Another Year at the NSRA Nats South

I’ve been going to the NSRA Street Rod Nationals South for as long as I can remember. It’s always held on the first weekend of May and it was once a happenin’ event with more than 4,000 cars in attendance. However, the crowd has dwindled as of late, due to a number of factors, including the age of the participants and their willingness to sit out in the sun (or rain) the entire weekend. Regardless of that, I still go because it’s a great place to find vehicles to photograph, whether it’s for my magazine side work or for use in Coker marketing materials.

NSRA Street Rod Nationals South Knoxville, TN

The Saturday crowd ended up being pretty big…this picture was taken in the morning, but by mid afternoon, the fairgrounds looked packed as always.

NSRA Street Rod Nationals South Knoxville, TN

Loved this Shoebox Ford….good stance and the right color!

Normally I just drive a regular vehicle to the Nats South, and this was definitely the case when the NSRA regulated its participants to 1948 and older vehicles. I don’t have anything that old. So, now that NSRA lifted the age requirement and replaced it with a weird 30-year sliding scale, the Corvette is legal. With my recent desire to drive the Corvette more often, I figured this would be a good chance to get it out and put some miles on it. Here are some problems I ran into:

1. Weird vibrations at various speeds
2. Mysterious loss of power while in downtown Knoxville (great timing)
3. Window regulator malfunction on driver’s side making it nearly impossible to roll the window down.
4. Bolts holding the shift lever vibrated loose.

NSRA Street Rod Nationals South Knoxville, TN

The ol’ Corvette parked next to Gerry Burger’s freshly-finished ’40 Ford pickup.

At least there were no major breakdowns on the trip, but these annoyances will need to be repaired soon or my desire to drive it will likely go away. Anyway, regardless of the car’s issues, I got plenty of work done over the course of the weekend.

NSRA Street Rod Nationals South Knoxville, TN

This ’40 Ford coupe has been parking in this spot for a LONG time. It still wears a slick paint job, and those Corvette knock-off wheels.

So, if you’re familiar with the NSRA you know there is an age gap between me (25 years old) and the majority of its participants. There is also a gap in styles, meaning that my car fell somewhere in the middle…which is ok with me. I like the middle. These gaps never really bothered me as a spectator, but when I actually drove my car onto the fairgrounds, it made me realize that I’m just a kid in the eyes of these long-time rodders. Again, that’s ok, but it kinda makes you wonder what the old timers are saying about “that kid in the rough Corvette”.

That’s one thing that really makes me appreciate my friendship with Gerry Burger. He’s been a hot rodder for more than 40 years and he taught me pretty much everything I know about the magazine world. I worked for him at Buckaroo and now I work alongside him as a freelancer, and we’ve always been on the same page in terms of “what’s cool”. Having a friend like Gerry helps bridge the gaps, and it lets me continue to feed off his immense knowledge of the hobby. Either way, that’s enough rambling from me…see the full gallery of pictures here!

NSRA Street Rod Nationals South Knoxville, TN

Hey, there’s another young person with a hot rod! Josh Kaylor, another co-worker from the Buckaroo days always drives his International pickup to the Nats South. His truck sits just right and has an LS engine swap.

NSRA Street Rod Nationals South Knoxville, TN

Ok, this guy gets it. He took his ’57 Chevy 210 wagon and gave it a whole new personality with gray-center five-spokes in the front and steelies out back.

NSRA Street Rod Nationals South Knoxville, TN

This orange ’33 coupe is always parked atop the hill when you cross through the tunnel. I take a picture of this car every year.

NSRA Street Rod Nationals South Knoxville, TN

My magazine friends would make fun of me for taking a picture of this car, but this is what I remember seeing as a kid. I’m sure this car was around way back when, so that means the chopped top, colorful stripes and Centerlines are ok by me. Don’t hate on outdated cars…one day they’ll be considered nostalgic.


39 thoughts on “Another Year at the NSRA Nats South

  1. I love reading blogs about carfests. The photos always make me smile. You have some glorious shots here πŸ™‚ The radiator ‘facial expressions’ just crease me up. What can I say: I love old cars. Thanks so much for sharing these – they’ve brightened my evening.

  2. I’m one of the old guys that can appreciate your cool old vette,you might remember me and the wife,,,you took the photos of my 32 Ford truck that was featured on the Coker Catalog a couple of years ago.

    We drove the Ranch Wagon this year,,you can barely see it background in the photo of the black 50 Ford.

    Thanks for the coverage. Danny aka hotrodprimer

    • Yes sir I remember you guys and the truck! I gave your wagon a once over on Friday and planned to get with you on Saturday to get some pictures of it for Coker, but I didn’t see where you guys ended up parking. Great looking car Danny!


  3. The red chopped rod with the side stripes is my favorite. It is unique and memorable. Unlike so many ‘seen one, seen them all’, other cookie cutter builds. It is what I look for when I go to shows, the original. Thanks for the great pics. Also, your vette is awesome. Just get some mags on the rear, pls. πŸ™‚

  4. Love car shows! I grew up strolling the Rod Run in Kernville, CA each year with my dad and grandpa. They don’t make them like they used to.
    Thanks for writing!
    Check me out at sometime.

  5. I love a good car show. Here in SoCal, we are fortunate to have them year round. But my favorites are during the summer. It makes me feel like what life would have been like in the 50’s and 60’s, when the cars were brand new. I don’t know why, but it does. Your show looked like a great one…

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