Hundreds of acres of grass and asphalt covered with thousands of 1948-and-earlier street rods. Weather determined to soak you to the bone or bake you alive. So many cars and trucks that, even in four full days, you probably won't see more than a fraction of them. Hundreds of vendors displaying thousands of new parts and products. Row after row of swap meet spaces, loaded with every kind of automotive hidden treasure.

It's the granddaddy of all national hot rod events--for spectators, enthusiasts, participants, vendors, builders, and journalists from all over America, the National Street Rod Association Street Rod Nationals is the show you have to go to, and Louisville, Kentucky, is the gearhead mecca in a pilgrimage that some of these hot rodders have been making for the past 36 years.

R&C was on hand for two reasons: to feast our eyes on the 11,333 (official count) cars that packed the Kentucky Fair and Expo Center, and to host the annual Rod & Custom Pros' Pick.

Who's eligible for R&C Pros' Pick judging? Anybody at the Nats who is willing to keep their ride corralled inside a roped-off area for a few hours on Friday while an elite team of pro builders and manufacturers inspect them all and select the street rods they consider the best of the best. We got shots of the 12 winners along with some of the rods and customs that caught our eye.

Rod & Custom Pros' Picks