The 33rd NSRA Rocky Mountain Street Rod Nationals was held June 23, 24, and 25 this year with 1,988 vehicles officially registered. There were even more than 15,000 spectators who poured through the gates at the Pueblo Fairgrounds to view them. Admit it, there are very few places, shows, or events where you can go to see that many vehicles up close and personal for such a low spectator admission.
While some of the western states sweltered in 120 (plus) degree temps, Pueblo, Colorado enjoyed record breaking L-O-W-S for the end of June. So low, in fact, jackets and sweatshirts had to be broken out, and condolences to those that came to Pueblo packing only shorts and t-shirts. While the rest of the Western side of the country stayed inside on the last weekend of June, car guys in Pueblo, Colorado, were enjoying the company of other like-minded individuals while checking out hot rods, street rods, trucks, classic cars, and kustoms.
We saw a few trends making their presence known at the Rocky Mountain Nationals, especially in the Pueblo region. To wit:
Trend #1: Red is still the most popular color to paint a rod, kustom, or truck. Red has always been popular, but around here that color is followed closely by green.
Trend #2: There are still an amazing amount of hot rods that attend this event, and hot rods mean large engines, blowers, or multiple carburetors.
Trend #3: Fifties cars are showing up in huge numbers at local cruises and events, and the sixties cars are coming out of the garages. Some of them rival the best-built street rods.
Trend #4: Chevelles and Camaros top the list of sixties stuff being built, however, Impalas and lessermainstream models of the Chevrolet cars overshadow other marques.
Trend #5: The Chevrolet LS engines have gained such popularity in recent time, that the once popular “Tuned Port” engines are virtually obsolete. But, there are those that still believe in the good ole blower and multi-carburetor inductions.
In addition to the 43 winners displayed in the Winner’s Circle on Sunday, this author likes to showcase a few of our favorites. Here are three picks that really tripped our trigger at the Rocky Mountain Nats:
Drag Strip Staff Car
This’53 Buick is the “Official Staff Car of the Colorado Springs Drag Strip.” Unbeknownst to many people today in Colorado Springs (this author included), Colorado Springs used to have an eighth-mile strip east of town, and a local timing association ran it in the ’50s and early ‘60s. Jeff Berndsen bought this car after a former owner failed at the attempt to chop it, so he finished the job – that is, he removed the roof. Jeff owns a body shop in Colorado Springs, so he decided to make it a pseudo convertible.
He extended the tulip panel behind the rear seat to make it look like a true convert, added the canvas cover, straightened some of the body, and then sprayed the patina on it. The Buick runs the original straight 8 engine and Hydramatic transmission, and the original hubcaps keep the outside appearance original. The interior was literally gone, so Jeff had the interior redone in saddle tan vinyl and added new carpet. Jeff named the car to keep the spirit of the former drag strip alive, besides, doesn’t everyone know convertibles make a perfect “staff cars”!
This 1942 Dodge was parked in the awards ceremony with an NSRA “Special Award” taped the window. Gabe Sanchez of Albuquerque, owns this Power Wagon ambulance, and was a great tribute to the WWII war veterans. Not only was it painted Army Green, it had a great pin-up painted on the side of it, like the fly-boys of WWII did on their airplanes. Inside, there was a small rearward-facing jump seat and an “I.V. bottle” hanging from the roof.
On the outside, a spotlight looked original and a couple of red crosses made the ambulance look realistic. The passenger’s side was covered with a nicely done WWII mural. The only thing that was a slight distraction to the WWII theme was the huge billet-style wheels. However, the best part of those wheels was that the ‘spare’ wheel and tire actually rotated when the truck was driving down the street. We’re sure this one hit home for a lot of veterans.
Half A V8
This cute little pickup was sporting one of those rare Pontiac half a V8 engines – a four cylinder. The pickup looked like it began life as a tall T cab that had been shortened but not chopped. The tall T windshield and side glass may have made the pickup just a tad hot in the summers, but there was no evidence an A/C unit was considered. The radiator shell had a great metal logo on it, announcing the small engine, even before anyone looked closer.
Gazing at the halved engine, there were two single carbs atop the manifold, and the single M/T valve cover read: “Pontiac Land Speed Record Class D-March AFB-1962.” We don’t know exactly what that pertained to – this engine or a different record holder, but the little truck was definitely a driver, complete with luggage rack and a spot at the rear for the cooler. Wonder if the owner knows that spectators called his pickup “cute”, and we also wonder how he feels about that? Apologies to the owner as the dog ate our notebook full of names!
If you like lots of cars, unpredictable weather, and cash prizes, plan on the next NSRA event!