David Woodworth (Photo courtesy of RVIA)

David Woodworth (photo courtesy of RVIA)

RV historian and renowned RV collector David Woodworth was presented with the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA) prestigious “Spirit of America” award in recognition of his two decades of service to the industry as an enthusiastic ambassador and media spokesperson.

The presentation came during “Outlook 2010: Let the Sun Shine,” the kickoff event to the 47th National RV Trade Show held Tuesday (Dec. 1) in Louisville, Ky.

Woodworth spoke to the audience of 1,000 RV industry members about the growth of the RV industry over the past 100 years, the evolution of RVs and RVIA’s plans for the RV Centennial Celebration, to kick off in 2010, according to a news release.

Tracing the history of the RV industry since its inception in 1910, Woodworth said that, after a slow build in popularity from 1910 on, “The RV industry exploded. In fact, in the mid-20s, The New York Times estimated that there were 15 million auto campers on the road.” He added, “It wouldn’t have been unusual for a family traveling in an autocamper in the 1920s to visit a park with 800 campsites, a movie theater, a nine-hole golf course and a salon.”

Woodworth went on to say that the Great Depression damaged the RV industry following its “Roaring ‘20s” heyday, but that the freedom of the open road appeals to Americans just as much now as it did then.

RVIA Public Relations Committee Chairman B.J. Thompson said in presenting the award, “David has been of great service to our industry as a media spokesman over the past two decades. He’s been an enthusiastic ambassador on 18 RVIA media tours throughout America, and he’s always put a friendly and memorable face on RV history.”

Following the breakfast, Woodworth spoke to show attendees at the RV Centennial booth, where some of his antique RV memorabilia is displayed.RVIA_Centennial

In April, Woodworth will lead a two-week RV Centennial Media Tour from New York, N.Y., to Elkhart, Ind. The Tour is slated to feature antique and modern RVs to showcase the advancements the industry has made.

RVIA is also planning to offer media interviews with David Woodworth on location with antique and modern RVs via satellite to generate more coverage of the 100th anniversary in media markets across the country.

RVIA’s Spirit of America Award was established in 2002 to recognize prominent Americans for their extraordinary dedication to the values of freedom espoused by the RV industry. Woodworth joins previous honorees including Olympic Gold Medalists Kerri Strug and Rulon Gardner, the actor and RV fan Matthew McConaughey and NBC Today Correspondent Mike Leonard, who chronicled his family’s RV journeys.