Hot August Nights prepares for 30th anniversary |

Hot August Nights prepares for 30th anniversary

Annie Conway |
This year marks the 30th anniversary for Hot August Nights. Each year the events draw hundreds of thousands of classic car enthusiasts to northern Nevada.
Courtesy Marcello Rostagni |

Preparations for the 2016 Hot August Nights (HAN) are in full swing as the non-profit organization gears-up for its 30th anniversary.

The event draws hundreds of thousands of car enthusiasts locally, nationally and internationally to northern Nevada each year. HAN budgets $2 million to put on the Reno/Sparks and Virginia City events. With only a small potion of money coming from car registrations, the organization relies on its event sponsors to fund the event.

“In general it is our community partners, the businesses and the casinos” that keep the event going, Mike Whan, Hot August Nights executive director, said.

The 2015 Reno/Sparks and Virginia City events drew an estimated 500,000 attendees to the region with more than 5,500 classic car participants.

According to Whan, approximately two-thirds of the attendees come from outside the region. Participants travel to the Biggest Little City from around the country and internationally from countries such as Canada and even Australia. Based on the last study that was done in partnership with University of Nevada, Reno, the event has an economic impact of $254 million regionally.

Preparation for the Hot August Nights events is a year round job. HAN’s team works to acquire the necessary permits from the city and county, works with the casinos to renew their contracts and attracts new sponsors for the event. With a staff of only six, the organization relies heavily on their volunteers to make their events a success.

“We have volunteers who have been here since day one,” Whan said. “Many others have been here 10 years plus.”

HAN had more than 500 volunteers help at last year’s event. Volunteers do everything from checking in cars at the event, serving on various committees that plan the event, to volunteering with the Hot August Nights Foundation.

“(HAN) established the Hot August Nights Foundation in 2007 as a way to get more involved in the community,” Whan said.

The 501(c)(3) nonprofit works to raise money for at risk children in the Reno-Sparks community. In 2015, the foundation raised more than $125,000 for 20 local nonprofits including the Boys & Girls club of Truckee Meadows, The Discovery Museum, the Children’s Cabinet and more.

Each year, the organization works to improve Hot August Nights while maintaining the traditions of the event.

For the 2016 main event, HAN revamped one of its Show-n-Shine competitions into the Hot August Nights Cup. During the multiple day competition, “an elite 50” classic cars will compete for a portion of $100,000 in cash and prizes provided by Downtown Reno Properties.

The organization also selected Motorsport Auction Group LLC to run the auction and exhibition portion of the event after Barrett-Jackson announced in 2015 they would not be extending their partnership.

“There are a lot of auction companies that want to be here,” he said. Motorsport Auction Group stood out to Whan due to their willingness to be a partner with the organization and relocate to Reno. “It is exciting to find an auction company who wants to put on the best auction for our clientele.”

One of the event’s challenges is appealing to younger audiences.

For the 2016 event, they doubled their entertainment budget in order to draw higher profile performers. HAN is still finalizing the entertainment lineup and did not disclose this year’s performers but is looking to get music from the late 1970s and early ‘80s.

“You have to constantly change and make things exciting,” Whan said.

Last year, HAN partnered with Virginia City for the first time to host their inaugural kick-off event. Thousands of spectators and 190 classic cars filled the streets of the Comstock town during the two-day event.

The event received such positive feedback from city officials and spectators that Virginia City and HAN committed to a three-year partnership to continue the kickoff event. The 2016 Virginia City event will be held on Saturday, July 29 and Sunday, July 30. Whan anticipates that they will have around 300 cars showcased at this year’s event. Car registration for the Virginia City event is $40.

But first up for the 2016 activities, is the annual Spring Fever Revival, which will be on Friday, May 20 through Sunday, May 22 in partnership with Downtown Reno Properties. There, participants can also register for the August events at a lower rate.

The 2016 Hot August Nights will be held from Tuesday, Aug. 2 through Sunday, Aug. 7 at various locations in Reno and Sparks. Classic car owners can now register for the events at