By Christopher Baldwin | The Gainesville Sun
Luis Rivera drove his orange 2012 McLaren MP4-12C about 112 miles from Orlando to Gainesville for Saturday's second annual Tioga Car Show.
They ran into rain and love bugs. By the time they made it to Gainesville's Tioga Town Center, the front bumper and windshield of this approximately $230,000 vehicle and others from the Orlando Automotive Club were covered in a sheet of the bugs' remains.
"(I) got slammed with 2,349,692 love bugs," he wildly estimated. "It's constant. It's like a shower, but we're here."
Car show organizers provided a detailing service for just this reason. Although Rivera detailed his own car because he said he wasn't comfortable with someone else doing it, that the service was available was "very cool," he said.
The Tioga Car Show featured about 180 cars from collectors around the state and beyond, raising money for the Sebastian Ferrero Foundation, which is on a mission to provide Gainesville with a full-service, state-of-the-art children's hospital.
On display was a range of impressive vehicles, from antique automobiles and classic American muscle cars to European exotics and Japanese tuners. Motorcycles and a Ford monster truck also were on display.
"That's (one) reason why I think people love this show so much — it's a varied group of cars," said Eric Van Vorst, an organizer for the event. "We're not catering only to classic cars or catering only to exotics. We want to have a little bit of everything because certain people are into certain groups of cars (more) than others. So this show's unique because there is not another show in Gainesville that has the variety of cars."
Car owners sat in lawn chairs and spoke with those interested in their vehicles. Although many cars attracted the attention and awe of car lovers, some vehicles such as Rivera's McLaren stood out. People with smartphones were taking pictures of a blue '65 Ford Shelby Cobra replica, which was parked next to an equally stunning '60s-style red Ford C-Class hot rod. There was even a black Maybach that apparently was once owned by Rush Limbaugh.
Little Mike and the Tornados entertained the large crowd with live music, and a Monster Truck demo featured the driver crawling into the Ford and revving the 1,800-horsepower engine, which could be heard clear across the center.
At one point, all the cars started their engines simultaneously, the sound echoing off the center's buildings and causing event-goers to cheer wildly.
"It's neat," Van Vorst said. "We did it last year for the first show … and people absolutely loved it."
The event was held for the first time in 2012 after Van Vorst brought the idea to Horst Ferrero, founder and president of the Sebastian Ferrero Foundation.
"I helped out in a smaller capacity in a show that's in Orlando in February for the past six or seven years and just thought that it would be a good idea to bring an event like that to Gainesville," he said. "(Ferrero) is a friend, and so I thought this would be a good way to give back to the community, spread the awareness and get people from the other areas of the state of Florida to understand the mission of the Sebastian Ferrero Foundation."
Last year the event had 150 registered vehicles and about 3,000 people attended the event, Ferrero said. This year, the event saw about 180 vehicles and about 5,000 event-goers, organizers said.
Shortly after 2 p.m., an awards ceremony covering 14 categories took place. The top category, best in show, went to Rivera and his McLaren.
"We chose the McLaren because it's rare, it's constructed of carbon fiber and its one of the ultimate supercars," Van Vorst said.