Janesville's Back Bar to host annual charity car, truck and bike show Oct. 8

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Greg Little
Wednesday, October 4, 2017

JANESVILLE—Bob Kerman knows how to draw a crowd.

As owner of The Back Bar, a music venue catering to hard rock music fans, the Chicago native understands the importance of both promotion and giving his audience what it wants.

On Sunday, he'll do that again—but with a different type of heavy metal.

From 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, rain or shine, the bar will host its eighth annual charity car, truck and bike show. Entrants can register in the morning, and vehicles will be parked for display near the adjoining Back of the Yards Softball Complex behind the bar at 1901 Beloit Ave., Janesville.

Much like the music he books, Kerman believes he has a good feel for what car show enthusiasts want.

“I've been to hundreds of car shows and had cars that received trophies, so I get the ballpark feel of what people in the Janesville, Beloit, Rockford area want to see in their trophies,” he said. “They want to know they can get into a class that isn't so overcrowded they have zero chance.”

That's not the case here, as awards are given out on a sliding scale. For example, while all categories are allotted three trophies, final awards are determined by class size. If one class has 50 entries and another has 10, the larger of the two might get a few more trophies and the smaller a few less to keep percentages fair.

Vehicles will be categorized by judges, who will select from these classes: Antique Pre-50, Classic 50-69, Classic 70-89, Modern 90-Current, Truck and 4-Wheel, High Perform, Hot Rods, Major Modified, Special Interest, Foreign, Stock Bike, Modified Bike and Sport Bike.

All vehicles must register, no trailered vehicles will be allowed, and trunks and hoods must be left open to be judged.

Along with getting their dash plaques, entrants will compete for people's choice awards in car, truck, bike and special interest categories. There also will be trophies for “Bob's Best,” “Diane's Best,” “Committee's Best,” “Longest Distance” and “Loudest Pipes.”

Trophies and accolades aside, at the forefront of the event is the effort to gather donations for local nonprofits. All proceeds from each show go to charity and, to date, the show has collected more than $10,000 for different causes, Kerman said.

“My brother's brother-in-law was (comedian) Andy Kaufman. When Andy died, his manager felt guilty about all he had wrapped up in money and fame, so he started 'Comic Relief' to benefit the homeless,” he said. “I picked up on that, and Diane (Kerman's wife) and I always donated to the homeless ... a lot years ago, but less recently.”

But the couple didn't stop giving.

“We decided the animals in this town deserved a cut of the action, so about five or six years ago, when the local animal shelter was robbed and lost a lot of money, we split the proceeds and gave half to ECHO and half to the Southern Wisconsin Humane Society.”

Using a car show to raise money was an easy call for Kerman, who also is a car enthusiast and collector.

“I've got too many cars, about 12 or 14 last time I counted,” he said. “I usually bring five of my favorites out, have them detailed and show them in an exhibition together. It's kind of neat.”

For those looking for more than cars, there should be plenty of entertainment options. The show also will feature live music from Billy Youngblood & the Smokin' Gorillas and a DJ, concession stands, raffles (including 50/50s) and door prizes. Motorcycle stunt rider Ryan Suchanek of Vertical Mischief is slated to perform a series of three 20-minute exhibition rides.

And don't forget about the vendors. Kerman welcomes businesses and charitable groups of any kind to come out and display their products and services. They need not be gearhead-specific.

“I don't care if you sell windows, come on out if you want,” he said. “People with cars also have houses.”

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