It’s like one of those impossible English Composition class assignments: Describe the Summer Nationals in just one paragraph. Not gonna happen; the show defies labels. You can’t simply put it in a tidy box marked “muscle car show.” It’s Car Craft’s huge, annual street-machine get together held every July at the state fairgrounds in St. Paul, Minnesota. It’s more than a car show—it’s got cruising, seminars, kids’ activities, burnouts, bikinis, fairground food, and more. The cars in attendance are just as eclectic. We’ve got Pro-Street next to Pro-Touring, next to primer rods, and show-car restorations two cars over. We’ve also got competition in the form of Car Craft’s Real Street Eliminator, the results of which we will cover next month. Unlike on that class assignment, here at the magazine we have the luxury of including photos with our words, and that makes it easier to tell the story. So enough with the blabber—here are the pics.
This year’s show was sponsored in a big way by Chevrolet Performance, and, frankly, it wou
Our favorite display car was the COPO Camaro, rumored to be one of the first made. We’ll b
Another perennial favorite is the historic engine display, which Chevrolet Performance cha
Prior to the official start of the show, QA1 had an open house at its facility in nearby L
Ladder bars and mudflaps!
Pro Builder Shootout
Pro Builder Shootout is a concept that debuted last year. This year’s competitors were top notch, and their cars were stunning. This year’s pros were:
D & Z Customs: ’69 AMX
Lakeside Rods and Rides: ’71 Camaro
Muscle Car Restoration: ’72 Barracuda
Rad Rods by Troy: ’55 Chevy
The Ring Brothers: ’65 Mustang
Roadster Shop: ’69 Camaro
Schwartz Performance: ’81 Trans Am
Woody’s Hot Rodz: ’57 Chevy
All voting was done by the public, so we magazine snobs had no influence on the results. This year’s winner was Woody’s Hot Rodz, with its breathtakingly beautiful ’57 Chevy. See all the cars and read the pros’ bios on CarCraft.com.
Editor’s Choice Awards
Another returning feature is the Editor’s Choice Awards, cars handpicked by our fearless leader, Editor Glad himself. He can be open to influence with a good cup of coffee and open headers, so file that away for next year. This year’s top pick went to Rob Warden and his newly built ’64 Dodge. Coincidentally, Doug was freshly caffeinated, and Rob’s car hadn’t even been to the muffler shop yet, so with a big, loud Hemi and arresting Viper Red paint, this was actually an easy choice to make. Rob had the difficult task of standing for pictures with the ultra-hot General Tire girl upon receiving his plaque. Look for a full feature on his ultra-hot Dodge soon.
Best in Show: Rob Warden’s ’64 Dodge 330
Best Chevrolet: Rick Goble’s ’64 Chevrolet Chevelle
Best Ford: Mike Nagel’s ’70 Ford Torino
Best BOP: Tom Van Kempen’s ’71 Pontiac Trans Am
Best Brand X: Jim Nelson’s ’59 AMC American
Best Pro Street: Greg Murphy’s ’76 Chevrolet Monza
Best Pro Touring: Nathan Shaw’s ’71 Chevrolet Nova
Top Gun Paint : Gary Nelson’s ’69 Ford Mustang
Innovation Award: Jeff Carl’s Ford Bronco
Royal Purple DIY Garage
We invited top industry experts again this year to give seminars on products and new technologies in the performance industry. Representatives from Comp Cams, Royal Purple, TREMEC Transmissions, TCI, Miller Electric, Meguiar’s, Painless Performance, and QA1 were present to show their stuff and answer your questions.
Bruce Couture from Modern Driveline and Nate Tovey from TREMEC discussed synchros and toot
“Friction: good for tires, bad for engine bearings,” was the gist of Royal Purple’s Kyle N
Officials from Comp kept an eagle eye on both teams, making sure Jeff didn’t pull any maga
Comp Cams brought a cool twist to its presentations: It held the Engine Builder Duel compe
In the end, Team Car Craft just nosed out a victory over Doug and Matt Lebeis, a pair of g
Real Street Eliminator
With a list of competitors growing bigger each year, Real Street Eliminator was a strong draw this weekend, both among competitors and spectators. The components include the QA1 Autocross, Car Craft Launch Box, and Lucas Oil/E3 Dyno Challenge. Winners from each of the three classes were crowned Sunday afternoon. A full account of all the RSE action will run next month.
You didn’t have to be a Real Street Eliminator competitor to try your hand on the autocross course or chassis dyno, however. The autocross was open to any registered show participant, and for $50, Andy Wickes of Dyno Tune USA would strap your car to the rollers and give you the good (or bad) news.
Revell Make -N-Take
Here’s a cool attraction for the kids and their not-so-grown-up parents. For the second year in a row, Revell had a bunch of model cars for kids to build Saturday afternoon. The parents all said the activity was a nice break in the day, and the kids got to build cars of their own. Here, Caden Scott, 9, and his father, Chris, put together Revell’s ’69 Camaro model. The two made the 700-mile trip from Brandon, Manitoba, to be at the show.
The Miss Car Craft Summer Nationals Contest
We won’t waste too much space here talking about the contest, other than to say the folder for the bikini pictures takes up more drive space on our computers than the rest of the show coverage pictures do. Judging by the size of the crowd gathered at the Miller main stage, we’re guessing we aren’t the only ones in that situation.
Here are this year’s top five finalists:
1st : Desiree Allen
2nd : Ashley Lamella
3rd : Lauren Keller
4th : Laurel Fishbach
5th : Chrissy Wood
Yes, the Nats are awesome—we put on the show, so of course we’re going to say that. We thought it would be interesting to see the show from a participant’s point of view.
Alex McGaughey: Alex is just 13 years old, but he is the owner of this ’79 Trans Am. He sh
One of Alex’s favorite cars in attendance was Jim Robinson’s ’71 ’Cuda. Jim tells us he’s
Jason Kennedy: Jason had registered his ’84 Mercury Capri to be in the show, but it broke
Jason was struck by how many Torinos there were. “Here are two great-looking ones in the s
Photo: Jason Kennedy
Jason was also a fan of this ’62 Rambler American, with its understated exterior and finel
Steve Strope: Pro-Builder in his own right, Steve was at the show this year helping as the emcee in the Royal Purple DIY Garage. During a brief moment when he wasn’t yapping into the mic, we grabbed him to get his take on the show: “The vibe is unique; it’s not like the car shows we’re used to in Southern California. This place isn’t stifled by emissions laws, so different body styles can be built. I love the variety, too. Here, I’m standing in front of a Pro-Touring Mustang. But if I turn around, I’m now looking at a Pro-Street ’55 [Chevy]. Next to it is a smoothie-style Camaro, and a few cars down the row is a Street Machine Buick GS. I grew up in the Midwest and miss shows like this. It’s refreshing to be here. Guys just build their cars they way they like them—they aren’t worried about what the current big trend is.”