Ignite Your Engines - 54th Auto Show Revs Up Midland


Header caption: Chuck Elledge, a senior from Coal City, Illinois, served as general chair of the auto show. Allison Brown didn’t mind making a monkey of herself to call attention to the Jaguar and Land Rover automobiles she was tasked with promoting.

“Any opportunity to dress up and be crazy, I love it,” said the senior from Battle Creek, Mich., wearing a monkey costume as she prowled the walkway of this fall’s Northwood International Auto Show. Music from the “Tarzan” movie soundtrack played in the background, faux foliage sprouted up around the vehicles, and a hidden special effects machine sprayed out a cloud of primordial mist.

Now in its 54th year, the Northwood University International Auto Show (NUIAS) continues to be a signature event for the university and the Midland community. This year more than 65 manufacturers and 500 vehicles were on display the weekend of Oct. 6, 2017.

With the theme “Ignite,” the 2017 show attracted more than 60,000 visitors. An entirely student-run event, the teams manage everything from planning to logistics to booth design to visitor interaction.

This year’s general chair was Chuck Elledge, a senior from Coal City, Ill., studying automotive marketing and management.

“I got the awesome privilege of overseeing the operation of the auto show,” Elledge said. “You have to think of everything, and then you have to deal with anything. And it’s never the things you think that will go wrong that go wrong.”

Nick Dubs was captain of the BMW team. He and the other 14 team members went with a dignified look for their display. Students wore suits as they greeted visitors, and Sinatra songs played in the background. The main attraction was a high-tech BMW i8 hybrid, on loan from a dealer in Iowa.

“This is perfect training for the real world,” said Dubs, a sophomore from from Owendale, Mich., studying automotive marketing and management. “It’s like being a manager of a dealership. We’re not allowed to sell a vehicle, but if people are interested we can give them a dealer’s information.”

Two-thirds of this year’s Northwood students took part in the auto show in one way or another, Elledge said, further proof that the impact of the auto show extends far beyond the event itself or the thousands of people it touches.