The NFL has the Superbowl, MLB has the World Series, NASCAR has the Daytona 500, and the NHRA has the U.S. Nationals. All these high-profile media events feature the pinnacle of competition and the best of the best with the largest prize awaiting the winner—be it the size of the trophy or amount of the purse—it’s big! On that same line of superiority, the Goodguys Rod and Custom Association takes their traveling hot rod road show to Columbus, Ohio, every July for their “super” event of the year: The PPG Goodguys Nationals. Not only is it the largest event as far as attendance and entries go, but it’s also the show in which many of the top muscle car and street rod builders in the country bring out their top-notch examples to compete for the Goodguys’ most prestigious awards: Street Machine of the Year and Street Rod of the Year.
As far as outdoor car shows go, it’s the show of all shows. Now in its fourteenth year, over 6,000 pre-’72 cars were on display and nearly 100,000 people spun the turnstiles over the three-day event. So it’s fitting that in our somewhat niché muscle car world, we compare this show to some of the biggest media-hyped events in all of America. It might not have the notoriety of Dancing With the Stars, and its most famous car-building stars are far from being household names. Needless to say, you won’t find TMZ’s cameras lurking behind any tractor trailers hoping to catch Chip Foose’s every move, or to see if Troy Trepanier is up to some shenanigans inside Bobby Alloway’s massive compound. Jesse Greening has no problem staying out of trouble, and nowadays Phil and Jeremy Gerber of The Roadster Shop lack the spare minutes to even think about generating some sort of extra-automotive mayhem, so there is nothing that would require rolling cameras on that front, either. And what about former SMOY winners, the Ringbrothers? They earned their squeaky-clean reputation because, well … they’re squeaky clean.
So even though the PPG Nationals is the Goodguys’ biggest event, the major players, or “celebrities” of this event are just too damn busy building cars to infuse any sort of media tabloid news. And we’re sure that’s just fine with them.
But what you will find are some of the highest quality built cars on the planet. And to avoid the “trailer queen” stigma, each car competing for the coveted Street Machine or Street Rod of the Year must make an appearance on the now-famous Goodguys peanut-shaped autocross course. The cars aren’t required to beat any suggested speed or time on the track; it’s only mandatory that they are able to complete the required three laps around the course under power.
With enthusiasts and fans wrapped around the autocross arena’s fencing to take in all the action, they weren’t shy about showing their appreciation when a driver of one of these high-dollar hot rods was willing to hang it out for a quick lap time. A little tire smoke goes over very well with the crowd, too. Generally, this is just an exercise to prove that even though these are the nicest show cars in the country, most of them are armed with the best handling suspension components in the industry and are absolutely built to drive … hard.
Now, if you are of the type who prefers to take in the sights of a more real-world car show scene, there’s plenty more affordable car candy on the Ohio Expo Center grounds, too. The scene is casual, and pulling out a canvas-backed foldout chair under some shade is more than an acceptable way to enjoy the show. To many folks, that’s their way of beating the sometimes-stifling heat that the mid-west can conjure up in July. But the locals are used to it, and the out-of-towners have come too far to let it affect their fun-filled hot rod weekend.
As usual with most any vintage outdoor car show, Camaros were representing in full force, so there was ample amounts of F-body goodness for us enthusiasts to take in. And with over 400 aftermarket companies on the grounds showing of their latest and greatest parts, there was plenty of cool car stuff to peak the interest of any weekend warrior or professional car builder. It’s a virtual hot rod and muscle car paradise.
This is the event that the hardcore hot rodders as well as the casual muscle car fans can count on each year to showcase the best vintage muscle cars, street rods, and customs in the country. Whether you want to autocross your car, or just cruise the grounds and take it easy, it’s all part of the Goodguys Nats. And luckily for us Camaro enthusiasts, there’s virtually a plethora F-bodies around every corner.
For the first time ever, the Goodguys ran a special Sponsor Shootout Autocross featuring some of the top drivers and their muscle cars for a twelve-car qualifying field with $5,000 going to the sponsor with the winning car. The twelve Gooduys Autocross sponsors were all invited to bring in one car [of their choice] to compete in this exclusive competition.
Needless to say, the Sunday morning crowd—three deep at the fences—was treated to some fierce competition including two husband and wife teams (David and Mary Pozzi, and Kyle and Stacy Tucker) going head to head and beating each other by merely tenths of a second. The final round featured an epic Ford vs. Chevy clash between the East Coast favorite, Kyle Tucker, in his BFGoodrich-sponsored ’70 Camaro going up against Northern California’s autocross golden boy, Mike Maier, in his Bridgestone-sponsored ’66 Mustang.
Tucker was up first, and after an aggressive run at the course, lit up the timing board with a 32.571 second lap. Maier had been running at least that quick throughout the weekend. After his run, Tucker quickly pitted his Camaro and could only watch from behind the fence in hopes that Maier would make a mistake. It didn’t happen. With a near flawless run, he prevailed with a 32.442 second lap.
“It feels good,” said Maier as he congratulated Tucker after their race. “This entire group of drivers is awesome.”
This thrilling competition was such a huge success that the Goodguys have announced this competition will return in 2012 and promises to be just as exciting.