Once a year downtown Wilmington becomes a sea of hot rods, vintage trucks, sports coups, and just a bunch of cool cars to ogle over for the weekend. We’re talkin’ Rims on the River, which will be back again May 18-19. While the classic car show on Saturday is bound to drive (all puns intended) thousands of people up and down Front Street, there are a few other happenings to get revved up about. Ready, set, go…
Saturday’s car show starts at 11 a.m. and new this year is the Hibiske Insurance Group Tent, which will house the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 from Hendrick Motorsports all day Saturday. The car has been used in multiple NASCAR races but has since been retired and updated with new sheet metal for public appearances and photo-ops, just like this.
“Even though the car has been retired from racing, it still remains fully operational,” notes Adam Litton, president of Hibiske Insurance Group. “We are planning to start up the car each hour during the event. This special treat will be weather-permitting, as the cars are very temperamental, depending on weather.”
The ZL1 can clock more than 200 miles per hour. Folks can get a sense for the ride in Hibiske’s Racing Simulator inside the car trailer, free for event-goers to test their driving skills. “We are hoping for another special surprise,” Litton hints.
Back again for its third year is the Perfectly Pinned Up contest and fundraiser on Saturday as well. The theme is “Garage Pinup.” Think sassy ‘50s girls posing next to a classic car with a wrench in hand or skirt haphazardly caught in the car door, according to Perfectly Pinned Up’s Brittany Jean.
“Each lady is so special in her own way,” Jean says of the 10 contestants. “Miss Belle Fatale and Mrs. Patty Cake are actually coming from South Carolina to participate! Anna Luna and Mina are local to Wilmington and were actually a part of my very first contest. Mae Risque has won titles before in other pin-up contests, while Miss Ginger Star is making this her very last contest. Lexi Love, Victory Sunshine, Annabell Black, and Blondie De’Ville are all from different parts of North Carolina, and I just can’t wait to meet all of them.”
Monies raised through this year’s pin-up contest will go to the NC Disaster Relief Fund. Wilmingtonians are still feeling the after effects from Hurricane Florence last fall, so the fund helps their recovery process. Throughout the day, contestants have about three hours to walk throughout Rims on the River to promote the cause and collect donations.
“I wanted to select a charity that would help its local people from the damage that Florence left behind,” Jean says, “especially since so many families are still recovering.”
Each dollar collected also acts as another point added to each contestant’s overall score from judges. Audiences can help choose 2019’s Perfect Pinup Wilmington while typically raising around $1,000 for the cause (learn more at www.PerfectlyPinnedUp.com).
Besides being a community event for locals and visitors alike, Rims also serves as a fundraiser for the Downtown Business Alliance. More over, from a downtown economic perspective, festival organizer Chris Andrews estimates about a $250,000 increase in revenue throughout the weekend. While Mother Nature hasn’t always been kind to Rims in the past, Andrews moved the event from April to May after a few years of rainouts.
“Let’s just say [weather] still remains a challenge,” he quips. “If there’s chance of storms, we will make a call by the Thursday before the event. . . . We realize that there’s many participants and spectators that are visiting with us from out of town, and we’d like to give them enough notice that they cancel or postpone their reservations for hotels, restaurants, etc. . . . Let’s keep our fingers crossed!”
Saturday’s car show will wrap up after awards presented at approximately 4 p.m. For more details, visit rimsontheriver.com.