Downtown Nashville is known for their aspiring country music stars, street parties and great times, which bring thousands of people out on the streets. However, on the weekend of May 18th downtown Nashville was overrun by the sights and sounds of classic muscle cars, deep growling street rods, and neck breaking street machines.
In fact, over 1,700 of the smoothest and coolest vehicles from 1972 and earlier made the voyage to LP Field, home of the Tennessee Titans, for the Goodguys 7th Nashville Nationals Car Show.
As soon as I arrived at the stadium I had to make a choice of where to start at this sprawling outdoor facility. From the looks of things, there were still a ton of customs rolling through the gates and already, the stadium was filled with every kind of hot rod the mind could imagine. My heart was racing and I felt like a kid getting ready to run around an amusement park for the weekend.
Keepin’ The Wheels Hot
Almost immediately after getting my bearing straight, the familiar sounds of squealing tires and hard hitting V8′s snapped through the air. Men and women alike were being drawn to the sound like zombies to fresh flesh. Being the strong minded person I am, I followed.
What I found was a 1,000 feet of twisting and turning autocross nirvana. Goodguys events set these tracks up to allow not only the seasoned pros running their low sitting, high revving cars, but also anyone who entered their car into the Nashville Nationals could push both their driving skills and their rides to the limit.
There were several classes for participants to enter depending on the year of their vehicle. For the big boys (and girls) of the track it was the pro class. This was filled with drivers such as Ryan Mathews who muscles the Detroit Speed ’66 Mustang test car around the track. Ryan pushed his car to the limits to give the best time of the pros.
Not to be out-done, the trucks came out in force this year. When they would pull up to the starting line it was like someone let loose a rabid lion. The exhaust would push so hard out of Kevin Bapst’s ’68 ratted Chevy C-10, it would blow the orange marker cones over.
Even though the pros were awesome to watch, some of the most amazing wheel burning fun came from the average person who just wanted to have some fun and se what their cars would do. Entering the Street Rod class was Bob Cross who would take it deep in every turn with his 1932 Ford Roadster. Next in line would be the sounds of the loud, deep exhaust of Mike King’s 1963 Pontiac Tempest Street Machine pushing hard through the straights.
From the look of all the participants and the fans who lined up behind the fences and bridges, it’s easy to say that Goodguys has done a very cool thing by introducing autocross into their national events.
Goodguys Autocross Results
- Pro Class – Ryan Mathews, Detroit Speed 1966 Ford Mustang, 33.97
- Street Machine Class (’55-’72) – Brian Finch, 1971 Chevy Camaro, 33.979
- Street Rod Class (54 & earlier) – Donny Freise, 1932 Ford Roadster, 36.444
- Truck Class – Brian Finch, 1966 Chevrolet C-10, 34.154
A Virtual Sea Of Customs
Having three days to spend at the Goodguys Nashville Nationals was somewhat overwhelming. There were so many different cars ranging from chopped and channeled lead-sleads equipped with airbag suspensions and slick Lake Pipes to extreme horsepower producing motors stacked high with blowers and cheater slicks under the rears. Also, a ton of beautiful bone stock classics where parked right next to hand-built custom rats, and everything in between.
The crowds were thick trying to get an up close and personal view of these one-of-a-kind creations. In fact, over 45,000 people were in attendance over the weekend to take it all in. If you were one of those who fought the traffic through the detours around Nashville to get your hot rod fix, then you were definitely in for a treat.
I trudged what seemed like many lengths of the stadium, doing all I could to keep my tongue in my mouth looking at the eye candy on display. Even though there may have been duplicate models and even years, not one of these cars were anything like the other. These cars were all extensions of the personalities and character of the owners, and it showed.
Bright and highly glossed paint with flames burning the hood and fenders or patina with a few rusted panels came together for a spectacular show. And if you are a car or hot rod enthusiast, you would find something here that you would like no matter your style or tastes – there was definitely something for everyone.
Little Deuce Coupe
Saturday was a celebration of the Deuce Coupe and there were plenty lined up for the 80th anniversary of an American icon. There is just something about an open wheeled hot rod with it’s top down that brings a smile to everyone’s face. These are the cars that the Beach Boys sang about and were featured in many American classic movies for that very reason.
There must have been a hundred or so of these classic rods lined up. Some were simple flat black hard tops, while others had been meticulously massaged with chrome suspensions and mirror like finishes. Flames or straight high gloss color, billet or half moons, it’s all personal preference and the reason we were gathered. The owners of these rides were proud of being able to own a little slice of American hot rodding history.
I spoke to many participants and spectators who were thrilled to see the massive numbers of cars that showed up this year in Nashville. One person made the comment, “How could they possibly choose the winners from all these cars”. My thoughts were there as well, because all of these cars were winners in one way or another. I didn’t envy the judges walking the grounds attempting to pick a few out of the many.
This year, the Goodguys invited world renowned hot rod builder, Bobby Alloway from Louisville to personally select the “Builder’s Choice” awards. The Builder’s Choice award is the highest honor a custom car can receive at a Goodguys event. And out of all these beautiful machines, which spanned an area of 10 football fields or more, he could only choose 10 cars. This must have been a very daunting task.
Goodguys 2012 Custom Rod of the Year Finalist
Dwayne Peace, Tyler, TX – 1955 Ford Thunderbird (Ridler Award Winner)
Goodguys 2012 Muscle Machine of the Year Finalist
Gary Bauers, Spring Green, WI – 1965 Ford Mustang
Goodguys 2012 Truck of the Year (early) Finalist
Dan & Robin Sobieski, Orange County, CA – 1932 FOrd Pick-up
Goodguys 2012 Muscle Car of the Year Finalist
Mack Bernd, Arlinton, TX – 1969 Chevrolet Camaro
Goodguys Builder’s Choice Awards – selected by Bobby Alloway
Dwayne Peace, Tyler, TX – 1955 Ford Thunderbird
Greg Cline, Winfield, WV – 1960 Oldsmobile Wagon
Danny & Beth Johnson, Hurley, MS – 1962 Chevrolet
George Poteet, Collierville, TN – 1956 Chevrolet
Kenny Fredrick, Geismar, LA – 1957 Chevrolet
Johnny Edmunson, Athens, TN 1955 Chevrolet
Frank Tetro, Melbourne, FL – 1955 Ford
Seth Wagner, Crystal Lake, IL – 1967 Dodge Charger
Joe Stuban, Naples, FL – 1937 Ford
Pete Datino, Valhalla, NY – 1932 Ford
Even though I have been to every type of car show there is, the Goodguys events always bring out the best of the best. If you attended the Nashville Nationals and were bored, it may have been because you didn’t look hard enough to find the one that lit up your eyes. There were also over 200 product vendors on hand to help you find just the right product to finish off that project in the garage.
Next time Goodguys rolls into Nashville, do yourself a favor and make that trip downtown to LP Field and be prepared to be amazed at the wide range of cars and people you will find.
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