Chicago Auto Show Kicks Off Special Summer Event With Outdoor Space

Clarissa Hinton and her husband had attended the Chicago Auto Show together for over 20 years.

So she was determined to be there Thursday when a modified auto show opened – postponed from its usual February date – and Hinton made sure her husband was there, too, in a way.

Robert Jay Stone was 66 when he died on St. Patrick’s Day, but Hinton brought his ashes to McCormick Place, rolling it in a wire basket.

“His mind continues. I feel this urn has his spirit, and I wanted him to relive it with me. We used to get together and pick whatever cars we wanted because cars have always been our thing, ”said Hinton, 70, recalling how the couple first met at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Clarissa Hinton takes a photo of her husband’s urn at the Chicago Auto Show at the McCormick Place West Building on Thursday.
Nichole Shaw / Sun-Times

For this year’s one-time move in July, the show was downsized, staged in the West Building as well as outside on Indiana Avenue. It runs until Monday evening.

Roy and Nancy Durbin from Oakwood came to the Summer Show to take a look at new models of Ford electric cars and to celebrate Mr. Durbin’s 76th birthday.

“We have been coming here for 25 years,” said Mr. Durbin, a Vietnam War veteran. “We’re so used to being in the other building that we had a hard time finding where it was. But I’m glad to be here because every year the cars get a lot cooler and the designs are awesome.

For many, the return of the series was a symbol of hope and normalcy; it is the biggest event at McCormick Place since the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions. Many attendees were maskless, snapping photos of their favorite car models, slipping into rich leather seats and checking trunk space.

“It feels good to come back and dive into the world, because I can share this with my son for the first time,” said Chris Hall, the show’s sponsor for 10 years and father of a 7-year-old. . Caleb. “I think all of the home education and homeworking has given me and my son pandemic fatigue, so it really feels good to get out here and be active.”

The new venue is about half the size of the show’s usual interior space in McCormick’s north and south buildings, which totaled 1.2 million square feet, according to show spokesperson Mark Bilek.

The biggest indoor attraction was Jeep’s off-road obstacle course; queues were around half an hour Thursday morning.

“I can finally check this on the to-do list,” said Penny Fuller, a first-time visitor to Oakwood. “You don’t realize how lucky you are to be here after the worst of the pandemic until you walk in. “

A Ford Bronco is tested at the Chicago Auto Show in front of the McCormick West building on Indiana Avenue in the South Loop on Thursday, July 15, 2021.

On Thursday, a Ford Bronco was tested at the Chicago Auto Show in front of McCormick Place.
Anthony Vazquez / Sun-Times

The new interactive space outside included a rival of this Jeep course – guests could also navigate a six-part obstacle course in a new Ford Bronco.

“It looks a lot smaller compared to previous shows, but I love the outdoor experience,” said Jonny Lopez, 27, who traveled from Indiana to attend. “I’ve been a Ford Bronco fan since the time they came out in 1966. So when I saw the new one come out I had to come in and really see what the off-road capability looked like. “

The show, produced by the Chicago Automobile Trade Association, is expected to attract about 30,000 visitors per day, Bilek said.

Tickets are sold only online and with preferred attendance time options to maintain limited capacity for the safety of guests. Evenings include an outdoor street festival from 6.30 p.m. to 10 p.m. with live entertainment.

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to correct information on the 2020 Chicago Auto Show.