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Curtain to rise Feb. 11 on 103rd Chicago Auto Show

February 3, 2011
It's awards season. Tinseltown has trotted out its Oscar nominees; Motor Trend and others have named their car/truck bests for 2011; and the auto show circuit continues across America. Next stop: Chicago, which on Feb. 11 takes its frontrunner stature as North America's largest auto show and widens the gap with others.
A distinguished feature of the last several years has been the Chrysler Test Track, which enabled the company to put Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep vehicles through the paces on the show floor. Few other auto shows can mimic Chicago's lead on the indoor track front. Another bonn to McCormick Place.
But why stop at one track? This year's Chicago Auto Show will see four-count 'em, four-test tracks. A near whirling dervish!
Continue to seek out the Jeep track. Added to that are test tracks for the new Chevrolet Volt, recently tabbed as Motor Trend's 2011 car of the year; a construction zone created on the show floor for Toyota to highlight its SUVs; and a path to ride in the new Ford Explorer.
Other highlights to look for at this year's show:
• First Look for Charity has live entertainment this year. Quite a bit of it, actually.  The event will feature a performance by KC and the Sunshine Band, who tied The Beatles' record of having four No. 1 hits in a 12-month period. So they've got that goin' for them-and lots of fun for those who come to see them at the show's black-tie preview Feb. 10. 
But McCormick Place is a big venue, so patrons also will be able to enjoy blues-rock phenoms, the North Mississippi Allstars; and jazz trumpet star Rick Braun. For a full look at the night's activities, see
• Ours is the first auto show to create a media preview day specifically for new and social media.  Why is that important? Because everyone is tweeting, Facebooking and blogging. We want to make sure that as news trends toward a digital age, we embrace them. It's going to be an experiment on Feb. 10, when social media and PR and marketing folk all come together at the nation's biggest auto show.
• By the way, make sure you sign up for Twitter (@ChiAutoShow) and click the "like" icon at the Official Facebook Fan Page. It's great for up-to-the-minute information on appearance dates and times, special promotions and contests.
• Pack the car full and park cheaper with this year's special discounted evening parking at the McCormick Place parking lots. There are three main McCormick Place lots labeled A, B and C. The daytime rate is $14 at Lot B and $19 at Lots A and C. But after 6 p.m., the rate at all three lots drops to $10.
• Saturdays and Sundays only, the Chicago Auto Show operates free shuttle bus service to and from the Millennium Park Garage and East Monroe Garage. Park at Millennium Park for $14 and ride a free shuttle to the doors of McCormick Place.
• The show's all-new Web site,, has everything from basic show information about tickets, parking, hours, mass transportation, history and vehicles on display, to a photo gallery of new and old cars that's second to none.
It's fresh-looking, interactive, intuitive and informative.