The First Annual NSRA Route 66 didn’t set any attendance records, but for the first show in the Land of Enchantment, 785 registered cars ain’t too shabby. The event, held in Albuquerque, New Mexico, was an all-around success. Rod Authority assigned roving reporter Roger Jetter to cover the event and we bring you a full update.
There is much to see in New Mexico. Albuquerque is the home of the Unser Racing Empire, “Old Town” Albuquerque and many other nifty attractions. The Sandia Mountain Tramway is located on the eastern edge of the city and is the world’s third-longest single span and the longest aerial tram in the United States. Of course, old Route 66 still runs right thru the heart of the city. Along the way, remnants of the storied highway remain. Old motels can still be seen and a few original gas stations, but a sharp eye is needed. Famous old movie towns, Santa Fe and Taos are nearby.
The fairgrounds, officially called “Expo New Mexico” are located in the middle of Albuquerque and are large enough for 2000 or more cars. The ground’s Main Street has parking on both sides and still allows two-way cruising. The grounds stayed open for cruising under the lights that ran the length of the Main Street. Cruising both evenings was a highlight. If horse racing is your thing, there’s even a casino on the grounds if you get tired of gazing at hot rods.
The event started with a ‘shop tour’ of several rod shops in the area with a lunch stop at the end of the tour. After, the group visited the Unser Museum which holds Unser Racing History and memorabilia. The museum recently expanded and has a wide variety of special interest cars, from restored antiques to winning pace cars and race cars. There’s also a trophy room filled with unique items and a library spanning the history of racing.
Thursday evening, the “Visit Albuquerque” Chamber hosted a free kick-off dinner on the fairgrounds, serving a standard New Mexico fare- beef and chicken Enchiladas with world-famous Green and Red Chili.
The swap meet had lots of rust-free New Mexico iron.The swap meet was small but the majority of items for sale were typical New Mexico rust-free stuff. The meet was close to the Main Street and there was plenty of parking on the grassy areas next to some of the great southwest architecture. The meet will grow in time.
The band U4EA ( Euphoria ) played on Friday afternoon and rocked the show. Dr. Fine played both Friday and Saturday nights as well as a matinee performance on Saturday afternoon to entertain participants. Dr. Fine and the band is a high energy group based in Pueblo, Colorado. They have ties to California going as far back as the sixties. Members have backed up Jan and Dean, the Platters, the Coasters and the Drifters.
Arts and Crafts were located in the Lujan building, in the middle of the Expo fairgrounds and a good amount of vendors were located inside. The air conditioning felt good combating the heat and sunshine outside for those that wanted a respite from the New Mexico sunshine and several food vendors were inside. A ‘Ladies Tea’ on Friday afternoon entertained 135 Ladies.
On both days, NSRA officials were out among participants looking for the cream of the crop for awards. About 50 awards were handed out at the ending ceremony on Sunday afternoon. While some officials were walking, several were inspecting vehicles for their Safety 23 program.
Not much is said about this part of the event but these guys get down on the knees to inspect your steering and brake lines among other items like wipers, turn signals and scrub line. Your safety is their primary concern and they want you to return home safely. They also choose several cars for their ‘Safety’ awards.
Event Director Tom Wilkerson, set up special sections named “Streets of Rods” just off the Main Street. These included the “Under 29” section for those owners/builders under the age of 29, “Best Interior,” “Square bodied pick-ups,” and “Chopped Tops”…participants in these areas were eligible for awards.
Last but certainly not least, NSRA’s Super Prize Program gives away thousands of dollars worth of goodies at each event. On Friday morning, registered participant’s entry numbers are drawn and posted for everyone to check. That happened several times on both Friday and Saturday.
If the prize is NOT picked up before the Sunday Awards program, new numbers are drawn again on Sunday. In addition to the daily Super Prizes, the National Street Rod Association gives away FOUR $2,000.00 checks at each NSRA Divisional Event. The cash prizes are given away at the end of the Sunday Awards Program.
All in all, the event was a success and NSRA confirmed there will be a “Second Annual Route 66 Nats.”
See you next year!