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The 2011 Car Craft Summer Nationals

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What a summer it has been: The stock market took a dive, fuel costs fluctuated wildly, and record numbers of people remain unemployed. While Congress can’t seem to agree on how to fix our stagnant economy, if polled, they would all reach across the aisle to issue this decree: The ’11 Car Craft Summer Nationals presented by GM Performance Division was a resounding success. Even a Minnesota state government shutdown couldn’t crush the spirit of our faithful readers and show-goers, though for a few tense moments we worried a potential closure of the fairgrounds would scuttle this year’s show.

It seems the fairgrounds are staffed with enough nongovernment employees that it remained open throughout, while most government institutions were shuttered. So it was business as usual at our summer home-away- from-home, and people turned out in droves seeking a fun distraction amid the sea of depressing reality. And we offered distractions galore. Cars? Of course. What’s your pleasure? We had Pro Street, Pro Touring, monster trucks, family trucksters, sleepers, rat rods, and pro-beaters in attendance. Girls? Yup. The fairer sex was well represented in the crowd. A few of them were even brave enough to show some skin in the Miss Car Craft Summer Nationals bikini contest. Food? Check. The fairgrounds were sporting a couple of new fine dining establishments this year, and the food stands that have typically been closed in the past were open for business this weekend, serving the best Midwestern fair food we’ve had the pleasure of sampling. Kids? Yeah, we even planned activities for future car crafters like Revell’s Make-N-Take. Someone smarter than we staffers pitched the idea to the folks at Revell, and they agreed to provide model kits of a ’69 Camaro (what else would you expect?) for kids and their parents to put together. Competition? Naturally, Real Street Eliminator returned to the show for the third straight year. Pitting old cars against new cars in a series of challenges, we crowned three champions (Vettes and Vipers were grouped in a separate class) on Sunday afternoon, the results of which may surprise you. Knowledge? That was also new this year at the Royal Purple DIY garage. We invited several of our vendors to give panel discussions on their latest products and innovations in 60-minute sessions throughout the weekend. We also introduced the Car Craft Pro-Builder Shootout presented by Pioneer Car Audio this year, a competition among some of the nation’s top builders who were cool enough to attend the show. The winner was chosen completely by you, our readers. If that wasn’t enough entertainment for the most blue-blooded car lover, you’d better check your pulse—you might actually be deceased.

The Crowd

One compelling reason to go to the Summer Nationals is for the camaraderie. It’s like hanging out with more than 30,000 of your closest friends who brought more than 5,000 vehicles, and all of them want to talk cars.

The Cars

The Car Craft Summer Nationals presented by GM Performance Division always draws a stellar group of cars, but there are a few that stand out, even in this worthy group. Here are some of the highlights.

GM Cars

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