Vintage truck owners are easy to please. Simply give them more fun than they expect and you'll keep them smiling all weekend. NSRA Special Events Director Jerry Kennedy and his gifted crew routinely give (almost) 'til it hurts. Their goal at the 2004 NSRA Tampa show was to see the happy group of drivers and spectators flash those warm smiles from the welcoming get-together until long after the trip home. That's when they know they've given their best.

How do you begin the giving process? For starters, Florida is trying to return to their old designation of the Sunshine State instead of the current nickname of the Plywood Panel State. After several weeks of hurricanes and rain, the local chamber of commerce gave the crowd a treat, arranging for marvelous October weather in the low 80s, a cause for rejoicing among locals and out-of-towners alike. The tree-lined lakes and spacious facilities of the Tampa Fairgrounds were another gift, with scenic beauty and loads of room to spread out. Inside, in air-conditioned comfort, dozens of manufacturers were on hand selling the latest in new custom and restoration parts. Outside, many swap meet folks were selling just about everything else. The Model Car Contest, sponsored by Model Associates of the Gulf State, brought the younger truck lovers into the competition as well.

Ready to start the fun? First, you could have joined the host club, the Tampa Knights, for their traditional Friday poker run and tour of Tampa, then met for the evening kickoff party at the Crowne Plaza, Sabal Park host hotel for Even Steven's Oldies Dance Party. You'd have had to be ready for more excitement Saturday morning however, and plan your schedule carefully. Some spent time checking out the fabulous collection of 1,256 registered custom vehicles on display and chatted with old friends as they made the rounds. While the locals never miss the NSRA Tampa event, the warm Florida weather attracts many folks from the colder parts of the country. You can always find new and interesting rides, some driven from great distances, at this show. There was even a sizable contingent from the United Kingdom enjoying the unique collection of American rides. While we were wandering row upon row, we kept an ear out for NSRA voice Wings Kallahan, who was calling numbers throughout the weekend, qualifying spectators for great door prizes. Many who entered a vehicle in the competition took a moment to schedule a free NSRA safety inspection. The inspection crew definitely added to the owner's peace of mind, and the sticker likely helps the value of the vehicle at trading time. When we were exhausted from seeing the sights, we grabbed a quick bite to eat and were refreshed for the Saturday evening festivities. We really enjoyed the traditional Tampa lip sync contest and stayed late for the classic rock sounds of Boomerz Doo Wop. For those with the stamina, Tampa nightlife adds another level of fun.