Thank you for your interest in the Ridler Award. This page briefly summarizes the man behind the award’s name, lists past winners and includes a general guideline for those interested in competing for the award.
The Detroit Autorama Ridler Award is Presented By
*** 2014 Ridler Award Winner!!! ***
J.F. Launier, Osoyoos, BC 1964 Buick Riviera
About Don Ridler
Don Ridler was a man with a very competitive spirit, excelling in athletics in high school and later at Michigan State University. His many achievements eventually landed him in the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame. After college, Don coached Lawrence Tech’s basketball team and served as Athletic Director in the 40’s. After games, Don would contract entertainment such as Tommy Dorsey and Glen Miller for dances. During this period, Don also produced the Michigan State Fair Grandstand shows and handled public relations for horse tracks in the Detroit area.
In the 1950’s, the producers of Autorama decided they needed promotional help to take the event to the next level, and turned to Don Ridler. With the help of Don’s creativity and professionalism, car enthusiasts flocked to the Coliseum at the Michigan State Fairgrounds to see some of the wildest hot rods that cruised the streets of the Motor City, and were entertained by acts such as Little Anthony and the Imperials and the Big Bopper.
Don Ridler passed away in 1963 at the age of 54. It was immediately decided that an award be created to honor his memory. Don’s forté had always been his creativity. Therefore, it was decided that the award would honor individuals who are equally creative in building cars. The award, geared to honor new creations, is only eligible to cars shown for the first time.
Don Ridler was the first professional promoter hired by the Michigan Hot Rod Association to assist them with the fledgling Autorama in the fifties. With Don’s creativity and professional approach in promoting, Autorama was able to grow tremendously, and eventually move to its present home at Cobo Center in 1961. In 1963, Autorama decided to honor Don Ridler, who had prematurely passed away, with an award given in his name.
Originally the award was given to the Best Vehicle shown for the first time. Over the last forty-nine years the award has evolved to better conform to new ideas, changing designs and concepts. Today it emphasizes creativity, engineering and workmanship. Anyone building a vehicle for Ridler competition should post these words on their garage wall. The vehicle that best represents these three areas will win the Ridler Award.
In addition to the above judging guidelines, there are a few hard and fast rules, with no exceptions.
The vehicle must make its first public showing at the Detroit Autorama. Showing the vehicle at any indoor or outdoor show or any unique part of the entry, i.e. frame, engine or body, will make it ineligible for the competition. Please feel free to contact us with any questions about eligibility.
Realizing that car owners and builders may need some form of exposure to develop interest or to gain sponsorship, vehicles contending for the Ridler Award may have limited exposure as follows: Magazines or video of the building process are allowed, only of individual components such as chassis only, engine only, body panels being built, but not assembled. Photos, internet, magazine, TV coverage or video of the entry in its completed form, with or without paint, interior or engine are not permitted. If the coverage of the entry gives the appearance of a total or completed car, painted or not, the vehicle entry will be disqualified from the Ridler Award competition. Additionally, no articles may be written about the build project; allowable coverage is limited to photos with captions only.
The vehicle must prove to be minimally operable. It must start, move forward and backward under its own power, turn left and right and stop using the brake pedal, before it can be placed on the floor for display. Keep in mind that these guidelines are minimum qualifiers. Operational functionality is something the judges will look at.
Once the final Ridler Contenders have been determined, the field will be narrowed to eight finalists, which will be referred to as the Pirelli Tire Great 8. Because of the number of entries contending, the process of elimination will begin on Thursday evening after move-in has been completed. Entries do not need to be 100% set-up, but should be to a state that they can be evaluated fairly. The Pirelli Tire Great 8 Finalists are notified Friday morning and introduced at the Ridler’s Ball on Friday evening.
If an entry is selected as a Pirelli Tire Great 8 Ridler Finalist, the car will not be eligible for any Autorama awards involving class judging and special awards. Each of the Pirelli Tire Great 8 will, however, receive a cash award of $1,000 paid on Friday evening at the Ridler’s Ball. Owners and builders should also keep in mind that they will be asked during the weekend to open and close their vehicle to be checked for fit and finish, and to make sure everything is operational.
There will be a Pirelli Tire Great 8 Ridler Contenders meeting Saturday evening for the builders and owners. This meeting is an opportunity to meet the other finalists, the judging staff and ask questions on how your car will be judged.
If you have any questions, please feel free to call (586) 771-7110 between the hours of 9am-5pm EST or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Detroit Autorama is one event produced annually by Championship Auto Shows, Inc., North America’s largest producer of indoor hot rod shows. The Detroit Autorama is hosted by the Michigan Hot Rod Association.