Louisville ... Still the One

NSRA NATS IS HIT­TING STRIDE AT 49 YEARS OLD, ONCE AGAIN WITH LARGER CROWDS AND 10,000-PLUS STREET RODS

Street Rodder - - Contents - BY BRIAN BREN­NAN PHO­TOG­RA­PHY BY THE AU­THOR, GERRY BURGER & CHUCK VRANAS VIDEO GRAPH Y BY TAY­LOR K EM PK ES

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.

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