Countdown to Carlisle!

Like Memorial Day and the Fourth of July, the annual Carlisle Chrysler Nationals is a summer tradition that brings thousands of people together that share a common bond. The common bond is that they’re all passionate Mopar® gearheads whose love of the brand transcends everything. And while they have slight differences, be it old-school muscle with big block V8 engines, or modern machines that can rip the quarter-mile in under 10 seconds right off the showroom floor, they just love everything that is Mopar. Carlisle Chrysler Nationals is like the Woodstock of the Mopar Community but instead of “Peace, Love and Music,” it’s more like “People, Passion and Mopars.” Unlike the infamous music festival of 1969, attempts to rekindle the magic of Max Yasgur’s dairy farm in 1994 and 1999 became the world’s biggest dumpster fires. For the Carlisle Chrysler Nationals, their recipe of great organization planning combined with “thematic” indoor displays, massive show fields, vast swap meets and even burnout contests have made this a Mopar lovers’ destination ever since the show’s inception way back in 1991.  

The Carlisle Chrysler Nationals show manager that keeps this massive event hitting on eight and in the groove is Ed Buczeskie. He’s a seasoned veteran of running this yearly event and just one of Carlisle’s many dedicated staff that do it for more than just a paycheck. Since Ed has been a Mopar guy his whole life and owns a 1967 Plymouth Belvedere powered by Mopar 5.7L HEMI® crate engine, he’s one of us. He gets the hobby and the mindset of the enthusiast who has probably burned vacation time while pleading with his spouse to attend the Carlisle Chrysler Nationals. Maybe that’s why Ed puts his heart and soul into making this the best Mopar event on the planet. To be successful at his job, Ed is part orchestra conductor, part ringmaster and part magician. He needs to be for the show to go off without a hiccup. Ed wears many hats but maintains his cool and consistent demeanor; as the show inches closer, his phone won’t stop ringing and his email is blowing up. 

“Every year, the enthusiasm and passion for this show from the participants just keeps growing and that’s what makes the show bigger and better each year. The featured vehicles in Buildings T and Y are over the top this year. The High School Mopars display is a real throwback and it’s been a real treat to see what some people were driving while they were still in school. I’ve been working with Ralph Ronzello for over a year on the ‘Color Me Gone’ 60th anniversary display. We will have the 1963, ’64 and ’65 cars all on display. Ralph owns the ’63 Plymouth and the ’65 Dodge, while the Chrysler Museum owns the ’64 Dodge. This gathering spawned a racecar display within Building T that’s pretty impressive,” said Ed.

While the massive show field on the fairground’s rolling hill has a huge variety of vehicles attendees can check out, it’s Carlisle’s ‘Building T’ that houses the real primo rides. “Like in years past, we’ll have some awesome cars for people to check out. This will include a diverse display ranging from a ’69 Daytona that scored a perfect 1,000 points at the Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals (MCACN), to the star car of the 1990s TV show ‘Viper.’ This show ran from 1994 to 1999, first on NBC and then in syndication. The plot focused on a federal task force that used a red Viper RT/10 to fight crime. If you prefer E-bodies, we have two with factory orange houndstooth interiors and a ’71 ’Cuda convertible with a Hellephant under the hood. Honestly, every car in Building T is pretty special,” noted Ed. “If you cruise over to Building Y, you’ll see a little bit of everything from the malaise era in the building, on the show field and in the complementary tent display; they’re all together. In my opinion, the ‘Malaise Era’ still produced some of the coolest Mopars and we’ll have them. Volare and Aspen Super Coupes, Petty Kit Cars, Magnums and Miradas still carried the torch for V8 muscle, but we’ll also have some serious luxury, sporty compacts, as well as a Dodge Warlock pickup truck and a Plymouth Trailduster. Several of these cars are seriously low-mileage survivors.”

The Carlisle Chrysler Nationals will also bring back the Mopar Collectibles Display in Building R. That building will be transformed into a Mopar-lover’s dream man cave. To mix it up this year, everything on the one side of the building will actually be for sale. If you’re looking to start a Mopar man cave or add to your current one, you can get ideas and even make some purchases. In this area, old posters, toys, vintage Direct Connection point-of-purchase signs, old Dodge and Plymouth slot car sets, and just about anything else will be on display for enthusiasts to go “I had one just like that when I was a kid, but my mom threw it out!” Yep, the Carlisle Chrysler Nationals brings all aspects of the Mopar lifestyle together in one location and that’s another reason it’s been one of the best Mopar shows on the planet. 

Carlisle is also known for its massive swap meet, vendor midway and used car corral. We’re convinced one could build a complete small block or big block from the parts found in the swap meet. Combine that with the many project cars you’ll see dotted in the perfect symmetrical aisles that line Carlisle’s swap meet field, you could buy a non-running project car and, theoretically, with all the driveline parts found at Carlisle, pull a few all-nighters and on its own power, drive it home from the show.

Sounds like a potential cool marketing opportunity! 

Finally, the Carlisle Chrysler Nationals is also about people. “I don’t think we’ve ever had as many special guests as we’re having this year. Linda Vaughn made a brief appearance at the show in 2018 when she was across the street at our Expo Center for the Hurst Nationals. This year, she will spend all day at the show on Friday and Saturday. Joining Linda will be MotorTrend TV personality and owner of DB Restorations, Dave Rea. Butch Leal will be here along with his Duster. Paul Rossi will have his 1970 Challenger, plus the Ramchargers and the Golden Commandos will be back. Herb McCandless will be on hand all weekend and on Saturday his good friend Buddy Martin will join him in the McCandless Collection tent. If you’ve been in this hobby as long as I have, then you have to remember Claudia Abel, Miss Direct Connection. She truly had so much fun last year that she immediately wanted to return. You can see her on the stage or in the Mancini Racing booth on the Midway and get a free signed poster,” exclaimed Ed. 

With the excitement brewing, the Carlisle Chrysler Nationals is on track to beat last year’s show field record of over 3,100 Mopar vehicles. And with the Dodge Thrill Rides and Direct Connection Midway Exhibit complete with the awesome new 2023 SRT® Demon 170 on display, fans are in for a real treat. As Ed has stated many times, “The best part for me is still the people. It’s like a family reunion. I wait all year to see everyone and then it’s over in the blink of an eye.” 

We couldn’t agree more!