When it was first announced that the popular Mopar event held at the Las Vegas Speedway was going all in and inviting other makes, there was a bit of a rumble in the Mopar community. It was clear to the event promoters that car shows in the West were thinning out, and in order to keep the show strong in both numbers and in support, long time event promoter Phil Painter let us all know that he wasn’t trying to change the event, necessarily, he was trying to bring some excitement and competition to Las Vegas.
The first year was limited, but as we’ve seen in the years that followed, the event has picked up new interest in vendors and in enthusiasts who see the MATS Show as a place to show and shine, autocross with the Racing Byrds, Rob and Trish, and tackle the 1320 with anyone willing to line up with them. This year, there were a few changes to the event, and despite the rumbling that came from the crowd, Painter tells us it was actually well received.
“We were very encouraged by what we were seeing,” Painter told us. “The change brought on by the new owners of the Cannery was concerning for some, however, everyone was pleasantly surprised when they realized how awesome the new Downtown Las Vegas Event Center opportunity was.” He also stated that everyone seemed pleasantly surprised with the Downtown Grand Hotel. This just shows that sometimes it’s good to bring some changes to the show, and to mix things up a little.
Mixing Things Up And Bringing Out The Demons
And speaking of mixing things up a little, we got to see what the 2018 Dodge Challenger Demons were capable of. There were a handful of them showing up for the event, and that only sparked more encouragement for the Hellcat crowd to come out and show everyone what they’re made of, too. Another change that came with the show this year, though it was not used for this event, is the new track at Las Vegas – specifically the four-wide dragstrip. Many of us watched the progress with heavy anticipation and curiosity as to whether we were going to see a four-wide Demon battle on the strip, but it was not going to happen this year.
We watched the racing on the strip and it was interesting to see how varied the times were between Hellcats and Demons. Some racers remained consistent throughout the weekend, despite the blistering hot temperatures on Friday, others started slow and brought the heat as they learned how to make the transition from street to strip. If you got bored looking at all the show cars, cruising through the swap area, or watching the time attack happen in the cone zone, the one constant all weekend was the strip. Some even eluded to the show transitioning from a Car Show with Drag Racing to a Drag Race with a Car Show.
Painter felt it too, but it was just the beginning, he told us. “The performance on display this year at the event was just the tip of the iceberg for what the future has in store. We are holding the Inaugural Hellcat & Demon Nationals in St.Louis April 14-15th.” It was pretty clear that the crowd was eager to see what the Demons could bring this year, and the Hellcats weren’t far behind with a few sporting the massive blower upgrades from performance vendors like Kenne Bell. You can find a list of Drag Race Winners here.
Show And Shine Still Bringing Unique And Intense Rides
While the car show is now open to all makes and models, everywhere you looked it was like a package of Skittles spilled out into the car corral. From the variety of colors on the modern Mopars to the ocular blast of classic Mopars wearing some of our favorite paint colors from years past, it was clear that the Mopar crowd, once again, crushed the Ford and GM crowd in numbers and intensity.
We did see some regulars from past shows and events, as well as new attendees that brought out the big guns. It seems like it’s only a matter of time before the lesser of the Big Three make their way to Vegas for the MATS Las Vegas show. Will it be in 2019? Or will it take a couple more years before we start seeing some competition? Either way, the Mopars are still the big draw and the coolest cars at the show, and we captured quite a few of them this year.You can find a list of the Car Show Winners here.
Check out our gallery, and a final word from the man who’s been putting this show on since some of you were just kids. “I would like to thank everyone for their continued support of the event. We are happy to answer event questions or take comments about the show if anyone wants to reach out to us,” Painter concluded.