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  • Writer's pictureClarice MacGarvey

Driving Exmore's Annual Auto Shows: Roy O. Ballard

It was a 1930s-era vehicle sitting in his family's yard in Exmore that first sparked in Roy Ballard what would become a lifelong love and fascination with automobiles. At the age of ten, he would settle in behind the wheel of that old car and imagine driving. His father, a carpenter, typically choose station wagons to carry his workloads, but taught Roy the different styles and models of cars on the road at the time. That early appreciation for the distinct lines and performance exhibited by the popular brands was something Roy built on to establish his events.

His very first car shows (1980-84) were actually Truck Ins, attracting 350 vans each year and earning editorial coverage in Trucking Magazine. In the 1990s, Roy presented a car show in Exmore, on Main Street. followed by more car shows at the historic Railroad Building at the end of Bank Avenue. When the Townwide Yard Sale was introduced as an annual event, Roy was appointed chairperson, subsequently relocating the Exmore Auto Show to the Town Park in 2014. The 2022 event would have marked eight consecutive years for the Auto Show at the park location if COVID had not imposed a two-year moratorium on large gatherings. The annual display of cruisers, muscle cars, trucks, hot rods, rat rods and other special interest vehicles---including tractors---typically attracts hundreds of exhibitors and car enthusiasts from across Virginia.

This is a juried show, with the majority of the trophies for AACA and Fun Classes custom made by Roy and each one unique. In addition to awarding "one-of-a-kind trophies for one-of-a-kind vehicles", Roy says that saving money on trophies means having more to give to event beneficiaries. This year, it is the Boys & Girls Club.

So, if you hear engines revving and the sounds of live music on Saturday, October 15, it is the Exmore Auto Show rolling back into the Town Park, larger and more expansive than ever, thanks to Roy Ballard's unrelenting passion for the beauty and power of classic cars.

Roy, a native of Exmore, is a licensed VA contractor and owner/operation of RB Building. His other passion is Disc Golf.

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