Starved Rock Nationals Car Show

Entrance to Skydive Chicago and Starved Rock Nationals
Ariel image of car show at Skydive Chicago
Aerial image of Starved Rock Nationals at Skydive Chicago

For several years at Skydive Chicago we have provided the venue for a small car show and celebration event in June to raise money and awareness for the Starved Rock Regional Center for kids. So it was not completely out of the blue when in the fall of 2020, the La Salle County Street Cars group contacted Skydive Chicago to use our planes as props in some promotional pictures with a few unique cars and trucks for a different car show set at another small nearby airport. During the visit Rook suggested they should come do next years’ car show at Skydive Chicago! With plenty of grass areas and active skydiving operations, the La Salle County Street Cars (LCSC) could provide not only a new car show experience, but with something of an air show to go along with it. 

Fall 2020 promotional image

So in January 2021 after some discussion, Dominick Crum, the leading spokesperson for LCSC announced on the group’s Facebook LIVE that they were going to be hosting a much bigger national event on August 14-15 at Skydive Chicago! What a great partnership this could be! Ramping up the event significantly with big sponsors and nationwide advertising however left the organizers and venue having trouble estimating the number of people that would be in attendance. Because it was a new event quickly grown to a national scale, neither LCSC nor Skydive Chicago had any numbers to go off of for this event. People were clearly excited to make it happen, however, and La Salle County Street Cars kept stepping up to make sure event services were covered for participants. 

The South side of the hangar specialized in the truck category. Saturday evening provided for a great photo opportunity!

To prepare for the event, Dominick and Joe Rose, the Overall Event Coordinator, set out to learn what they could from other big car shows. Looking at things beyond the cars as a spectators, what they were looking for were logistics. What they found? Things like trash, bathrooms, and other not so shiny amenities frequently get over looked or under prepared for. They knew this was not the sort of show they wanted to host, and were diligent in recruiting a strong team of event workers to cover everything from trash, to lighting, to security, to food, and to bathrooms. It was well worth it with a smooth and clean operation people were proud to be a part of or sad to miss.

Four food trucks, one beer trailer, and a Tiki bar were available throughout the weekend.

Each year the La Salle County Street Cars chooses a population to honor and raise money for during their event. In 2020, the local show was dedicated to police and emergency services, with proceeds going to Kids for Christmas and all active and past service workers received free free food during the event. This big multi-day event at Skydive Chicago in 2021 was in honor of all military personnel with event proceeds donated to Folds of Honor and Kids for Christmas. All military personnel were also provided with free food and drink. Each day over the weekend at noon the National Anthem was sung by a current service member and on Sunday, August 15th skydiver Josh Colby landed with an American Flag during the song as an additional visual ceremony to display respect. 

There were an estimated 500 cars registered by the end of the weekend, with over 75 classes of awards given out. All types of automobiles were there including classic cars, muscle cars, sport cars, imports, trucks, side-by-sides, exotics, and even motorcycles. On Friday night there was a cruise around the town of Ottawa where collectors were able to show off their vehicles to the delight of locals and the vehicle owners alike. On both Saturday and Sunday there was also a dynonometer, or “dyno” for short on site for owners to test the amount of torque and rotational speed (rpm) their vehicle could produce. 

Other exciting event activities included a 50-50 raffle which drew $12000 in donations, and $6000 in prize money. Rook Nelson, Owner of Skydive Chicago was brought up to the presentation so that his 2 year old son, Rocket, could draw the winning raffle ticket. After much shaking of the taco piñata filled with raffle tickets, Rocket picked out two tickets with one quickly removed from his hand. The remaining raffle winning ticket belonged to… Rocket Nelson! Of all of the tickets, what crazy chances! Right away Rook donated the winnings back to allow for a redraw, won by another lucky spectator.

Sunday evening provided for a few great staged images on the runway.

Spectators had several options from the attending food trucks for lunch and dinner and drink to round out the day into the evening. On Saturday, show attendees and skydivers alike were invited to stay to enjoy live music from the local band AbbyNormal. Skydive Chicago kept the stage set up from the Summerfest boogie, providing a perfect platform for the band to do their show right next to the Tiki bar and pond, with ample space on the deck for dancing. The show was from 6 to 10 pm, allowing for plenty of time to sway to the music, but keep the campground residents undisturbed and everyone in bed early enough for a bright wake up call Sunday morning.

Evening libations and entertainment with Abbynormal at the Tiki Bar

We could not have asked for better weather for the event! It was a perfect sunny and low 80s, with some heat in the sun and nice break in the shade. The rain from the days leading up to the event had a chance to dry out so the lawn remained intact. If anyone wanted to cool off in the campground swimming pond, they could, which it seemed several handfuls of visitors took advantage of. 

Vendors set up for Starved Rock Nationals

Overall an estimated 3000 people attended Starved Rock Nationals over the course of the weekend. For the first year of this event in the Ottawa area, everyone seemed to be very happy with the success and turnout. With the space on the grounds and the layout of the event, the influx in number of visitors was noticeable, but only served to enhance the experience for Skydive Chicago customers. Parking was abundant and and well marked, and there were no traffic delays on the road coming in. 

Chad Staerkel Flies the American Flag during the Starved Rock Nationals

“What makes me happy is all the people that traveled to it. Every hotel was booked within a 30 mile radius”- Joe

Best of Show Original 

Gerry Couch

1970 Hemi Cuda

Best of Show Modified 

Bill Mucci 

1932 Ford High Boy


Best Lifted Ford

Josh Waugh

2018 Ford F-250

Best Lifted Dodge

Matt Kostellic

2016 Ram 2500

Best Lifted GM

Matt Budevea

2005 Chevy 2500

Renegade Choice

Jack Capatani

1957 Chevy


Fury Choice 

Josh Marco 

2017 Ford F-350

Best Display

1947 Chevy Pulling Truck Ogre

Longest Distance Traveled

Karen Clement

Denton, Maryland

844 miles, 18 hours 34 minutes

Best Paint

Kevin Poole

2018 Corvette

LCSC Choice

Todd & Patty Bennett

Chevy 3100 Orange

Fans Choice Car

Don Mondhau

1952 Chevy Skyline

Fans Choice Truck

Jeremy Merch

Ram 2500 Limited

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