Casino Entertainment

Hot August Nights brings the love – and lots of classic cars

Classic car enthusiasts fill Virginia Street in downtown Reno, Nev., for Hot August Nights on Aug. 5, 2006. This year’s event starts this weekend,
Classic car enthusiasts fill Virginia Street in downtown Reno, Nev., for Hot August Nights on Aug. 5, 2006. This year’s event starts this weekend, Reno Gazette-Journal file

The streets of Reno, Sparks and Virginia City, Nev., will begin filling up with some cool sights by Tuesday and getting clogged Thursday through Sunday. Hot August Nights remains the largest classic car event in the country, a celebration of America’s love affair with the automobile with a heavy atmosphere of nostalgia.

Practically every casino-hotel in the area will have their parking lots full of participants showing off their cars. That is ultimately what it’s all about. There are special events galore and a multitude of show-’n’-shines, but nothing sums up the event quite as well as a chance to gawk at beautiful machines and talk with their owners.

Add a swap meet, drag races, the Big Boy’s Toy Store (full of accessories), auto cross and drifting competitions, and old-fashioned entertainment, and it’s a jam-packed six days. When it’s over, you can hear a collective sigh of relief by the locals who will get their roads back (although not quite as large a sigh as will take place next month when Street Vibrations, the motorcycle event, ends).

The free entertainment this year has finally moved past the Platters and Herman’s Hermits. After all, there aren’t that many performers from the ’50s and ’60s still out there.

There are two stages of free entertainment, one in Victorian Square in Sparks, the other in the Grand Sierra parking lot. There are plenty of local and tribute bands, but the highlights are Thursday night’s performance by Johnny Rivers at the Grand Sierra; the Friday night headliner Rick Springfield at the Grand Sierra; and Saturday night’s double punch of Pablo Cruise at Victorian Square and Joan Jett and the Blackhearts at the Grand Sierra. (All will play at 8:15 p.m.)

New this year is the Vintage Trailer Component to show off the creativity of campers and trailers made in or before 1976. They will be located in Reno’s San Rafael Park and be participating in open cruises as well as the culminating event, the big parade down Reno’s Virginia Street on Sunday, Aug. 13, at 10 a.m. (See the full schedule at

In other entertainment this week:

Everybody has a favorite in the Terry Fator ventriloquism lineup, whether it is Wilson the Impersonating Turtle, the booming voice of Emma Taylor, or the Elvis-impersonating Maynard Tompkins. They all take some time off from their Mirage home in Las Vegas to play Friday night, Aug. 4, at Thunder Valley (8 p.m.; $39.95-$84.95;

There’s plenty of soul to be had when Thunder Valley hosts Soul Fest ’17 on Saturday, Aug. 5, featuring the O’Jays, Morris Day and the Time, SOS, and GQ (5:30 p.m.; $45.95-$159.95). And The Stylistics, who had 12 consecutive top-10 hits in the early ’70s, will be a hot ticket Saturday, Aug. 5, at Cache Creek (8 p.m.; $35-$59;