Forty Third Annual NSRA Street Rod Nationals – Louisville, Kentucky

Every year around the beginning of August the NSRA invades Louisville, KY, and fills the state’s Fair and Exposition Center with some of the hottest street cars on the planet. This year the forty third annual NSRA Street Rod Nationals Plus was held the 2nd-5th and really brought out the best of the best. In spite of some rain showers and high temperatures the attendance was still strong throughout the long weekend. Nearly ten thousand cars and almost seventy thousand spectators occupied close to every available parking space and indoor exhibition area the facility has to offer, helping to make this such a successful event.

This 41 Willys owned by Harry Zerby took home the Comp Thumpr Award.

The Street Rod Nats is an event that’s open to all enthusiasts and their cars with a vehicle that is over thirty years old. However, the rules just a few years ago only allowed for 1948 and older cars that were officially considered “Street Rods.” What’s cool is when companies understand the need for a change to reflect the times and trends of the car hobbies, so now NSRA allows all cars 30 years and older into the show. We really like mixing in cars from the Muscle car era with the Rods and Customs that got the car craze started. We always look forward to seeing who and what will show up next!

Studevette - a 57 Studebaker with blown C5 Vette power came to the show fresh from the build, owned by Bernie Conrad of North Carolina. Bottom - This 56 Chevy Convertible is owned by Dick Stevens of Mississippi and has an AME chassis and 406 cubic inch small block with crazy Arao 32 valve heads, making over 900HP!

Judging

A pick for PPG outstanding use of color, Sam Hoskin's 65 Riviera.

How they’re judged: With the exception of the PPG outstanding use of color awards, cars are brought to a central area for judging. Each class is judged by different people typically on different days. Categories include but aren’t limited to:

  • Comp Thumpr Award – Decided on by staff from the Comp Performance Group, they look for a car that best depicts the spirit of the nationals. Having a cool sounding car that also looks good helps as well. There’s only one car chosen for this award each year.
  • UPS Commercial Way – Picked by the folks at United Parcel Sevice, these vehicles represent delivery and the spirit of the company which bases it’s air hub in Louisville.
  • MOPAR Country – A MOPAR club is chosen by NSRA to come in and take a look at Chrysler/Dodge/Plymouth bodied or powered cars. Six cars were selected for this category.
  • PPG Outstanding Use of Color – Is exactly as the description. PPG representatives scour the entire event looking for cars that best represent this ideal. Unlike some of the other classes where participants wishing to enter the judging assemble to be scrutinized in a predetermined area, PPG is hard at work walking the show looking at all the cars on hand.
  • Safety – Each of NSRA’s chief safety directors select picks that meet the criteria for the NSRA outstanding safety award.
  • Field Force – Each NSRA divison director and their State Reps select a car that meets the criteria for an NSRA Merit award.
  • Pro’s Picks – Chosen by industry and media members. Cars are evaluated and voted on. Those selected for the circle of winners are the twelve who received the most votes.

Circle of winners featuring no less than forty of the top cars from the show.

1955 Ford Convertible with Boss-Nine power - Pro's Pick, Frank Tetro.

Vendors, Swap Meet and Women’s World

Aside from the massive car show there are also plenty of other things going on to keep everyone entertained throughout the weekend. There’s a massive vendors and swap meet arena with all the best parts for participants, spectators and even fun things for their families. Tons to do, see, and enjoy – all in one amazing custom filled weekend.

Swap Meet

Located near the fairground’s horse barns is the world renowned swap meet. Like many swap meets you’ll find sellers with cars in all states of construction and completion. We saw everything from running street rods, and muscle cars to half completed kits and rolling bodies. Engines, transmissions, and all the parts needed to construct either of the two.  Seats, interiors, memorabilia and just plain junk, were all there as in droves. There were some tempting buys and finds along the way but we had to resist the urge to tow or drive home another project car, maybe next year.

Even on Sunday there were still some deals to be had in the swap meet area. This 1953 Ford pickup was 3500, and another seller tried to get us to buy his Charger for $5k, insisting that we could drive it home today.

UPSCommercial Way selections: Dick and Brad Stevens 1956 Chevy Pickup (left) and a 1934 Ford Roadster Pickup owned by Keith and Kim Confer.

Vendor’s Displays

Ridetech was out in the parking lot with their FFR 33 Hot Rod on display.

If you did happen to buy a new project at the swap meet, or had a need for some parts then this was definitely the place to be. We’re confident that you could buy a total pile of junk in the swap meet then walk the vendor’s area, and with enough personal talent you could come out with the parts needed to build a candidate for Street Rod of the Year.

Seriously though, the vendor exhibits are a “who’s who” of parts manufacturers, and suppliers for Rodders, and Muscle Car enthusiasts alike. We killed a couple of hours during Friday’s rains scoping out the offerings in some of these booths (and not just because they had the best canopies). We saw frames, body panels, gauges, wiring harnesses, crate engines, interior parts galore, wheels, tires, brakes, suspension, tools, and equipment. You name it, you could probably find it here. You could have even bought a truck and trailer to haul everything home with, if you needed.

Women’s World

If you happened to come to the Nationals and brought your significant other who might not be as enthused about all things Street Rod as you, Women’s World offered the perfect past time for them. This extremely large area filed out another wing of the Fair and Expo center. There were all manner of completely non car related items for sale, clothing, jewelry, home care products, you name it. We’re pretty sure it was enough to tie up your loved one shopping for hours on end while you scoured for parts or checked out all of the hot rods to drool over. Women’s world is the ultimate babysitter for the car lover who’s spouse isn’t quite as excited by the latest suspension parts or the coolest street rods as you are.

Mopar Country Picks From Top Left: The 1934 Convertible of Ron and Judy Lukins, The 62 Valiant Panel of Barry and Vicky Cawley, one of only 50 built! Bottom Left: The 72 GTX of Joe Todd, and the 1933 Dodge of Larry and Mona Gipson.

This 69 Coronett belongs to Bob Villiger and took honors in both Mopar Country and PPG Outstanding Use of Color.

We spent two days walking the show and we also attended the famed Sunday’s Circle of Winners awards ceremony. With so many cars to see it’s impossible to cover every car here in one short weekend. We’ve sorted thousands of photos to assemble a gallery of as many of the top cars in attendance as our batteries and legs allowed. We’ve also highlighted some of the awards recipients from each class up above and blow for .

Pro’s Picks Winners

Bob and Debb Becker

46 Ford Woody

Jack and Cathy Stirneman

34 Ford

Henry Richards

32 Ford

Dale Stubun

69 Camaro

John Denison

55 Cadillac

Bill Kilkeary

40 Ford Coupe

Kenny Frederic

57 Chevy Sedan (red)

Homer Hudson

37 Business Coupe

Gary Brown

57 Chevy (black)

Frank Tetro

55 Ford Convertible

Eddue Baumann

29 Ford

Larry Olson

40 Ford Deluxe

Doing something odd will definitely get you noticed.

Check out the FULL GALLERY below:

About the author

Don Creason

Don Creason is an automotive journalist with passions that lie from everything classic, all the way to modern muscle. Experienced tech writer, and all around car aficionado, Don's love for both cars and writing makes him the perfect addition to the Power Automedia team of experts.
Read My Articles

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