Multitudes in the Valley of Rodding
A couple of days later, I spent most of the day with the thousands of cars and trucks rumbling in and out of the expansive parking lot outside the expo center. Though just over 7,400 machines arrived for the 2020 Nationals, it didn’t feel like it. The same energy from years before kept the spectre at bay, allowing the real stars of the show to shine under the bright sun of my old Old Kentucky home.
While the lots held a dragon’s hoard of gems, the rear section offered a few for sale. The Nationals flea market was the place to be if you wanted a street rod of your own, or parts for the one already in your possession. Despite the smaller turnout, it was business as usual.
There’s also the opportunity to win a few awards at the Nationals. Or even a street rod of your own, which one could bring next year to win an award or two. All any participant needed to do was attend the giveaway at Freedom Hall, wait for their number to be called, and walk on down to receive the custom ride, followed by a photo-op with the builders.
As for the rest, the NSRA judges selected a handful of their faves for top honors, all of whom rolled into Freedom Hall for the final day of the Nationals to collect their trophies. Not to mention the various other awards and prize drawings after all was said and done.
One thing I never knew about the Nationals was what happened at the end of each day. Turned out I was missing quite a bit, in the form of an unofficial afterparty on the streets surrounding the expo center.
Along Crittenden Drive, where I stayed during the 2020 Nationals, a handful of onlookers pulled up their folding chairs to watch the various street machines cruise up and down the road. Some let it hang out a bit for those watching on the sidewalk throughout the evening, while others just did their thing.
However, there was a bigger show I had no idea was happening until I saw a few videos on Instagram, along with the lines of black rubber left all over Phillips Lane near the entrance to the expo center and Crowne Plaza Louisville Airport Expo Ctr I saw every day on my way to Gate 6. We’re talking burnouts up and down the road, y’all.
I believe I’ll have to book a room along that stretch next year, just to experience the madness at night.