The NSRA Southeast Street Rod Nationals is an event we really look forward to each year, and havent missed covering since the magazines inception. We have a booth inside the air conditioned vendors building, love getting out and taking photos of the gorgeous vehicles, and we always get to catch up with some friends during the course of the three day show. For 2005 the dates were October 14-16, and Im not sure how it happened this year but that same weekend was also when the Lake Mirror Classic was being held in Lakeland (youll find coverage of it on pages 18-22). Both of these events are truly great and in the past have not conflicted, so it was a real shame to only get to go to one. Plus as always the World Street Nationals drag race at Orlando Speed World Dragway conflicted with the NSRA Nats, which while that is also a drag (sorry, bad pun), we have become used to that over the years.
Despite the overlap of events the 18th Annual Southeast Street Rod Nationals managed to draw a record number of entries, with the total coming to 1,413. That almost certainly was aided by the absolutely gorgeous weather, and there was some speculation too that because unfortunately the Cruisin The Coast event in Mississippi was canceled due to hurricane Katrina damage, that maybe some people that usually go there took a trip to Tampa instead this year. Whatever the case, Im glad it was a great turnout, and the higher cost of fuel didnt seem to keep anyone from making the trek from all over Florida, and from out of the state as well.
For those who came early the guys at Hercules Motor Cars hosted their annual open house, and while we didnt make it over, we did hear reports that it was a great time. Things got off to an early start on Friday at the Fairgrounds, with show cars rolling in starting at 8:00am. The Tampa Knights host club invited all those that were interested to join their annual Poker Run and a cruise around the area. By mid afternoon, though there were no official numbers announced, the increased turnout could be sensed as there were rows and rows of rods all over. After a good day of taking in all the sights and sounds at the Fairgrounds it was then time to hit the Kick-Off party at the host hotel. There was live entertainment inside, but we never made it out of the parking lot as there was even livelier entertainment outside....in the form of old friends and a few new acquaintances - including a guy by the name of Cotton from Georgia that had our group in stitches on several occasions with his jokes and stories.
Saturday was just about a carbon copy of the previous day, with beautiful weather, tons of great show cars, and lots of great people to share it all with. While there was entertainment at night at the Fairgrounds, we opted for round two back at the Host Hotel.
Sunday we of course checked out the Winners Circle area, taking pictures of the vehicles that got the respective picks. Then we once again made our way around the whole Fairgrounds, including the swap meet, car corral, vendors building, and even the arts and crafts area. Soon it was time for the drive-thru awards presentation, and the conclusion of the $99,000 in Super Prize Giveaways culminated with giving away the brand new Chevy Colorado pickup. Dave Wing, a member of the Early Irons of Orlando was the lucky one to have his ticket drawn for the truck, but everyone else took comfort in knowing we were all lucky to have been part of such a great event.
Many thanks to the NSRA, the Tampa Knights and all the other clubs that volunteered, for putting on another great Southeast Nats....and well see you next year! For more info about the 2006 show you can call 574-875-4032 or visit www.nsra-usa.com. CN