Car show will get your motor running

February 02, 2006|By SAM SESSA | SAM SESSA,SUN REPORTER

When it comes to cars, sportscaster James "JB" Brown doesn't play to win.

Brown, a co-host on Fox NFL Sunday, said he enters his rides in auto shows for the chrome and camaraderie.

"This is really a hobby for me -- one that allows me to kind of get away from the frenetic schedule that I keep and how time-consuming my schedule becomes during the football season," Brown said.

"It's really funny -- the people who I've met by and large who are in this arena -- either young, old, black, white, rich or poor, there really is a common bond that they all share in terms of that interest. It's really a pretty neat little community.

Part of that show-car community comes together this weekend for the World of Wheels. Held at the Baltimore Convention Center, the annual auto show features more than 30 clubs and 200 cars. Some of the local clubs include No Tubs, Maryland Camaro Club, Free State Corvette Club and Street Cars of Desire.

There will also be vendors, a BMX display, two stages, the USA Break Dancers, a host of celebrity appearances and a fashion show by the Texas Bikini Team.

"We need another hall," said co-chairwoman Patti Knaack. "We could fit a lot more in."

The autos are categorized and judged by year, type (street rods, imports) and the number of modifications. Clubs and owners started sending applications in August and September of last year, and a committee decided the final roster at the end of December, said Knaack and her husband, Jim.

Judges score the vehicles over the course of the weekend, they said. Plaques and prize money will be awarded to the best cars in each category.

Brown owns three cars in the show: a cranberry-apple 1937 Ford coupe, a black 1948 Chevy Special pickup truck with orange flames and a yellow-and-white 1955 Chevy Bel Air. He said he doesn't keep his cars stored in trailers all the time and likes to drive them when he gets the chance.

"I don't want a car that's so unbelievably clean on the underside that you can eat off it, but you can't drive it," he said. "I don't mind it being clean, and I'll go through the cleaning, but I prefer to drive it."

Brown took his pickup to Hershey, Pa., for a show even though the cab is a little cramped when he's behind the wheel. He stands 6-foot-5-inches and weighs 265 pounds, he said.

"I look like Humpty Dumpty sitting behind the wheel of that truck," Brown said.

The pickup is one of about a dozen vehicles Brown owns. Until recently, his wife thought that number was more like four or five, because he keeps them spread out in different places, he said. During an interview, Brown mentioned how many cars he really owns, and his wife gave him "the eye," he said.

"She looked at me like, `Boy you owe me big time,' Brown said. So she headed up to Saks or Nordstrom or someplace and went shopping later that day."

But Brown doesn't put as much money into his vehicles as some car collectors. Some invest as much as a million dollars to make their cars all-around stunners, he said. His own rides have their imperfections -- chips here and there.

"You may see a little road grime up under there because, hey, they're driven on the street, and that's the way I want it," he said.

The World of Wheels runs this weekend at the Baltimore Convention Center at Pratt and Howard streets. Hours are 5 p.m.-10:30 p.m. tomorrow, 10 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $13 for general admission, $5 for children 6-12 and free for children 5 and younger. For more information, call 410-649-7000 or visit worldofwheels.com.

sam.sessa@baltsun.com

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