OUR FOUNDING FATHERS
Elliott "Chip" Miller and Bill Miller, Jr.
A Retrospective by Bill Miller, Jr.
Chip and Bill Miller late 70's.
At the Hershey show in 1973 Chip Miller and I, two car crazy guys, were asked to
bring a car to the Milestone Car Society booth as an attraction for this fledgling
car club to attract people to their booth. Chip owned a 1954 Corvette that he wanted
to sell so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to sell the car. We were eventually
told by officials of the event that the car was not old enough to sell and that
we had to remove it from the grounds. We were shocked that an almost-20-year-old
car was not considerd an old car. We did not know that at that time an antique car
was to be 35 years old or older. We were not even that old at the time so we had
a hard time relating to a car that was made before we were born. As the Hershey
show was our favorite thing to do all year, we were disappointed that we could not
particapate with what we considered to be an old car.
Carlisle Events Fairgrounds (1975)
As we removed the car from the grounds, we discussed the fact that it was a shame
that there was not a place to take old cars - at least ones that we thought were
old - to show and sell. The more we talked about it, the more excited we became
about having an event like that. As time went on we decided to each put up $500
and give the car show for newer cars a try. We checked out many venues and decided
that the Carlisle Fairgrounds was the perfect location because of the central location
in the state and the fact that three major highways intersected close by. Postwar
'74 was born the week before the Hershey meet, and everyone came to see what it
was all about. We had no restrictions as to what you could show or sell and the
event took off from the start. We not only got the late model hobbyist but everyone
who liked cars came as well.
The Growth of Carlisle Events
Carlisle Events Vendor Services (1975)
By the following year no one called it Postwar '74 anymore; it just became known
as Carlisle. Carlisle '75 and '76 grew by leaps and bounds and the idea came to
us to duplicate the show for the spring season too. Spring Carlisle '77 worked as
well as the previous fall event so we were on our way to another show. In 1980 the
shows became sellouts and, as a result, we started another event in the summer to
take vendors who could not get into the spring or fall shows. This time we rented
another location to hold the event as the price of the Carlisle Fairgrounds was
continually going up. Summer Carlisle '80 was held at the Pennsylvania State Farm
Show facility in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The show drew a different vendor and
spectator than we had at the fairgrounds thus creating a new market for the entire
family, not just the man and occasional lady friend, but men, women and children.
Fairground Facilities (2007)
The following year was a turning point for the Fleamarketeers (as were known then)
because we were able to purchase the Carlisle Fairgrounds. From this time on we
were able to design the fairgrounds for the car shows since we no longer had to
comply with the previous owners' wishes. We took over the Carlisle Fair for the
next three years and finally gave it to the local agriculture extension office who
eventually moved it to another location. This was the final step in the process
to make the fairgrounds the perfect facility for car shows. Over the next few years
buildings were built, roads were paved, electricity was updated and permanent bathroom
facilities were enhanced and built. A food court was added and food vendors expanded
their menus. We have continuously tried to make this facility better for the shows.
Corvettes at Carlisle(1983)
Chip was always "Mr. Corvette" so the addition of the next event was
Corvettes at Carlisle '82. This show grew at an amazing rate as the world
was ready for a huge Corvette event. It soon became the world's largest Corvette
event and still holds that title today. Chip was the master at knowing the Corvette
world inside and out and always added new and exciting features to the show.
It was only natural since spring and fall were always sellouts that other shows
would follow. Soon there was
Performance and Style, and
GM. The summer show always had a lot of motorcycle vendors and it eventually
became Carlisle Bike Fest.
The Passing of a Best Friend and Partner
Chip Miller Racing
As you can see, many changes took place at Carlisle from our first event in 1974 though the addition of Bike Fest in 2002. Sadly my best friend and partner Chip
passed away in 2004. He loved cars and most of all he loved the people that the
cars brought together. Chip's love for the Corvette enhanced the Corvette world
more than he ever could have imagined. As Chip expanded the Corvette show, he got
his son Lance involved, and he too became as fascinated with the Corvette as Chip
was. There were big shoes to fill when Chip passed away but Lance jumped right in
and promised to carry on where his dad left off. The Corvette show still grows each
and every year with Lance at the helm.
A New Beginning
Lance and Bill III (2007)
Lance and my son Bill III were employees of the fairgrounds for many years in their
younger lives but each of them went their own way and were successful in different
careers. When Chip passed away Lance came back to the fairgrounds immediately to
step in and help me with all the duties of Carlisle Events. When our CEO left the
company, I asked Bill III if he would be interested in becoming a senior manager
with Lance. They would be overseeing the day-to-day operations of the company along
with me thus giving me more time to spend with many of the non-profit operations
that Carlisle Events feels are so important to our community. Bill jumped at the
chance and they are now adding the excitement of younger, enthusiastic car guys
who want to take the shows to the next level.
Every day they are putting their past show knowledge, along with the experience
they gained while pursuring their own careers, to work to make Carlisle the best
it can be. New people have been added, ideas are flowing, and this can only be the
beginning of the new Carlisle Events.
Thanks for being such loyal participants in Carlisle shows. Be assured that the
best is yet to come; you have my word on that!
Bill Miller, Jr.
Co-Owner, Carlisle Events