Nearly ten years has passed since I first started hearing the praises of the Hot Rod Reunion in Bowling Green, Ky. My dad and I have always wanted to go but certain things have held us back. The main reason was that our great friends and former car club, Southern Illinois Street Rod Association, hold an annual Father's Day rod run which is the same weekend. The other reason being, we sold all of our running hot rods. The Hot Rod Reunion has been on our short list of "must attend" events for many years, we just never pulled the trigger, until now.
My friend Dustin was in town for Tom's wedding and he mentioned that he, his dad, two of his friends, and their dads were all making the trip down to Bowling Green this year. He talked us into going. I don't think it was too hard to convince me as soon as Tom said that we could take his '53 and when I realized that it would be an awesome father/son trip with my dad as well. I pitched the idea to dear old dad and he was all for it. I was pretty excited but then life did that thing, ya know, the thing where it messes up all of your plans. On Thursday, the day before we were to hit the road, my ol' man came down with a nasty cold. We were both hopeful that he would feel better in the morning, but when the time came, he thought it would be best to stay home and get better.
Looks like it was just going to be Tom and I making the trip in the primered Dodge. We had some great weather for the trouble-free drive east. We checked into our hotel real quick and pointed the car toward Beech Bend Raceway. It was afternoon already so we cruised right into the grounds and found ourselves a parking spot. We grabbed a couple brews and headed to the starting line to find Dustin and his dad.
I was thoroughly impressed with both the racetrack and the area for the show cars. I don't think an event like this could have a more perfect venue than Beech Bend Raceway. The hot rod parking has just enough grass, trees, and differing elevation to relax you, unlike some race tracks that are two acres of boiling pavement. Even the majority of the pits were grassy and surrounded by trees. The best part, though, is the drag strip area. First of all, the stands for spectators are covered. That alone is worth catching some vintage racing. You probably know how brutal a day in the sun can be. The awnings are so useful and even add to the character of the track. Another thing that's cool is that the track looks to be dug into the ground a couple feet. It just seems more conducive to good viewing, but it also makes you feel a little bit safer while standing at the fence as the cars fly past at 150 mph.
The field of cars in attendance were pretty impressive, both race and show. I saw a lot of really killer hot rods and customs. I was quite surprised at the quality of cars in the show and shine area. It's pretty much a given that you will see a handful of awful cars at events like this but I don't recall seeing anything terrible. Sure, there were cars that didn't fit my taste, but nothing that made me think, "WTF?". Then, you have the race cars; some just on display, some there for the cackle fest, exhibition push starts, and some to do real life racin'. All of them where pretty damn cool. It was one of the best displays of vintage race cars that I have ever laid eyes on in one place. I loved the seamless mixture of great vintage drag racing and the exhibition runs like the jet cars, the full track wheelie car, and the period correct push starts. There was never a dull moment on the quarter.
I was really wishing my dad was there with us all weekend but I knew he didn't want that to stop me from enjoying myself. I had a great time seeing all the perfect cars and hanging out with my buds. I'm pretty sure I'll be back next year. Hopefully my dad and I will be there together, celebrating Father's Day, in our '56 Buick. This one's for you, Dad. No upper respiratory infection will stop us next year!
|Tom's '53 Dodge Meadowbrook and my new Frost River rucksack.|
|Tom manning the wheel.|
|At the front gate of Beech Bend Raceway|
|'32 Ford 5-window coupe|
|Model A coupe|
|We found Dustin! Drag racing is loud!|
|Dave (Dustin's dad), Tom, and Dustin watch racing from behind the staging lanes|
|These two cars were beautiful and fast|
|Start Me Up|
|Love all the original trim on this Willys|
|A proper 'vette|
|Sky blue and some rubber too|
|Josh ordered the nachos on the left, he was served the nachos on the right|
|Another bad ass Corvette|
|Keeping 'em on the straight and narrow|
|Driving is a serious business|
|NOT the same car as above|
|The good kind of nasty|
|The covered stands were cooooool|
|I guarantee I was the only person at the Hot Rod Reunion watching drag racing AND the World Cup #Technology|
|This car did a wheel stand all the way down the track, then turned around and did one all the way back|
|Pretty impressive time for driving 1/4 mile with your front wheels in the air|
|Smoking epidemic in the U.S.A.|
|EVERYONE LOVES BURNOUTS!|
|WE LOVE BURNOUTS!|
|Take me home Kentucky roads|