Trans Am Nationals

Trans Am Nationals Story
This article was published in the Dayton Daily News on Aug. 19, 2015
By Chuck Manker

As awards are presented to winners at the 31st annual Trans Am Nationals car show Aug. 30 at the Fairborn Holiday Inn and the Homewood Suites hotels, one of them will be A Special Wish Foundation – Dayton Chapter trophy winner chosen by a child who has received a wish from the organization.

Some 350 Pontiac Firebird’s of all models will be on display the weekend of Aug. 28 – 30 hosted by the Trans Am Club of America that calls the Dayton area home. Car owners will vie for trophies in 30 entry classes plus special awards like the one from A Special Wish Foundation. The car club says the event is one of the largest all-Pontiac shows in the country. Cars come from all over the United States and Canada.

“The Special Wish winner is the child’s pick. One of us will take the child around on a golf cart to look at all the cars, and they pick one they like; it’s just a personal choice,” said Jerry Minor, club president and chairperson of the Trans Am Nationals event. “When we have the awards ceremony, the child presents the trophy to the owner of the car.”

Minor, who said he has been club president “for more years than I want to admit to”, became chairperson beginning last year after taking over from Sue Emmel, who was chair for some 20 years or so, he said.

The Trans Am Club of America has helped to support A Special Wish Foundation since 1998 by donating some of the proceeds from the event. Over the years, the club has donated $59,000, said Dave Seyer, executive director of the Dayton chapter of the foundation.

“When an organization like Trans Am Nationals partners with A Special Wish Foundation for many years, it becomes a reliable source of income we can use to make sure we continue to support our mission of granting wishes,” Seyer said. “Over the years Trans Am Nationals alone has allowed us to grant at least 16 wishes. We’re very honored and grateful to have their commitment to A Special Wish Foundation and the children we serve.”

The club was formed in 1978 to encourage the use and preservation of the Pontiac Firebird Trans Am, according to the club website, www.angelfire.com/yt3/tanats. It has members across the country and even one in Australia.

Spectators are welcome at the event in Fairborn that will take place in the parking lot between the Holiday Inn and Homewood Suites, and other nearby lots. There is no charge for spectators, who can park in a lot designated for them, Minor said. Spectators will see “lots of cars” on display, he said. The Holiday Inn will provide food and beverages for sale.

There are seminars Saturday such as a history of the Firebird Trans Am as told by former General Motors employees. Another feature will be a “Winners Row” where 27 class winners from the 2014 show will be displayed.

Also on Saturday is a judging seminar where the judging criteria are explained to participants. Judging is Sunday at 11 a.m. followed by the awards ceremony about 4:30 p.m.

“We have volunteer judges from other car clubs,” Minor said. They are not necessarily Firebird clubs, but they know cars, he explained.

General Motors produced the Pontiac Firebird between 1967 and 2002. Minor drives a 1973 Trans Am with a rare Brewster Green color, but he will not enter his car in the Trans Am Nationals event since he is the chairperson. He does show the car at other events.

The weekend event also includes silent and live auctions with items such as T-shirts, hats, gift baskets, memorabilia and gift certificates from auto parts vendors.

There are off site events. On Friday night there will be a “mini cruise” to Quaker Steak & Lube in Fairborn. “A bunch of the participants and cars will hang out there for a while, and then we have a bigger cruise Saturday night to Tipp City,” Minor said.

The Nationals website, www.tanationals.com, has information on all activities for the Aug. 28-30 event.

Since 1983, A Special Wish Foundation – Dayton Chapter has granted more than 1,600 wishes to children and adolescents from birth through 20 years of age in Montgomery, Darke, Mercer, Miami, Greene and Shelby counties who are diagnosed with a life-threatening illness.

Go to www.specialwish.org if you would like to volunteer or contribute in other ways.

Chuck Manker is a member of the board of directors of A Special Wish Foundation – Dayton Chapter.