Louisville, Kentucky, is currently the home of the worlds largest automotive participant event, the NSRA Nationals. The NSRAs contract for this venue was inked for at least a decade several years ago, so it will be home for the Nationals until 2010. The first weekend in August 2000 saw the NSRAs 31st Street Rod Nationalsthe sixth visit to Louisville (some say Louie-ville, others say Loo-a-vul). Attendance didnt set an all-time record (theres a good deal more rod run competition today), but it was steady at 11,261 street rods. About 15 percent of those were pre-48 commercial vehicles. Thats roughly 1,500 pickups, sedan deliveries, or larger trucks.
The Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center is by far the most comfortable and accommodating venue in the center of the United States, and it draws street rods from coast to coast. The air-conditioned buildings offer spectators a break from the typical 90-plus-degree temperaturesand it draws everyone who has products to sell as well. Speaking of products, you can now conveniently UPS your purchases of new parts or novelty items directly to your home. Rarely does the parking area fill completely, but cruising can be a challenge on Saturday with well over 100,000 spectators roaming the fairground. The cars and trucks are the main show, but the icing on the cake is the quality musical entertainment provided by the NSRA. Freedom Hall provides great visibility and acoustics for the best entertainment the hot rod hobby has to offer. Last years evening shows featured award-winning country music recording artists Janie Fricke and Lee Greenwood. These Graham Brown and Jolly Demis. A unique treat is the opportunity to meet the artists after the show.
If the promise of seeing 11,000 street rods isnt enough for the hardcore, another unique experience is the opportunity to see over 200 new products created specifically for the street rod market. Every year the NSRA tallies the votes of industry judges to award the Best New Product of the Year in several price categories. Visibolts won for Under $50, Lokars Eliminator gas pedal for $50 To $500, and Fatman Fabrications split axle for the Over $500 category.
Our space is too limited to show much more than a glance at some of the trucks in attendance. Theres more than a weeks worth of things to do in the four days of the Natsplus plenty of Nationals history and heritage thats subject for lively conversation. Typically, older members debate how long todays youth will be interested enough in pre-48 cars and trucks to support these special-interest activities. This writer suspects there will continue to be a bright future for modified vintage vehicles, and a long run for the Grandaddy of all hot rod events, the NSRA Nationals!