lastname@example.org).