Alpha Tau Omega fraternity at Mississippi State University hosted the second-annual ATO Car Show April 2 at Rick’s Café.
The philanthropy event brought support to both national and local charities: the V Foundation, an organization created by well-known basketball coach Jim Valvano to raise support for cancer research, and the Oktibbeha County Humane Society in Starkville.
The brothers of ATO stood atop the flatbeds of their trucks along Martin Luther King Jr. Drive East welcoming spectators, waving signs and giving parking directions.
For a $25 fee, vintage car owners filled the lot at Rick’s and enjoyed the company of curious Starkville residents.
Sean Washburn, a freshman broadcast meteorology major from Lake Zurich, Illinois, is serving as ATO’s philanthropy chair. He said that the event was unique in its ability to bring together car lovers from various communities for a great Sunday in Starkville.
“We’ve got people from Jackson, people from Memphis and more,” Washburn said. “...they heard about us, and what better way to spend a Sunday than to just come and check out some cars.”
He also said the fraternity’s goal was $5,000 and was confident in their ability to reach the amount.
When it came to Washburn’s favorite car on display, he was seeing red.
“I am a sucker for the Red Corvette sitting over there,” said Washburn, pointing at a cherry-red Corvette Sting Ray convertible that nearly matched his hair color. “It’s probably my favorite, and I happen to know the owner and her daughter.”
Local band Take Twelve supplied the tunes for the event, playing classic hits such as “Come Together” by The Beatles, “Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)” by Big & Rich and “Life is a Highway” by Rascal Flatts, a car show must-play.
Popular brunch food truck Easy Street Brunch served up sweet and savory dishes for spectators to purchase.
Vehicles of all make and models made an appearance, including a red Chevrolet Colorado LT with a bumper sticker which read, “Eat Beef, The West Wasn’t Won on Salad.”
There are many factors that can grow a person's fascination with cars, but it seems as if tradition was the greatest reason for participants of the ATO Car Show.
John Michael Varadi brought his blue 1967 Chevrolet Camaro, once belonging to his late father, for spectators to see.
“My dad bought it from a shop five years ago,” Varadi said. “He passed away, so now I bring it to show [people].”
For Columbus native Greg Swartz, watching his father drag race introduced him to vintage cars at a young age. He and his wife Dawn drove in with their black 1933 Ford 3 Window Coupe, perhaps being the oldest car on display.
He described his favorite details of the car.
“The [red] interior’s cool, suicide doors are cool, and the air conditioning is really nice,” Mr. Swartz said.
Dawn Swartz summarized her favorite part of owning several vintage cars.
“I like being the passenger,” Mrs. Swartz said.
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