Before Friday, February 10th, I hadn't been to a World of Wheels since I was a young child. We're talking a long time. Let's just put it at that. Since I didn't pick up a concert shoot for Friday night, I decided to make a return visit to the event as it, once again, came to the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center in Birmingham, Alabama.
I got there relatively early on Friday night, but there was still a decent crowd out to enjoy the various custom cars and, for several in attendance, to get in line to see WWE superstar AJ Styles. The World of Wheels has a tradition of bringing various celebrities for autograph signings, and wrestler appearances have always been some of the most popular instances.
In addition to Styles, there were celebrities and personalities associated with automobile television programs and car culture in general. They too commanded a lot of attention from the Birmingham attendees. The assortment of Star Wars characters also were a big hit with the audience, especially the children.
I didn't get in line for an autograph or anything during this visit to the World of Wheels. That's never really been my thing. No, I wanted to just walk around the convention space and just kind of lose myself in the event and atmosphere. I made multiple loops around the floor space and snapped photos to try and convey the full scope of the event. Those include shots of the cars, the crowd, the various vendors, and just the general feel of what it is like to be at a World of Wheels event.
I wanted to take it all in, the sights, the sounds, and the smells. The sights of the various sleek and shiny muscle cars, the sounds of classic rock over the P.A. system, and the smells of concession stand nachos all meshed into a pleasant sensory experience. I live for what when it comes to doing event photography of this scale.
I wanted to understand what made people come out to this particular activity on a Friday night especially since most of my Fridays are usually spent photographing a concert or similar event. These events, though, always fascinate me from a slice of life perspective. I enjoy approaching it like the proverbial fly on the wall. How people choose to entertain themselves, especially on the weekends, is something I'm exploring in detail this particular year.
I am not a car person, but I can understand the draw and appeal of an event like this. There is an overwhelming sense of nostalgia present when it comes to an event like the World of Wheels. It is not just a nostalgia for one's youth when, say, that person might have had one of the model cars on display at the event, but a nostalgia for a simpler time in general. Whether or not that time actually existed can be debated, but the want and desire is there for some.
It was still an escape for some, and an opportunity to spend a few hours with friends and family to see some well crafted and beautiful machines on display. Even for a few hours, an escape like that is needed for all of us from time to time.