Hot rod festival fuels visitation

Published 4:16 am Wednesday, July 24, 2019

The inaugural OBX Rod and Custom Festival caught the attention of auto and truck enthusiasts from every state on the East Coast, with more than three hundred hot rods registered for display at the Soundside Event Site.

“I’ve had this dream of creating a ‘car week’ for at least six years now, ever since I took my OBX SS Monte Carlo onto the show circuit,” explains event organizer Michael Tillett. “I’ve been out there ever since, building my credibility as a serious car guy and laying the groundwork to finally show the car world my home, the Outer Banks.”

The numbers are still being crunched, but estimates show that the OBX Rod and Custom Festival will contribute several thousand dollars to both the Children and Youth Partnership of Dare County and the Dare County Motorsports charity group associated with the annual toy run. Hallmarks of the event included an organized police led cruise down beach road NC12 from Kitty Hawk to Nags Head with more than one hundred cars participating, a pop-up drive-in movie night featuring Smokey and the Bandit, discount admissions to participating area attractions and cruise-ins at sponsoring restaurants.

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Richard Quidley, owner of American Classic Garage in Kill Devil Hills, teamed up with Tillett to turn the dream into reality, bringing years of experience with previous bike weeks and charity motorsports events to the cause. “The way we planned out the OBX Rod and Custom Festival broke away from the normal template of sitting in a field or convention center all day. Our attendees were encouraged to get out and explore during organized cruise activities, and among smaller groups of friends,” said Quidley. “But the biggest feedback we got was that everyone felt welcomed, wherever they went. Welcome was the big buzzword.”

Richmond residents Ronald and Cathy Tatum enjoyed the community so much, they came back on vacation just two weeks later. “The biggest thing that’s different is the attitude of the people putting it on,” explains Ronald. “When you go to a restaurant, they’re glad to see you’re here. That shows they appreciate our time, our money and the effort to be here.”

“This was our big shot to put the Outer Banks on the map with the custom car community,” explains Sara Hole, who handled registrations, sponsorships and working with the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau to lease the Soundside Event site. “We are just a few locals with a passion for the community. I think the attendees were surprised that the main organizers were out there handing out welcome bags and name tags along with volunteers. It’s just how we do on the Outer Banks.”

Anyone interested in sponsoring next year’s event or registering their custom vehicle should contact Michael Tillett at 252-305-5789 or email Sara Hole at



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