(Editor's Note: I decided to take a week off for a non-automotive-related vacation right after the Street Rod Nationals, so I figured I'd let Kev take another shot at the editorial this month so we can all get a better idea of what he's all about. That and I didn't have a chance to get it done before I left. -KL)
As the entire R&C staff has spent what seems like most of the last month on the road or flying to events, our esteemed editor asked me to write an editorial about my first experience at the NSRA Street Rod Nats, so here goes: huge, hot, and humid. That was easy! What I actually think he wanted me to express was a first timer's account of what is probably the world's largest-going by participant numbers-auto show. Now, I've been to plenty of rod runs and shows both large and small over the years: Run to the Sun in Lake Havasu, Bakersfield Hot Rod Reunion, Paso Robles, Goodguys Del Mar, Viva Las Vegas, and too many local club shows to count, but these have all been West Coast shows. Needless to say, attending Goodguys Columbus and then a few weeks later the NSRA Street Rod Nationals in Louisville was a whole new adventure for me, and one I was most definitely looking forward to.
In addition, I've attended the European Street Rod Nationals for a number of years, hosted by a different European nation every year, as well as the English NSRA SuperNationals for two decades, so apart from the Australian Nats, I've experienced the major national events around the world. How did Louisville compare? That's not really a fair comparison, nor what this editorial is about, as it's obviously bigger than the others. America is the home of the hot rod, which makes for a greater number of participants over foreign events, as well as greater numbers of specialty companies serving the rodding community, but I was genuinely surprised at the number of vendors in the exhibit building at Louisville. Man, you needed a day just to get 'round all the booths, and then there were more outside! It shows just how far this hobby has come when you see some of the products that have been developed and manu-factured, and the fact that there's a market for, and even a profit margin on, many of the specialized items proves how big rodding has become.
The diversity of the cars on display didn't go unnoticed by me either. I truly never expected to see so many rodded versions of huge Buicks, Packards, DeSotos, Cadillacs, early Studebakers, Nashes, and even a couple of Bentleys. How the parking lot never subsided where these behemoths were parked remains a mystery!
I was also surprised at just how many four-door rods are out there, something I've not really noticed at other events I've attended, as well as how few rat rods were there (I hate that term; although it cannot be denied its derogatory connotations are deserved by some, "traditional," "nostalgic," or "old school" aren't really suitable descriptions of the genre either, as most are none of these). Of course there were a number of what really were traditional rods there, both painted and primered, but what really caught my eye were the few that looked traditional, yet upon further investigation were really pushing the envelope with trick engineering, especially when it came to suspension design. It's these types of cars that do it for me, and if they get other builders thinking, stirring the creative juices, that can only be a good thing.