When you say something is the "biggest" you better be able to back it up. That's not a problem when speaking of the NSRA Street Rod Nationals... there is no other street rod event in the world that has more registered participants, and this year the final count was 11,333. This was the eighth year in a row and 14th since 1989 that more than 11,000 street rods have been registered for the hobby's premier event. Each morning when the participant entrance opened, three continuous lines of street rods streamed into the Kentucky Exposition Center quickly converting the entire facility into a sea of glorious color that was constantly changing as vehicles cruised the grounds. The collection of street rods was made up of entrants from every part of the U.S. and Canada, with this year's Long Distance winners coming Templeton, California, and Pearl City, Hawaii.
The NSRA Street Rod Nationals is everything there is about street rods, and more. There was a record number of commercial vendors selling every type of street rod product from building basics to car care products in the massive exhibit halls and outdoors, there was a huge swap meet with everything from vintage tin to complete cars, and the New Products area was packed with more than 180 items available to be examined for the first time. There were lobby displays of special interest vehicles from General Motors Corporation and all of the Street Rodder Magazine "Road Tour" cars. Street rod technical seminars were available on a variety of subjects, and you could have your street rod weighed or get a safety inspection courtesy of the NSRA inspection teams that came from all across the country to provide the free service. The ladies could visit Women's World which was again loaded with arts and crafts, jewelry, casual apparel, and tons of novelties, or they could board a bus for a free ride to area shopping malls. There was the 29 Below Show of the vehicles owned by the younger street rodders, the Pros Pick area where a bevy of new creations were unveiled, Mopar Country with its array of chrysler product entries, the UPS hosted display of street rods with a material hauling heritage called Commercial Way, and PPG personnel toured the grounds searching out entries that displayed "Outstanding Use Of Color." There were games, three live entertainment performances, a church service, and people mover trams to make getting from place to place easier.
As always, the place to be Saturday afternoon was the drawing for the Top Participant Prize. The Endless Summer Band helped get everyone in Freedom Hall in a festive mood, then NSRA gave away a beautiful, brand new, turn-key '37 Ford pickup street rod built by Downs Manufacturing to Matt Klingler of Beach City, Ohio.
On Sunday afternoon the "Circle Of Winners" display, consisting of the 42 vehicles to be presented awards, preceded the awards program, and then the balance of the more than $99,600 worth of Super Prizes was given away along with the special Nationals prize, a complete Backyard Buddy lift. And with that the biggest street rod event of 2005 was history... at least until next year! Until then...