Louisville ... Still the One
NSRA NATS IS HITTING STRIDE AT 49 YEARS OLD, ONCE AGAIN WITH LARGER CROWDS AND 10,000-PLUS STREET RODS
NSRA Nats is Hitting Stride at 49 Years Old, Once Again With Larger Crowds and
10,000-plus Street Rods
The first weekend in August has long been the time we set aside to go to the NSRA Street Rod Nationals in Louisville, Kentucky. If we can’t make the drive there is always following it online or go old school and begin to count down the days until it appears in our favorite magazine ( STREET RODDER, of course!).
And why should this year be any different as the 49th annual get-together was served up at the Kentucky Exposition Center where it has been since 1997 … I believe. (A little background on the KEC: It’s a large multiuse facility originally built in 1956. It’s the sixth largest facility of its type in the country with 1.3 million square feet of indoor space. It also houses two arenas, Broadbent Arena and Freedom Hall, where the Sunday award-winning vehicles are shown, almost 700,000 square feet of Class A exhibit space, of which there were 273 exhibitors, and nearly 500 acres of outdoor planning space on grass and concrete.) A majority of the
1.3 million square feet is contiguous. (So finding a place to park shouldn’t be an issue.)
And for those of you who enjoy celebrating anniversaries be prepared for next summer when the 50th comes around. We haven’t been made aware of what the NSRA might have in store but being the 50th
I’m guessing we will see lots of cars and street rodder types we possibly haven’t seen in some time.
Aside from the weather being outstanding (which is saying something for Louisville in August!) you could feel the added excitement in the air … for whatever the reason. We could tell the spectator crowd was big, 62,201 people walked in, and this was especially noticeable on Friday and Saturday. As for the car count we did see window stickers at 10,190, making this one of the largest in years … another sign that all is right in the world of street rodding. To this we noted cars parked in areas we hadn’t seen street rods in for some time. There was no denying this was a good year.
When you say an event had “everything from soup to nuts …” that’s generally interpreted as a good thing, meaning there were all sorts of goodies going on to keep your interest. The 49th NSRA Nats had it all from the world of entertainment with the likes of Sawyer Brown to the Endless Summer Band … and who hasn’t heard Wings Kallahan and his daily sunrise to sunset playing of the oldies but goodies from his remote station located outside the center doors of the main exhibit building.
If wandering the acres of grounds looking at every manner of hot rod doesn’t wear you out then make sure to wander the nearly endless aisles of exhibitors inside. To this you should have seen the Builders’ Showcase in the main hall inside the exhibit building where for the past 12 years (since 2006) you can see about 30 of
the best examples from a myriad of builders our industry has to offer.
There is also the NSRA Super
Prize Program and this year
(the 31st year) the Nats package was worth $66,867 (featuring 44 companies—meaning over $28 million in prizes has been given away to rodders over the past decades). That’s an achievement. However, the prize everyone has their eye on is the NSRA Giveaway Car (featuring 50-plus companies). This year Waycool Customs in Pittsfield, Illinois, built the Brockmeyer Designs ’32 Ford Victoria. In order to win you must be a registered participant with your car on the grounds of the Expo Center at the time of the drawing. You must be present at the drawing, and if your lucky entry number is drawn you must verify ownership in your name of the registered vehicle. Taking home the Deuce was Charles Senn of Louisville (short drive home!). His ride to the Nats was a ’68 Firebird; now he has an early and late hot rod; can life get any better?
There are fan favorites, such as Pro’s Pick sponsored by Classic Instruments, where a dozen outstanding rodding examples are selected by an industry judging panel, 29 Below (for younger builders the program is now in its 32nd year) sponsored by Vintage Air, Mopar Country (in its 43rd year), new products section (this is a must for all hot rodders in attendance), and a really good program the Hot Rod Industry Alliance (HRIA) Education Days. These hourlong seminars are designed with you, the homebuilder in mind, to help you with virtually every aspect of car building in an effort to make you better at your hobby. Time well spent. Other favorites are the Safety Inspections, Powermaster Testing, Commercial Way (sponsored by UPS), and my personal favorite … Michigan Hot Rod Association Rod Repair Shop. For many, many years they have come to the rescue of countless street rodders who have found themselves behind the proverbial “eight ball” when things go wrong at the Nats. A
special thanks to these guys helping all those in mechanical need.
On the subject of new products this year’s winning companies were JJ’s Rods for their firewall boots ($0-$200 category), Classic Instruments for their ’64-’66 Chevrolet pickup direct-replacement instrument cluster ($201-$1,000 category), CarCapsule for their indoor car capsule ($1,001-$5,000 category), Fatman Fabrication for their ’63-’66 Chevrolet pickup complete chassis ($5,001 and up category), and Watson StreetWorks for their backup camera console monitor (Safety Related category).
As for the more physical among us there was the Streetkhana (autocross NSRA style) that was aptly handled by the American Streetcar Promotions and ran Thursday through Saturday. There were awards handed out for three classes that were broken into Pre-1949, Post-1948, and a Vendor Class (guys who
know how to drive and have the horsepower to make it happen).
And to wrap things up there was the Circle of Winners held at noon on Sunday and it is here the 48 outstanding vehicles from the show are honored in the arena for all to see. And what a way to wrap things up; it’s one of the last four-day shows in the country and it still provides plenty of excitement to keep rodders interested. We are always amazed at how many rodders arrive early in the week and are all set up and ready to go by Tuesday and the show doesn’t start until Thursday. Like we mentioned earlier, you could feel the added excitement this year and the number of entrants and spectator crowd coupled with the great weather made this a special year. And writing about special, all of us should be excited to see one another next year at the 50th … now that’s saying something.