Over the weekend, nearly 13,000 rods and customs took over the Kentucky Expo Center in Louisville for the 50th NSRA Street Rod Nationals. The weather was beautiful and everywhere you looked there were cars, cars and more cars. It’s the most crowded Nats we’ve ever seen—and we were thrilled to be right there smack-dab in the middle of it all.

There was no shortage of vintage tin at this year’s Street Rod Nationals. It’s not every day that you have ’32 Ford hot rods for as far as the eye can see.

From Thursday through Sunday, our days and nights were filled with early iron and great conversations with friends new and old. There was a lot to be excited about in Louisville, including our 25th anniversary, the freshly printed TRJ #82 and our first-ever Street Rod Nationals Live video stream, sponsored by Jon Wright’s CustomChrome Plating. Even if you weren’t able to make it to Kentucky, you can catch all the action on our Facebook page.

Kentucky hot rodder Wayne Hurt had his eye on this ’34 Ford body for decades. When he finally got his hands on it, he built it into this wicked Y-block powered highboy. We got the full story from Wayne during one of our Facebook Live interviews, which you can watch by clicking the photo.
Hot rodding and trucks have gone hand-in-hand since our hobby’s earliest days, and we were impressed by the quantity and quality of haulers at the Street Rod Nationals. Not only did this ’40 Ford pickup have nicely weathered paint, it also had a bed full of parts ready for the swap meet. How cool is that?
Tim Thompson of Hinsdale, Illinois, is at it again. We featured his Deuce three-window and roadster back in TRJ #37, and we were drawn to his smallblock-powered three-window while we were in Louisville. The car sports a Rochester-injected smallblock Chevy and perfectly checked nitrocellulose lacquer.
One of the highlights of the Street Rod Nationals is seeing the cars cruising around the Kentucky Expo Center. Although we weren’t able to flag down the owner of this ’39 Ford coupe (he was on the move), we especially liked its early-’60s street racer look. Period touches include mismatched wheels, uncorked exhaust, waterslide decals and—of course—no hood.
Ever since the first Street Rod Nationals in Peoria, Illinois, half a century ago, the focus has always been on driving your car to the show. Of all the machines in attendance, we decided that Shannon Yeast’s slammed ’56 Chevy Suburban would have been perfect for hauling our staff—as well as our luggage and camera gear—across the country.
Along with the show, the Street Rod Nationals has a strong swap meet too. This particular vendor had it all, from the bones of a blown early Hemi to vintage steering wheels and a pair of banana seat muscle bikes. Is that a roadster pickup we see way off in the distance?
You never know what you’ll find in the swap area. We were shocked to see the “Texas Termite,” a genuine B/Gas Supercharged survivor for sale as a roller. The chopped ’32 Plymouth has racing history dating back to the late-’50s. The price? $13,000 or best offer. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t fit in our carry-on luggage.
When the sun went down on Saturday night, things got rowdy in Louisville. The street in front of the host hotel was a hotbed of activity and, just like the movies, there were burnouts, donuts and even a police helicopter keeping an eye on the action. This nose-up ’55 looks like it was ready to take on the Fastest Car in the Valley. It was all in good fun, and we can’t wait to see what next year brings.

Exclusive 50th Anniversary Photo Gallery