The spectre at the gate
My ride for the 2020 edition of the Nationals was a 2020 Ram 1500 Limited on loan from Ram (which I recently reviewed). Not only was it a more fitting machine than the 2019 Nissan Maxima SV I rented last year, it felt like the right machine for the ongoing global pandemic: tough, secure, a presence intimidating enough to keep most others away.
Parking this Ram would’ve been a challenge in 2019, though the 360° Surround View Camera system would at least help me guide the 20-foot behemoth into the proper place.
However, the sparseness of 2020 meant I didn’t need to worry too much about pulling into a space over the four days of the Nationals.
A couple of happenings from the Nationals went missing in 2020, though none had anything to do with the pandemic.
The first was the Streetkhana. As NSRA marketing director Jim Rowlett said to me, the ownership of the autocross event — designed to prove street rods could corner like everything else — changed hands in the months before the 2020 Nationals. Said changing of the guard included a few snags along the way, leading to its absence.
The second was the pre-Nationals parade from Cardinal Stadium at the University of Louisville to the Fourth Street Live entertainment district downtown.
On the night of March 13th, 2020, three Louisville Metro Police Department officers used a no-knock warrant to forcibly enter the home of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman and emergency medical technician.
Rightfully assuming she and their home were under attack by intruders, her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, defended everything he loved.
During the defense of their home, eight shots from the officers’ guns — plus a long delay in emergency care after the shooting — killed Taylor.
Since then, and in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, a Black man killed by police in Minneapolis, Downtown Louisville serves to this day as the backdrop for protests in demand for one thing:
Justice for Breonna Taylor, through the arrest, charging and prosecution of her killers.
As the arrests have yet to occur, the protests continue as of this writing.
Thus, no street rods rolled into Fourth Street Live in 2020.