Top Notch motoring to Pahrump for car show

Car shows in Pahrump are not new. For years the different festivals in town have featured car shows, but the Top Notch Car Show, according to promoter Tex Whitson, will be the largest car show to date in Pahrump.

The car show is being presented by Top Notch Repairs LLC and promoted by Whitson.

“We hope to attract up to 250 cars from all over the region, Whitson said. “To ensure a good turnout, Top Notch owners Marcel and Valerie Martel have donated $3,000 in prize money for the show and all proceeds made will be donated to the Nye County School District.”

Whitson added, “I can’t remember seeing a car show putting up prize money like that,” he said. “Most of the cars shows in this town have given out just trophies and gift certificates.”

The show will be at 3681 Bell Vista Road, which is where the Top Notch shop is located. The Pahrump car show will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Oct. 7.

Whitson says that the Martels own one of the biggest Mopar collections in the United States, with about 60 vehicles.

“That is how I convinced them to do this show,” Whitson said. “I told them it would be a good opportunity to show off some of their cars. I have been after them for two years to get this going where the public can see them. They have been successful in the valley and Marcel has done some nice restorations on these cars. He bought some really nice cars and has the belief it’s like banking.”

Whitson said the local car club, the Valley Cruisers, stopped doing the car shows and now Marcel wants to do one but he wants it done right.

“It’s a passion for us,” Valerie Martel said. “We have a large collection. We are surrounded by people and cars. And since there are no more car shows in town, we decided to do this. We are doing it because we are trying to do it right.”

Valerie Martel said they will put in 10 or 20 cars that will be part of the show.”

“Our cars will not be judged,” she said. “The pride of our collection, a 1970 Barracuda, is Marcel’s favorite. We have a beautiful 1947 Desoto and a 1968 Charger too. I like muscle cars over 30 years.”

Marcel Martel said his goal was “for Pahrump to be known for car shows.”

Doing it right for the Martels means having sound judges, good sponsors and promoting the show.

“We will be advertising in Arizona, California and Utah,” Valerie Martel said. “We would like people to get to know Pahrump as it is. Pahrump is not a hole. We have a beautiful community. We are trying to put together an event where it will be a get-together and having fun with music.”

She said there are a lot of businesses helping them.

Davis Entertainment will provide some rides for the kids, The Hubb is providing the drinks and Mom’s Diner is providing food.

As far as promoting, Whitson has done his share. He was Merle Haggard’s manager and also worked with Johnny Cash and Benny Binion. In fact, he said he was close enough to Binion that when Binion died, he left Whitson his Rolls Royce, which was then restored by Top Notch.

Whitson said all the good car shows have good judging, where all the judges are impartial and that’s what Top Notch wants to do.

“We needed judges with names,” he said. “We are trying to pick people that people identify with car judging.We have a couple of car clubs coming out from California. They will be here for the show. The head of a Mustang muscle club, Manny Aranda, will be a judge. John Ligenfelter is another judge and he is with a Corvette car club out of Phoenix, Arizona. Ray Kelso of the Dead Owl Car Club out of Ridgecrest, California will be another judge.”

Mom’s Diner owner Larry Chumley loves the idea of outside judges.

“I think what they are doing is a great idea, to have outside judges coming in to judge this show,” Chumley said. “Usually when there is a car show the judges should not have an entry. They can show off their car but there should not be a number on it. I went to a show in Arizona once where the judges all voted on their cars and they all took the trophies. I like the idea of bringing people from the outside. There are no cliches that way.”

Chumley now calls Pahrump his home but he said the reason he got to know Pahrump was through the car shows they used to have here.

“The Valley Cruisers used to put on a car show,” he said. “They called it the Over the Hump show. In fact, when I first came to this town, that is how I got acquainted with this town. I met the car guys. Last year was the last year and they said they were not going to do it anymore. I think we need a car show. I think we can draw people if we do it right. We draw people from other cities and states.”

Chumley thinks this show can be a big deal for all the businesses in town.

“If this works out, I can see this event growing into a three-day event,” Chumley said. “You will have people spending money in town, the eateries and the casinos.”

The show will be free for spectators to enter and costs $15 per entry, pre-car show and $20 per entry on the day of the show. In addition to prizes for the cars, there will also be raffles and entertainment. The Reeves Brothers, a local band, will be providing music.

The classes are as follows: Class 1, 1940 older stock; Class 1940, older modified; Class 3, 1950 – 1960 stock; Class 4, 1950-1960 modified; Class 5, 1970-1980 stock; Class 6, 1970-1980 modified.

Contact sports editor Vern Hee at

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