Guest Reporter: Sam Memmolo Covers NSRA Street Rod Nationals

Thursday morning I hit the road at zero dark thirty for a rainy, 445 mile ride to Louisville, Kentucky, for the 47th  annual NSRA Street Rod Nationals. The ride was dotted with thunderstorms, which is so common in the east at this time of year.

All types of hot rods converged to the Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center in Louisville, Kentucky for the NSRA Street Rod Nationals.

On the road I saw lots of hot rods, street rods, classic cars and the usual contingent of trailers making their pilgrimage to The Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center. I actually stopped a few times to see if I could assist car owners who were experiencing problems and were sitting on the shoulder of the road. Some were simple fixes like a loose connection at the starter and one was a bad coil. Most got underway after a brief roadside repair and that’s always good news.

I arrived at the end of the day so I bypassed the show and went to the hotel for a shower and some dinner. There were plenty of awesome vehicles in the hotel and restaurant parking areas. I broke out my trusty camera and started shooting, trying  to catch some flare for what was in store at the show.

Arriving at the fairgrounds early Friday morning, I wanted to walk the swap meet before the temps shot up to the nineties. It’s always hot and extremely humid in Louisville in August. If you look hard enough you can find most anything in this swap meet. There were several great projects just waiting to find a new home and be built by some guy or gal with a dream. I checked out the assortment of pedal cars, vintage motorcycles, flatbed trailers full of drivetrain units, and of course the usual automobilia.

This old 1933 Chevy truck was ready to be finished. The engine and drivetrain had been fully redone, and it had a clear Indiana title. All for only $7,450.

I love old trucks and this 1933 Chevy pickup for $7,450 immediately caught my eye, as well as what looked to be a late 30’s vintage Mercury airporter limo. I could hardly resist digging into my pocket when I saw that great little Navy SNJ fighter aircraft. I wondered how many kids had piloted that around a few times?

This little Navy SNJ fighter aircraft was one of many cool finds at the swap meet.

My juices were flowing as I saw an old Pontiac fully restored sitting on a trailer and next to that was an old Dodge panel delivery. Then I turned around to see a 1957 Buick convertible next to a Schwinn tricycle pedal-type ice cream cart. The swap meet was doing a brisk business and it was only 7:30 a.m.

On to the front of the fairgrounds and into the front doors revealed the NSRA Giveaway car. An awesome 1932 Ford Woodie Wagon compliments of Hercules Motor Company owned by my friends Fern and Cecil Taylor.

NSRA’s give away car for 2016 is this 1932 Ford Woodie Wagon crafted by Cecil Taylor at Hercules Motor Company.

 

If you are familiar with Hercules cars, they are flawless creations and an intricate blend of sheet metal and exotic woods. I wish Cecil and his crew would make furniture. Some lucky winner will have some of the finest craftsmanship bestowed upon him or her. I never win anything but I can dream.

Hercules Motor Company also brought this 1939 Woodie Wagon for display, or for sell if the right buyer walked by.

With over 10,000 registered vehicles and in excess of 75,000 spectators, the NSRA Nationals in Louisville is a great show that I have attended most every year for the past 15 years or so. As you may well imagine, it can be overwhelming. I’m just trying to give you some idea of what it is like and some of the fabulous cars from all over the world that make an appearance.

Inside the Hercules Motor Company Woodie.

In addition to the ’32 Woody, Hercules displayed a ’32 High Boy and a ’39 Woody wagon. All with matching miniatures designed and built by Brent Gill of Gill Designs.

Matching miniatures of the actual builds are becoming very popular with the high-end custom builders like Hercules Motor Company.

In the Atrium builder’s showcase I found an awesome 1966 Mustang. The car caught my eye because it had a tasteful blend of old and new. The black paint was flawless and defied picking apart. Under the hood that small-block Ford with Borla injection looked so sweet. The car was built by Garret’s Rod Shop in Columbus Ohio.

The atrium was just chock full of “The Builder’s Showcase and there were too many to mention. One car that caught my attention was a 1975 AMC Matador. Googled as one of the ten ugliest cars ever built, the boys at Page Custom Rods and Restorations in Oilville, Virgina, transformed it into an awesome machine with 502 big-block Chevy power.

The ugliest car ever built turned into a masterpiece.

Going through the big doors and into the building revealed over 300 vendors and several awesome rides scattered in the booths.

I came across an Electric Green Dart that was awesome and built by Big Oak Garage in Hoke’s Bluff, Alabama.  I loved this Mopar.

This electric green Dart came from Hoke's Bluff, Alabama.

On display in the Ride Tech booth was the 1953 Cadillac Convertible built by my pal Chris Ryan from Ryan’s Rod and Kustom Shop in Ninety-Six South Carolina. He and his wife Lori are terrific folks who now have five award winning Caddy’s under their belt.

A 1953 Cadillac Convertible built by Chris Ryan of Ryan's Rod and Kustom Shop.

There was a Ford Econoline Pick up with four blown Ford “cammers” in the bed.  Sounded awesome when they fired it up!

Overall the show was busy and exciting as hot rodders bought all the stuff they needed to keep their projects going. Wings Callahan was there as always to provide the music and entertainment.  He is an icon at this show and one of the best guys I know.

Maybe next August you can put Louisville on your list and enjoy four great days in Kentucky.

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About the author

Sam Memmolo

Sam Memmolo is a 45 year  veteran of the automotive industry, and is well known in business circles from the original equipment manufacturers to the aftermarket and performance segments.  Sam hosts and produces his syndicated "Sam's Garage Radio Show,” which provides consumers and shop owners with a wide spectrum of advice, industry news, and product awareness, all presented in an easy to listen to entertaining format.  Sam is heard on 50 radio stations, and the internet.  Sam wrote and co-hosted the incredibly successful TV show "Shadetree Mechanic" on TNN, which had a terrific run of 190 episodes spread over 8 years.  Later he wrote and co-hosted  "Crank and Chrome", also seen on TNN.  Sam, along with his pal Dave Bowman, set the benchmark for automotive TV programming as Sam became Executive Producer and Host of "Two Guys Garage on SPEED.  Semi-retired, Sam and his wife Diana live in Alabama with their hot rods and rescued dogs.
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