By Matt Mueller Culture Editor Published Feb 21, 2020 at 12:01 PM

Get your engines revved up and ready this weekend for the opening lap of the Milwaukee Car & Truck Show, pulling out of the driveway on Saturday, Feb. 22 and burning rubber at the Wisconsin Center until the checkered flag comes down on the annual automotive party on Sunday, March 1.

For a full look at the map of exhibitors speeding into the Wisconsin Center this weekend or information on how to snag your tickets, check out the Auto Show's website. But we know you've got a need for speed – so here's a quick run-through of some of the coolest car displays and automotive activities gloriously drifting into Downtown Milwaukee through the end of the month.

1. Preview the future

The prize showcase of the Milwaukee Auto Show is, obviously, the automobiles, most notably the new fleet of cars and trucks primed to hit the pavement this year, next year or perhaps even far off into the future. This year's edition will feature more than 500 new vehicles to check out – from major manufacturers like Ford, Chevy, Toyota, Honda to just name a few, as well as fancy luxury brands including Jaguar, Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Maserati and more. That's a lot of new car smell to savor.

Best of all, the Auto Show is a non-imposing and non-selling atmosphere, more about discovery and learning than peddling or pushing – so feel free to window-shop and admire these new rides (such as the 2020 versions of the Chevrolet Corvette, the Kia Telluride, the Ford Explorer, the Hyundai Palisade, the Lincoln Aviator and hundreds more) without guilt or stress. 

2. Autos unlike any other

The new cars rolling out onto the Wisconsin Center floor and eventually onto the roads may be the stars, but any good gearhead knows that retro rides have an awesome and classic style all of the their own, worthy of a spotlight at the Auto Show.

So be sure to flip it in reverse and go back in time with the help of the Bennett Coachworks showcase, featuring a collection of restored Datsun’s, including 240z’s, and more unique gorgeously revamped classic cars from one of the largest auto restorations and custom car firms in the area. And while you're blasting to the past, check out the old-fashioned finds on display from Dahl Auto Museum – including a 1911 model T Roadster, a 1929 Nash, a 1957 Fairlane 500 Skyliner Retractable, a 1957 T-Bird, a 1969 Ford Mustang Mach 1 and a 2006 Ford GT – as well as the Futurliner #10, one of just twelve special and unique General Motors display vehicles that sped across the country back in the '50s.

With all of that, the Auto Show is basically the fastest and coolest history lesson you'll ever experience. 

3. Vrooming in virtual reality

The Milwaukee Auto Show offers not only a glimpse of the next year and next generation of automobiles, but also how the next generation of technology interweaves with them. Take, for instance, the event's multiple opportunities to go vroom in virtual realty or have some augmented reality automobile action.

Immersive simulators featuring a Dodge Challenger racing experience, a Hyundai VR experience and a Ford driving simulation will all be available to blow your mind at the Auto Show – and if you want to leave the pavement for a different kind of track, the event will also showcase a rollercoaster virtual reality simulator that might just blow your hair back even while you're not technically moving anywhere. And for a bonus altered reality experience with very real rewards, the Auto Show will also host a daily augmented reality scavenger hunt throughout the event, with an app game sending you collecting cars across all three floors of fun with a chance to win prizes. For more information on the scavenger hunt and getting in on the fun, click here.

With the added power of virtual and augmented reality, there's almost no limit to the fun to be found inside the Auto Show.

4. Sip & Savor

Listen, the cars and trucks on display aren't the only things at the Milwaukee Auto Show that need fuel. You will need to make sure your tank is full of food if you're going to see everything the event has to offer – and to help with that mission, the Milwaukee Auto Show invites you to its Sip & Savor on Thursday, Feb. 27.

From 6:30-9:30 p.m., 27 craft brewers (including names like Lakefront Brewery, The Explorium, Good City Brewing and many more) will serve up more than 70 tasty beers to sample along with dishes and snacks from some of Wisconsin's favorite eateries, such as ABV Social, Cafe Lulu, The Diplomat and more. It is a separately ticketed feature – though admission to Sip & Savor does include the Auto Show – with $25 tickets available online through Feb. 26 and $27 tickets available onsite. It's the perfect way to satisfy your need for feed as well as the need for speed. 

5. Car-aoke 

Are you a fan of "Carpool Karaoke" on "The Late Late Show with James Corden"? Well, here's your chance to give it a spin for yourself – and without having to sit in traffic next to one of the stars of "Cats"! On Saturdays and Sundays from noon until 3 p.m., CBS 58 will offer the opportunity to belt out a tune from your seatbelts with this interactive activity – so make sure your pipes are all warmed up and have the lyrics to your favorite karaoke song on standby. 

6. Activities for all ages

The kids may not be able to drive yet, but that doesn't mean they can't have fun at the Auto Show. In addition to Mascot Day on March 1, featuring some of your favorite plush pals from local sports teams parading through the Wisconsin Center from 1:30-2:30 p.m., kids themselves can get behind the wheel (safely and legally) with the kids test track, sending your future speedsters zipping around a mini-road track on electric-powered model cars. The track will be open to speedy youngsters on Fridays from 4-8 p.m., Saturdays from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. and Sundays from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. It'll give the kids an early taste of all the fun of driving – without any of the having to go to the DMV.


What's a great way to make a fun event even better? Add puppies. (And kittens!) Thanks to the Humane Animal Welfare Society of Waukesha County and Subaru (more like SuBARKu; I'm so sorry, I'm trying to remove it), the Milwaukee Auto Show will have pet-themed events and activities across nine days of the festivities, from kid-friendly lessons and demonstrations on animal safety and behavior to adorable – and, most importantly, adoptable – dogs and cats looking for their new forever homes.

With these precious animals in attendance, the Milwaukee Auto Show is guaranteed to be fast and fur-ious time. (I apologize again; I have a problem.)

And that's just a bit of all the automotive action headed to the Wisconsin Center starting this weekend, so get your engines ready for the Milwaukee Auto Show – and, most importantly, get your tickets. Admission is $12 for adults (13 and over) while senior citizens 62 years old and more (Monday through Thursday only) and military members with any DOD/ID are $9, and children 8-12 years old cost $6 – except on Family Days (Feb. 29 and March 1) when all kids 12 and under are free.

The Milwaukee Auto Show will run Feb. 22 through March 1, with doors open Mondays through Thursdays from 3-9 p.m., Fridays from noon until 9 p.m., Saturdays from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. and Sundays from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. 

For more information on the rest of the vendors and exhibits, as well as tickets, visit the Milwaukee Auto Show's website

Matt Mueller Culture Editor

As much as it is a gigantic cliché to say that one has always had a passion for film, Matt Mueller has always had a passion for film. Whether it was bringing in the latest movie reviews for his first grade show-and-tell or writing film reviews for the St. Norbert College Times as a high school student, Matt is way too obsessed with movies for his own good.

When he's not writing about the latest blockbuster or talking much too glowingly about "Piranha 3D," Matt can probably be found watching literally any sport (minus cricket) or working at - get this - a local movie theater. Or watching a movie. Yeah, he's probably watching a movie.