I’ve always loved the “Nats,” and since my first Nationals back in ’76 (in Tulsa, Oklahoma) I’ve done my best to make the show every year I possibly could. But, I have to admit that this year’s gathering was a milestone to say the least, and what made it such was the huge amount of classic pickups that attended the show. It’s great that we classic truckers with post-’48 pickups have access to what is the largest hot rod gathering in the nation – one that consistently draws anywhere between 8,000 and 12,000 entries each year. For those who’ve never attended, it’s huge. Imagine over 300 vendors spread throughout 500,000 square feet of indoor exhibit area on top of the acres and acres of aforementioned cool cars and trucks on display.

In the past, the association’s strict pre-1949 year cutoff pretty much disqualified a large portion of the truck contingent. Sure, there has always been a pretty darn good turnout of street rod pickups (’27 to ’40s), F-1’s, and of course ’47 and ’48 Chevys but, in all honesty, it’s been mainly the domain of street rods for the 50 or so years it’s been held. But, as I said, a couple of seasons ago the NSRA has opened up the year break for the Nats up to and including 1980! Finally we classic truckers and our pride and joys have the opportunity to be a part of one of the biggest and most exciting events in the hobby, and though the classic truck turnout was huge compared to any previous gathering I’m hoping that the Nats will become a premier classic truck destination in the future.

That said, I wanted to give you a peek at some of the pickups that were there this past August to give ya an idea of what’s in store for those who add the NSRA Nationals to their event calendar in 2013. So take a look at a fraction of the pickups we ran across this past season, and then please consider making the Nats one of the events you choose to attend this year. Believe me, if you’ve never been it’ll be an experience – show up once and you’ll be hooked!

01 Todd Stansberry’s no-nonsense ’70 C10 is a great example of the high-quality classic pickups being built all across the country these days. Its great stance and cool wheel and tire combo speak volumes.

02 Cincy Street Rods member Joe Adkins made his way to Louisville from Liberty Township, Ohio, behind the wheel of his beautiful bright red ’41 International. I’ve been admiring Joe’s pickup for quite a while and was pleased to see that he’d made his way to the Nats this season.

03 In 1958, Chevy performed a total redesign of the frontend sheetmetal that gave the Task Force trucks a new look. One of the most notable of the design changes was the addition of quad headlights and a massive front grille. Marvin Moole’s ’58 is a prime example of a good-looking classic cruiser.

04 Steel wheels and wide whites are staples on traditional hot rods, be it cars or trucks, and James Baggett’s ’68 C10 proves that traditional doesn’t always mean pre-War iron.

05 The trip to this year’s Nationals was just a hop, skip, and a jump for Rick and Karen Basham. If it weren’t for the heavy traffic in and around this year’s event, the Louisville, Kentucky-based couple may not have even gotten their way-cool ’56 Chevy’s engine up to operating temperature.

01 The NSRA Nationals has always been home to countless pre-’49 classic pickups and this past season was no different. Larry Wimsatt’s ’48 Chevy Suburban and Bill and Judy Lile’s ’48 F-1 are prime examples.

02 Shawn Blanford’s basic black ’72 C10 drew lots of admirers throughout the course of the event. So much so that we had to return to it multiple times in order to get a clear shot at it.

03 There’s just something about a base-model Tri-Five Chevy pickup that makes ’em dear to my heart. The painted mirrors, headlamp bezels, and bumpers like the ones on Larry Henderson’s ’55 looks great outfitted in that unpretentious style. Hopefully my ’57 will look as good.

04 Backing up Larry’s ’55 was Chris Staneck’s bright red F-100 that sports a bit of chrome plating. Both are great-looking classic pickups that complement each other.

05 You’re liable to see anything at the Nats, from nice restos to ISCA contenders like Monte Hampshire’s full-on custom ’50 GMC.

06 Another one of my favorite trucks in Louisville was Ed and Sandy Cottrell’s beautiful ’57 Chevy. The color combination and polished five-spokes made this baby a standout.

07 It’s great to see folks embracing longbed pickups these days. In our opinion, cool custom pickups like Bob and Claudia Hacker’s ’68 C10 are every bit as cool as their shorter brethren – and often more utilitarian as well.

08, 09 I just knew CT photographer Gerry Burger wouldn’t pass up on shooting Pat and Becky Farrell’s beautiful blue ’40 Ford. Gerry’s the rightfully proud owner/builder of a very similar ’40 himself.

10 Angelo Martin’s competition-inspired ’48 Chevy sports an awesome chop and a cool scallop paintjob. Shades of the Salt anyone?

11, 12 One of the neat things about the Street Rod Nationals is the abundance of cruise lanes throughout the fairgrounds as well as the hundreds, or perhaps thousands, who take advantage of ’em. With vehicle attendance in the thousands one could take a break from walking the grounds and just sit, relax, and watch the cars and trucks roll by.

13 Denny and Trish Crist of Albany, Indiana, chose to build their ’41 Willys pickup as a cool cruiser rather than a dragstrip campaigner – and we’re sure glad they did.

14 There’s no need to miss going to the Nationals just because your project truck isn’t totally finished. Just do like Troy Slaten did with his hammered ’69 C10 and jump behind the wheel of your in-the-works classic pickup and join the fun.

15 There were a lot of early to mid-’60s Chevys in Louisville this last season too. I really liked Dave Condie’s ’64 Fleetside shop truck. It was a good thing I’d left my checkbook at home.

16 Peachtree City, Georgia-based Paul Prebor made his way to the Nats behind the wheel of his great-looking ’48 Studebaker. His was just one of many Studes that joined the fun this past season.

17, 18 No Street Rod Nationals would be complete without a large contingent of traditional jalopy-style pickups, Darryl Woosley’s neat little ’35 Chevy and Mike Weintraut’s ’41 Chevy are just two of many at the show.

19 As I’ve stressed in the past, the NSRA Street Rod Nationals is one of the largest, most fun events in the nation and each year a larger and larger classic truck contingent make the show even more entertaining than the year before. If you think being part of a hot rod gathering that draws upward of 10,000 cars and trucks sounds like fun then we suggest penciling in a trip to the Nats on your 2013 calendar – believe me, you’ll be glad you did!