For the first time in over 10 years, I made it out to the NSRA event in Louisville, Kentucky, which just happens to be the granddaddy of their event schedule: the 47th Annual Street Rod Nationals. For those who don’t know, NSRA isn’t an acronym for an offshoot pro-gun supporter’s group. Nope, it stands for the National Street Rod Association. This group of hot rod enthusiasts/show promoters has been around for decades and over the years have garnered the reputation for being the “old guys” on the car show block. Yes, they have a reputation for being somewhat “mature” and set in their ways, but with their 30-year rolling cutoff for cars allowed to enter their events, there were a good percentage of ’60s and ’70s muscle cars in attendance.
Now that was all good, but what really got me off my ass and on a plane was the fact that for the first time ever at their “big show,” an autocross was to be featured as part of the event. For those who know me, car shows are pretty much the last thing I’d like to attend. I’m just not the kind of guy who is going to park my ride and break out an aluminum chair and treat myself to a few “coldies” and a PB&J sandwich. I’m not knocking it, it’s just not fun for me.
So, how did these set-in-their-ways dudes at the NSRA finally figure out that having an autocross at their main event would be a good thing? I don’t know the complete lowdown, but I’m betting they saw how other show promoters were enjoying the additional draw of participants and spectators by having an autocross at their events over the past 10-or-so years (I never said these guys react quickly), and figured to give it a go. In speaking with Brian Finch and Bill Howell of The Autocross Guys (autocrossguys.com), they informed me the NSRA invited them to come out with their cones and timing equipment and set up a course at their Springfield event for a test run to see if it was a good fit … it was. So much so that the NSRA asked them to bring their gear to the Street Rod Nats in Louisville and do it all again. And how’d that go over? Let’s just say you’ll be seeing autocross at more NSRA events in 2017, that’s for sure.
All this excessive tire shredding got me to thinking about how far this autocross-at-car-shows-thing has come. Obviously, there are quite a few of us who like to put those pretty suspension bits to good use, so it doesn’t look like this hobby, sport, or whatever you want to call it is slowing down at all. In fact, with the NSRA jumping on board, it looks to have grabbed another gear.
So, as you make plans to hit the next outdoor car show, it’s probably a good idea to leave your fold-out chair and bologna sammies at home and give this autocross thing a try. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did. And once you get a few car-show-sized autocrosses under your belt, you’re gonna want to get on a fullsized SCCA autocross track where you actually use Third, and quite possibly even Fourth gear. That will absolutely blow your mind.