After a successful return to running 80s and 90s nostalgia-fueled automotive festivals in July with the NorCal show, the Radwood wave hit the midwest this weekend with a fiery blast of mid-summer throwback. While the show felt like a total throwback to the 1990s with a live cover band, hundreds of totally rad cars and motorcycles, and era-appropriate attire, the weather felt like a throwback to a time before the Earth developed an ozone layer. Damn, it was hot.
[Disclaimer: In case you don’t already know, I am one of the co-founders of Radwood. I will directly materially benefit if you buy a ticket or some merch. I am absolutely biased in favor of this show continuing to be a roaring success. It’s important to me, Radwood, and Jalopnik that you know this information.]
This was our first time hosting an event in Chicago, and it went off with minimal hitches. With more show-friendly weather, I’m sure the party would have been even bigger, but hundreds of enthusiasts braved the heat and slathered on the SPF 50 to make the whole thing a total blast. Nobody could go twenty minutes without mentioning the heat, but as hot as the weather was, the cars were even hotter!
As usual, cars and drivers came from several states away, with one enthusiast mentioning he made the trek from Colorado. A cursory walk around the lot saw dozens of cars with plates from outside Illinois. Obviously there were the somewhat expected Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan and Iowa, but the odd Missouri, Ohio, and Nebraska were prominently displayed. An easy fan favorite was the second Radwood appearance of the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile.
Of course, with both the Weinermobile and a gorgeous Integra Type R on hand at the same show, we had to re-create the famous “Second Most Fun Car On The Road” Acura ad from back in the day.
For the first time since Radwood kicked off back in 2017, we decided to try out the idea of live music. With Chicago’s own Run Forrest Run on hand to jam out the rockin’ tunes, there was a little bit of something for everyone to enjoy.
Another really cool part of the show was the Realtime team bringing its Speedvision series-winning Integra Type R down to the show from Wisconsin. Acura and Realtime ran the ITR in World Challenge from 1997 until the RSX Type-S bowed in the mid-2000s, and won dozens of races with this orange and white monster. Cunningham won the championship with this car in 2002, and it was super cool to see in person. More race cars at Radwoods, please and thank you.
My personal favorite of the event was this gnarly Alfa Spider. Built as an autocrosser, the car featured a stripped interior, a total lack of bumpers, a grimy side-exit exhaust, and a rowdy hot-cam motor that sounded like it hated life at idle and would have preferred sending the tach to 7,000. Very rad.
So who won?
Well, there are five trophies to present at each Radwood event; Raddest In Show, Raddest Domestic, Raddest Import, Raddest Truck, and Raddest Motorcycle. Here’s how it went down.
I am the resident bike guy in the Radwood crew, so more often than not the decision as to who wins Raddest Motorcycle lies on my shoulders. Here’s a fun fact; If you show up with an OG 1981 Suzuki GSX 1100 S Katana, you’re leaving with a trophy. Especially if it is tastefully modified like this machine was. This bike could run over my entire face and I would apologize for bleeding on its tire. I’ll be dreaming about this one for years to come. BMW R1100GS, who?
The 2 Low Flo lowrider truck crew came out to the show to give everyone a taste of its stuck-in-the-90s fanaticism, and every truck was cooler than the one before it. This particular Blazer was totally it. With a custom targa top, louvered hood, and gorgeous paintwork, it was our favorite, but any of this crew’s trucks could have won the award, honestly. Show up, show out, win an award.
When we think “rad era” we often think about stuff like this. The cocaine-fueled monster modified machines of the era are iconic, and there are few more rad than those built by Strosek. This Porsche 928 had everything going for it, including a wild interior and an even wilder exterior. Have you ever seen a 928 with side strakes? I thought not. Easy win.
Super High Output wins the day. With a spectacularly clean example of Ford’s hot sedan, it was totally impossible to ignore this guy. We have always been SHO fans, but I think this was only the second time one had been given a trophy. They’re hard to find in this condition, but when they come along, you recognize them for what they are.
It may seem a bit unorthodox, but our Raddest In Show at this event was this gorgeous (?) 1981 Chrysler Cordoba LS. As a kid who grew up in the rust belt, I thought cars like this were extinct, I thought they’d all been wiped off the face of the planet. But no, this one was absolutely gorgeous inside and out. The owner had one in high school and it rotted out around him, so when the opportunity came up to buy this one as a barn find and clean it up, he jumped at the chance. Very cool car, and an even better story.
There was a ton to appreciate at this show, but way too much to talk about. Here are a bunch more photos, hopefully they’ll give you an idea what it was like out there. Definitely don’t miss it next time.
The next Radwood show is Radwood PNW, going down on September 19th at the Dirtfish rally school. We’ll have skate legend turned rallyist Bucky Lasek on hand to give ride-alongs in a real era-appropriate 555 Subaru rally car. You definitely want to be there.