There are a few telltale signs of springtime on the Grand Strand — the blooming azaleas and wildflowers, the arrival of golfers and spring-break vacationers, and the appearance of countless classic cars cruising through downtown Myrtle Beach.
It's that time of year again when the Run to the Sun Car Show returns to Myrtle Beach, bringing caravans of vintage hot rods and muscle cars to town March 16-18 for three full days of activities. Held by the Pee Dee Street Rodders, the 29th annual edition of this popular fundraiser welcomes hundreds of classic cars and thousands of classic-car enthusiasts to town for a celebration of American automotive craftsmanship.
This annual spring ritual started back in the 1980s and has grown into one of the largest car shows in the Southeast. An event that began with only 88 cars from the Pee Dee region gathering in Florence, about 65 miles inland, now attracts more than 3,200 entries each year and has made the short move to Myrtle Beach so participants can show off their rides to the masses.
Bay View on the Boardwalk has been hosting hot rodders and their owners and fans in Myrtle Beach since the event's move to the coast. Car owners love the downtown location that allows them to take a cruise down memory lane — or in this case Ocean Boulevard — and vintage-car fans love the close convenience of the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk, the beach and the location of the car show.
Held at the former Myrtle Beach Mall site between Kings Highway and the Myrtle Beach Convention Center, about 2 miles north of Bay View on the Boardwalk, the Run to the Sun Car Show features a large parking lot filled bumper to bumper with classic vehicles. See some of the most treasured products to roll off the assembly lines in American history, from the vintage Ford Model T to modern-day T-Birds. Attendees can chat with the car owners, take a look under the hoods and pose for photos with their favorite makes and models, like the 1957 Chevy, 1965 Ford Mustang, 1969 Dodge Charger and the 1978 Pontiac Trans Am.
Almost as impressive as this massive collection of chrome and steel is the detailed craftsmanship of both the original manufacturer and the vintage car collectors who have preserved their rides and restored them to the same condition as when the cars first rolled off the assembly line. Participants have invested countless hours and dollars to ensure their cars are in mint condition, from custom paint jobs and body work to overhauled block engines and all the original bells and whistles.
It's a labor of love for classic car lovers and a way to make a connection to their pasts, when taking their prized ride for a trip to the beach was a major part of their youths. Cruising “The Strip” in Myrtle Beach and gathering in parking lots to hang out and talk shop are among the traditions preserved by this event. The competition to earn the judges' approval and take home a trophy is secondary to the fun of going back in time.
The Run to the Sun Car Show also serves the greater good as a fundraiser for local charities like the Grand Strand Miracle Leagues and the Horry County Benevolent Fund, as well as national organizations such as the Children’s Miracle Network and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Last year's event raised nearly $100,000 for charity, bringing the grand fundraising total to more than $1.7 million since the event's inception. The show runs from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day, with the awards announced on the final day. For more information about entering or attending the car show, visit www.peedeestreetrodders.com.
While you are at it, be sure to book your reservations at Bay View on the Boardwalk so you can enjoy the best of both worlds during your vacation. Enjoy the beach, the resort and all the great attractions in the downtown district, and then take in all the classic cars and good, clean fun of the Run to the Sun Car Show.