"Every time my foot would slip off the spoon (throttle pedal) on the trip to Peoria, Bud would sit bolt-upright in the seat thinking something had happened," Jake continued. "Bud thought you couldn't drive an old Model A from California to Peoria without something going wrong."
Bud's reasoning was a bit different-he said the pedal was so "slippery" because Jake was falling asleep at the wheel.
Jake hadn't earned the handle "Jitney Jake" for nothing. He spotted a pile of old cars on a farmer's property in the middle of Nebraska. Unfortunately Bud ended up in the hospital in the process. Not from the farmer's blunderbuss either: "We asked the farmer if we could buy some parts," Bud said. "Jake had a couple of shop towel bags. The farmer said we could fill the bags for 10 bucks a bag. Jacobs got a set of original '29 headlights; I got a dash panel and an instrument cluster with a cat-eye glass gauge in it. When I released the pressure in the gas gauge line, it stirred up a nest of hornets in the seat and they stung me on both arms."
Tex traveled to Peoria pulling a tent trailer with his Chevy Suburban and camped in the hayfield where the event was held, along his wife, Peggy, his three girls, and his son.
Ken Grimes of Wellsville, Ohio, (who supplied many of the photos of the first Nats) motored from eastern Ohio to the Nats. "As soon as R&C announced it, me and my buddy Bill Achberger decided we were going," Ken said. "Back then, you built a car to go maybe 20 or 30 miles to a car show, not through several states. We took Achberger's 8-inch channeled Model A coupe with the gas tank in the trunk, so you know how much space we had. Bill still owns the coupe. We didn't have reservations or anything; it was something that we had never experienced before. Seeing cars that we'd seen in the magazines and meeting Tom Medley, Bud Brian, and Jim Jacobs was like meeting your heroes. I met people there I still see every year at the Street Rod Nationals. I know people all over the country because of it."
"We're about to launch the most popular hot rodding event ever," Tom wrote in his introductory article publicizing the Nats. This was to be more than a car show. Tom and his staff had an action-packed event in store for the participants. Besides the hayfield that a Mr. Forest Lemmons allowed them to use for the show 'n' shine, a large parking lot was also pressed into service. There was also vintage tin to rummage through at the Swapfest, plus there was a driving rally taking approximately 45 minutes, which was a whole new experience for the majority of the 200 street rodders who navigated the course.
"Some of the guys went out and found traffic cones to set up a slalom course," explained Tex. "Tom and I circulated, through word of mouth, to head to the parking lot. A map was handed out for the drivers to follow. We called it a Streetkhana."
There was a restaurant right next door to the parking lot where the Streetkhana took place. "I went over there the night before and I told the manager that we had a bunch of guys who were going to be at the place early the next morning for breakfast so he'd better be ready for them," Tom recalled. "'No problem,' he said, 'We handle the conventions around here.' Late the next morning, I went over to get something to eat and I thought a bomb went off in the place. There were dirty dishes everywhere and the cook had stormed out and quit. They had never seen so many guys go through the place in such a short period of time."
Needless to say, all who attended were not disappointed, and deemed the 1st Annual Rod & Custom Street Rod Nationals a success; 1,200 participants and nearly 600 pre-'49 street rods made the show.
After the first Nats, street rods were beginning to be looked upon as more than parade cars or wedding fodder. The event was proof you could actually drive the damned things out of state!