Louisville, Kentucky is famous for many different iconic events and locations, and not just in the hot rod world. The Kentucky Derby, Louisville Slugger, and of course it is the home of Kentucky Fried Chicken – just to name a few. However, there is one event that has taken place every year for the past seven years which is quickly becoming the place to be in Kentucky.
Beatersville Car and Bike Show is best described as a massive party for anyone who enjoys old school traditional customs, rockin’ rockabilly, and of course we can’t leave out the sexy pin-up babes. But don’t let the name fool you, it’s not all rust and rats, there are some incredible custom machines that will leave you drooling.
This show was the brainchild of a couple of guys that realized that there wasn’t a good place in the Louisville area for the custom culture guys and gals to gather. Over seven years ago, Sean Blanford and Scott Shepard contacted the management of Phoenix Hill Tavern on the east side of downtown to see what they could get started. Since the very first show they have been busting at the seams to accommodate the overwhelming response of this hot rodding party.
Because of its location in the historic Baxter Avenue area of Louisville, the Phoenix Hill Tavern offers an extremely unique setting for a car show. “The city has been very generous to allow us to grow over the years”, tells General Manager, Frankie Rodgers. “It is so cool to see the whole car, music and pin-up culture,” she adds. In fact in addition to Baxter Avenue being closed, this year they have closed a portion of Broadway to allow for more cars.
Several parking lots and streets around the Phoenix Hill Tavern were full of very cool custom rods, old school bobbers and choppers, and people everywhere. Dice Kobayashi, who drove his highly customized 1947 Ford Business Coupe, told us, “This is a great location. You have the bar, the music and the people all right here in this cool neighborhood.”
If you need to get that pomp groomed and slicked back, Derby City Chop Shop is set up with a couple of barber chairs and will hook you up to get you looking like one cool cat. Then grab yourself a cold PBR and just hang out around the stage for some killer rockabilly from bands like Jane Rose and the Deadend Boys, Solid Rock’it Boosters, and many other incredibly talented bands.
We decided to brave the heat to take a gander at the rows of customs lined up all around the buildings. This is not one of those custom shows where all types are allowed. You won’t find any $250k street rods, muscle cars, or billet clad fiberglass. It’s not that Sean and Scott don’t appreciate them, but there are plenty of big Street Rod shows in Kentucky, so they wanted to keep their event closed to only traditional and custom style rods pre-’68. As there is very limited room, come early because this event fills up fast!
Some of our favorites are the smoothed out lead sleds, with hard chop tops slammed down to the ground. It always amazes us how much thought and vision one must have in order to create such a work of art. Then there are the rat rods which always make people stop and stare with those wide open zoomies and no fenders. These cars in their own right have become iconic very quickly in this scene.
This gathering also draws a bunch of very cool custom bikes out of the woodwork. Everything from complete custom bobbers to the old school choppers with their long forks and custom paint. Some of these are very reminiscent of the Easy Rider bikes you might have seen in the mid-70’s. The antique Harleys have a whole story of their own, just like the riders of each and every one of these bitchin’ bikes.
As we make our way around we have plenty of opportunity to snap shots with the many sexy pin-up girls walking the show. These girls are always ready and willing to strike a pose for the camera. And the car owners usually have no problem with a cute little Betty leaning against their car and as they do a crowd gathers every single time, so both the gal and the custom get plenty of eyes on them.
One of the highlights of the day is when everyone packs inside the main bar area of the Phoenix Hill Tavern to get a gander at the pin-up contest. As the girls come out on stage one at a time to introduce themselves and answer a few questions, the crowd’s enthusiasm builds. Each one of these girls are hoping to be crowned this year’s Miss Beatersville. But only one will walk away with the coveted title, and this year it went to the lovely Miss K Dawn.
Along with the bitchin’ customs and the rockin’ good music, you really can’t beat a gorgeous sword-swallowing bombshell for entertainment.
After the day was done and the cars started rolling away from the Phoenix Hill Tavern it was easy to see why this show is a definite must see if you live or visit the Midwest. We met up with some incredible people, listened to some of the best rockabilly you can find, and soaked in an abundance of very cool customs. Really, what more could we ask for?