By David Thome – Special to ADAMM– Automobile Dealers Association of Metro Milwaukee
The Greater Milwaukee Car & Truck Show is a great place to get up close and personal with the latest new vehicles. (Photo by Jeffrey Phelps)
It has been more than a year since the Greater Milwaukee Car & Truck Show opened for its annual run in Milwaukee.
While the pandemic restricted where and when the annual show could take place, its sponsors found a solution. Instead of being held at the Wisconsin Convention Center downtown in winter, it be held in spring at State Fair Park in West Allis, providing the opportunity for some outdoor events. The show opens Wednesday, May 5, and runs through Sunday, May 9.
Even though there are some changes, regular showgoers will recognize two of the most important features: The hundreds of new vehicles on display and the presence of experts who can answer questions about them.
What Jim Tolkan, president of the Auto Dealers Association of Metro Milwaukee, which sponsors the show, wants everyone to know is that measures will be taken to make the show safe for regulars and newbies, kids and seniors, car shoppers and car lovers—in short, everyone.
“We haven’t been able to go anywhere for a year, but we’re doing everything we can to give people a chance to get out and be safe,” Tolkan says. “We’ll be following the recommendations very closely. Masks will be required indoors, and we’ll be keeping up with sanitation protocols.”
Keeping the public safe starts before the doors open, with an emphasis on buying tickets online from the show’s website. There’s even an incentive—$2 off the $12 admission fee for people 13 and older when you purchase tickets through Autoshowmilwaukee.com.
John Pentler, general manager of Uptown Ford Lincoln of Wauwatosa and ADAMM’s 2021 auto show chairman, says that the show will also continue the tradition of being a place where people who are looking for a new vehicle can kick the tires of new models, check under the hood and see how they fit their needs.
“A lot of shoppers are doing research on the internet, which lets you pick out what you want and how you want it to be equipped, but you still can’t actually touch the cars unless you go to a dealership,” he says. “The auto show offers another option, letting you check out different makes and models in one place and on your own terms.”
As always, selling cars is not allowed at the show, but experts—some from local dealerships and some representative provided by manufacturers—will be on hand to answer questions. If you find a vehicle you like, you may also be able to schedule a test drive at a dealership on the spot.
This year’s show highlights include many attractions of particular interest to Hot Rod Radio listeners:
• Test drives: Drivers 18 and older will be able to test drive the Ford Mustang Mach-E, Bronco Sport, Explorer ST and F-150. Test drive hours are 3 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, May 9. Masks are required.
• Hang out with a legend: Indianapolis 500 champion Al Unser Jr. will be at the show to sign autographs and share stories about his storied career—including his days competing at the Milwaukee Mile—on Saturday, May 8
• Hot Rod Radio: Popular hosts Captain Bob and Arlo will do their show live from the Car & Truck Show on Saturday morning.
• Bennett Coachworks Showcase: Internationally respected Milwaukee-based restorer and customizer Bob Bennett will feature a Cobra made by legendary West Allis automaker Excalibur along with other vintage and exotic vehicles.
• Participate in a show within a show: On Saturday and Sunday, local car collectors and restorers can show off their vehicles at the Classic Car Shows that will be part of the event for the first time, made possible by the new venue. Captain Bob and Arlo will judge classic, specialty and custom cars brought by area owners to a separate area on the grounds.
Exhibitors can register in advance at Autoshowmilwaukee.com/experience/ or upon arriving at State Fair Park. Anyone who displays a car will receive two free tickets to the Auto Show. Setup from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. Exhibit times are 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.• Family fun: Kids 7 and under enter for free on all days; 8-12 get in free on Sunday and receive a discount on the other days.
• Sip & Savor: Sample food and drinks from local breweries, wineries, distilleries and restaurants from 6:30 to 9 p.m. on Thursday. Tickets are available for $25 from Autoshowmilwaukee.com or $30 at the door.
• Putting for a great cause: Try Tricky Trails mini-golf for a donation of $2 or more per player per round to support Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin. Open 4 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, 3 to 7 p.m. on Thursday and Friday and 1 to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.