Downside to keeping the hood closed is that if it is judged that way your going to get a 0 in points for motor. almos any car show ive been to or have judged if its closed up. it gets 0 points in that category. my car has flames all over it and i like people being able to see that, so at times i'll have the hood closed and at times opened, but it is always opened during judging. or if im not around the car and judges are going around.
not having time to clean the car isn't going to fly with any judges. so clean as much as you can. i generally spend tons of time at shows cleaning the car before its judged. weird that someone would look at you funny, ive never been to a show that it was considered bad form to clean your car. unless were talking about a major indoor show. for those. you should be done cleaning before the crowds arrive. any normal outdoor show ive never had an issue with it.
we drove and competed with our sunfire till it got around 100,000 miles on it, and by then it just became to impractical to drive it on the street daily because we had so much done with it. so at that point we relegated it to weekend duties, but even then we'd drive it to work here and there and most of the weekends. all that means to me as a judge is you have more cleaning to do then the next guy. and it comes down to who wants it more.
I think we're talking about completely different types of shows. None of the one's I've taken either of my cars ('69 charger, 2011 challenger) to ever got judged using a points system. For the most part they are judged by the other entrants, using a category system (IE best '60s car, best mopar, best paint, best 2000 and newer etc etc) and cars won via gathering the most votes (usually paper tabs torn off and put into a folder on your windshield...).
IE, I've never "lost points" for having the hood down. There is nothing to see under our hood but a stock 5.7 anyway, and compared to my '69 charger's 440, it's not much to look at.... We are usually part of a small minority of "new cars" at the shows we go to. I don't even think most people vote, because they don't like our cars being there. (which I can totally understand about the sedan....I hate when those show up at our show...)
Hard to believe, but even at what you guys would probably consider "old school" car shows, people can be sort of persnickerty about you cleaning you vehicle "too much" at the show. I even got some dirty looks at a cruise-in at our only surviving original A&W resatraunt this summer.
Reallity...we don't all have the money or time to do the level of cleaning/detailing/modding/upgrading etc that apparently is required for car shows these days......I wish I did, but I just don't.....