As the old saying goes: If you don't like the weather, wait five minutes and it'll change. And though you can never accurately predict what the weather will do (with our apologies to professional TV weathermen), you can certainly say, and with a high degree of probability, the Goodguys Rod & Custom Association will give ya a helluva show!
The Goodguys Southeastern Nationals were recently held in Charlotte, North Carolina, on the infield of the massive Lowe's Motor Speedway (the same 160,000-seat facility that hosts the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR race in May). Now in its eighth year, the Goodguys' S-Nats has seen a steady rise in attendance, which not only shows that rodders like to come to this show, but they've told their friends, too.
On Friday, usually just a "warm-up" day before the big Saturday festivities, enthusiasts kept filling the infield with cars, making it a full-fledged show by noon! The weather was perfect (clear, sunny, and warm) and organizers had to find new places to put all of the additional cars. It seems that only a few years ago the infield area was only a quarter full. But this year, more than half of the area was utilized for the swap meet, manufacturers displays, and around 3,100 rods (Goodguys allows cars through '72 at this event).
One reason that so many cars were on the grounds early could have been because there was a well-attended cruise going on all day on Thursday that allowed access to some of the area NASCAR and hot rod shops. On both Thursday and Friday nights you could purchase a "ride in a rocket ship"-a three-lap trip at 180 mph as the passenger of a real NASCAR racer on the banked track of the speedway. Hundreds of wannabe racers strapped on the helmets, climbed through the passenger window of the race-prepped racecars, got strapped in, and, after the pedal-to-the-metal ride, emerged with ear-to-ear grins. The only problem was, at 180 mph, the three-lap ride is over way too quick!
The weather for Saturday, traditionally the biggest day of the show, saw a 20-degree drop in temperature and the addition of a 15-mph crosswind. Those rodders from the warmer states such as Florida were reacquainted with the term "cold to the bone!" Undeterred, the show went on (Hey! It's better than the pounding rainstorm like two years ago!) and rodders from all over the Eastern United States got to check out each other's rides. And considering Goodguys' up-to-'72 approach, there was a lot to look at.
This event was one of the five Goodguys shows where CLASSIC TRUCKS presents a Top 5 award. The recipients of this award not only get a spot in the winners circle during Sunday's program, but they also get a plaque and a Top 5 jacket. Street Rodder magazine (a sister publication to CLASSIC TRUCKS that caters to the pre-'49 crowd) was also on hand to pick 10 vehicles for their Top Ten program (see the April 2002 issue of Street Rodder for their take on the event). Many people wonder what it takes to win one of these magazine awards, but it's quite simple: the vehicle has to look cool. It may be a $10,000 beater or a $100,000 pro-built ride, but stance, attitude, and general appeal are all factors in the decision.
The Goodguys organization does a good job in creating an event that has something for everybody. Willys owners had their "Willys Round-Up" and there was even an area set aside for "Way Cool Wagons" for the ever-growing popularity of the customized station wagons. Add to that, giving attendees a chance to win a brand-new Ford Mustang GT convertible (the Goodguys have one to hand out at their East-based shows as well as another for the Western-based shows) or one of hundreds of goodies in the Grand Prize Giveaway program (for example: a set of Goodyear tires or $500 gift certificates from numerous hot rod parts manufacturers), it seems that the Goodguys have all the bases covered. It's no wonder the Charlotte show has grown so much these past few years! For more info on the complete series of shows from the Goodguys, check them out on the web at www.good-guys.com.