Hot Summer Nights was conceived 13 years ago by three friends and car enthusiasts who got together and thought out loud: "Wouldn't it be nice to have a car show in Danville." Tony Carnemolla, David Allen and Jim Wadsworth decided to make their vision a reality by working with the city and downtown merchants to create the popular show. Allen later dropped out and was replaced by David Miller.
"We decided on Thursday night because Thursday nights used to be the quietest nights in Danville," said Carnemolla, the owner of Dad's Locksmith, in an interview in 2005.
The event draws thousands of people and hundreds of cars to Danville for four alternating Thursday summer evenings. The momentum builds throughout the summer and the last event usually draws 12,000-15,000 people and up to 300 cars.
"The event is very well-known," said Carnemolla. "I've been told many times it's probably one of the best shows outside of Reno's Hot August Nights. I get phone calls as far away as Oregon, but the furthest call I ever got was from Switzerland. A lady called me and said she was at the show last year, but wouldn't be in the States this year, so she gave me her VISA number and ordered two T-shirts."
There is no fee for spectators to enjoy the cars, the ambience, and the live bands that play '50s and '60s music. Car owners pay a fee to display their beauties, which must be pre-'60 vintage automobiles. The event is nonprofit and completely organized and operated by volunteers. Sponsorships from new car dealerships and donations from local merchants support the show.