By Rachel Wulff

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — The second-longest running car show in the world is based right here in Sacramento – and it’s back after a year hiatus due to the pandemic.

“We put the word out there and everyone was like, ‘Thank God it’s back!” said John Buck, who puts the show on.

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It’s been a long road, but the Sacramento Autorama at Cal Expo is back on track. There are more first-time entrants this year than ever.

“We’ve got over 500 cars inside [and] another 600-700 cars will come outside, so it’s going to be like a 1,200-car weekend – which is phenomenal,” said Buck.

Car enthusiasts like Buddy Hale from Tempe, Arizona compete for thousands in prizes.

“It’s awesome just seeing everybody,” said Hale.

His team purchased a 1952 Volkswagen bug in San Francisco ten years ago from a hot rod shop that started on it. Finishing it has been a labor of love

“A half a million dollars in work, probably more than that,” Hale said.

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The car has earned celebrity status with people following the restoration on social media. They get the chance to see the finished product in person at shows.

“They are just blown away by the detail and the amount of work involved,” he said.

Part of the work Hale does is creating displays. He puts mirrors underneath the car so you can see the detail to the engine.

Cars are divided into different categories for competition. There is one section devoted to lowriders of all shapes and sizes. Some cars come with displays explaining the process.

“Every single person here, they are obsessed,” Hale said. “You have to have that. If not, you’re not going to be here.”

Hale competes around the country. He’s happy mask mandates have been lifted and hopes that will drive in more people to the Autorama.

But it’s the comradery that really gets his engine going.

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“There is a small circle of people who we know who are as crazy as we are,” Hale said.