My love of classic cars is something I can’t really explain – I didn’t have a cool grandfather who let me drive his old Buick or anything like that. Despite this, I have developed a real love of pre-60s era automobiles. Imagine my reaction at the prospect of attending the 45th annual Street Rod Nationals, right here in Louisville.
The drive into the expo center was amazing. While attempting to find my designated parking lot, I passed hundreds of restored cars of virtually every possible make and model. They sat in rows and rows and rows of kaleidoscope color, cherry red to jet black.
After parking, I wandered through the vendor area, wondering where all the cars were (I am obviously not very familiar with the layout of the Kentucky Expo Center). Finally, after browsing stalls of handmade jewelry and Kentucky-made bloody mary mix, I wandered through a door and into a brightly lit room. In the room sat maybe a dozen pristine cars. Chevrolets and Plymouths were parked and roped off, looking like they had just come off the line. It was at that point that I looked around me and realized that I was definitely attending as part of the lowest age percentile.
Passing through this room led me back outside, again faced with rows and rows of cars, as well as hoards of people and food vendors. White-haired men leaned under open hoods, pointing at parts of the engines that I could never identify. Groups of men sat under canopies while families lounged in the grass.
The beating sun, shining off of miles of cars and pavement (as well as my ill-advised choice to wear all black), left me wishing for death while savoring the brief moments when a breeze would move through. Others were feeling the heat, too. There were a lot of older men using scooters to get around. I realized that it made sense – most of the people there were as old as the cars on display.
All in all, I would say that the 45th Annual Street Rod Nationals was an astounding success. Not only did I get to look at thousands of cars (there were 10,211 registered in attendance), but it gave thousands of people the opportunity to turn back the figurative hands of time and enjoy life as they once had – Sitting in the grass beside the old Buick.
View the slideshow below:
Photos: Donald Vish and Michelle Eigenheer