Organizers Prepare for Street Machine Nationals


By Matthew Searcy

DU QUOIN -- It's expected to be a very busy weekend in Du Quoin. The Street Machine Nationals kicks off on Friday.  

Cars of all makes and models have been rolling in to town all week. Jim Martino and his daughter arrived on Wednesday with their vehicle. 
"It's an Australian built Ford Falcon XPGT. They made under 1,000 of these," said Martino. "I've probably got $70,000 in this car." 
Martino is in town to visit old friends and admire more than 3,000 other hot rods which are expected to be at the fairgrounds this weekend.  
"I've been doing Street Machine Nationals since the early 80's," said Martino.  
The annual 3-day-event isn't just a regional draw.
"It's definitely a national draw," said event organizer Matthew Louck. "We will have about 28 or more states represented here."
The event returned to Du Quoin last year after more than a decade-long ban, due to rowdy crowds. Last year's event went well, but organizers expect a bigger turn out this year.
"On the spectator side we had just over 24,000 and we anticipate to be around those numbers again, if not higher," said Louck. 
Street Machines has a major economic impact on area businesses. The Farigrounds Inn and other surrounding hotels have been booked for months.
"The economic impact, just by our estimates it's several million dollars," said Louck.  
This year's event also figures to be more laid back. City leaders have decided to lift some restrictions, including letting the classic cars cruise around town. The event will also have a reduced security presence. State police will have less manpower, but Du Quoin police will still have the same number of patrolmen.
"It's up for them to behave to make sure it stays here for many years to come," said Louck.  
Marion Regional
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