For many hot rodders, the pinnacle of the event season is the Goodguys PPG Nationals, held the second weekend in July at the Ohio state fairgrounds in Columbus, Ohio. It's a huge gathering, with thousands of cars sprawled across the hundred-acre venue. Veteran attendees know better than to go for just one day-this show needs all three days to get the maximum benefit.
The Goodguys gathering in Columbus is huge for a reason-if you stick a pin in a map at Columbus and draw a 500-mile radius around it, you'll find 75 percent of the country's hot rods inside that small circle. Columbus is hot rod central, and few places outside the Ohio state fairgrounds are large enough to host the event at the level Goodguys members are accustomed to.
For 2008, the Goodguys Rod & custom Association experienced an epiphany of sorts. For some time, the number of muscle cars at their events had been on the rise, and the acceptance of them among the more staunch street rodders has finally been realized. The turning point came as participants, along with key vendors involved with handling and suspension components, realized their dream of holding a live-action autocross. Called the Street Challenge Autocross, this event has turned out to be a crowd favorite, with hundreds of spectators (and show-car converts) turning out for the action.
The Street Challenge Auto...
The Street Challenge Auto Cross is always a popular event at any Goodguys show, but at the PPG Nationals in Columbus, it's required for all cars entered in the Street Machine Of The Year competition. Here, Glen Baugus wrings out his '72 'Cuda through the tight course.
The Columbus event has always been home to the Street Machine Of The Year event, in which the top builders battle it out for honors in a build style we've come to know as Pro Touring, or g-Machine. The build style is characterized by max-effort suspensions, grippy tires, big brakes, and flexible powertrains. As Pro Touring cars become more exotic and packed full of the newest technology, many in the hobby wondered if there was a commensurate level of real performance to go along with all that style. When handing out the SMOY award in years past, there was always that nagging question: These cars can talk the talk, but can they really walk the walk?
Already a rousing success, the Street Challenge autocross would be the perfect crucible in which to test the mettle of the SMOY competitors at this year's PPG Nationals. So it came to pass that a bevy of high-end muscle cars-some deep into the six-figure price range-hit the timed autocross in mind-bending fury. With that said, at this point in time, the actual lap times don't affect the ranking or judging, they merely proudly reinforce, or embarrassingly disprove a car's status as a bona fide performer. Perhaps at some later date, the autocross lap times will be the basis of ranking, or perhaps a maximum lap e.t. could be established for SMOY entrants. Either way, we can't complain. It's the right move for this stand-out class of cars.
At the end of the day, Erv Woller of North Lake, Wisconsin, won the Street Machine Of The Year contest with his '69 Camaro, but to say that the PPG Nationals is just a playground for high-end muscle machines would be false. We enjoy coming to Columbus every year because of the tremendous variety of cars, from high end, to Joe six-pack. Man can't live on a diet of '69 Camaros alone, and the Columbus crowd gave us a great selection of makes and models to salivate over. We've tried to show here the range of machines at Columbus this past July, and hope you'll make the effort to join us next year when we visit again!
Pardon Me, Sir ...
... but do you have any Grey Poupon? You'll have to forgive Tod Weston if his '70 Rolls Royce Silver Shadow is a bit cartoonish, but it really does represent the best of both worlds. "I had the Rolls Royce, and I always loved Hemis as a kid," says Tod, "so I thought, why not put two great things together?" Yes indeed, why not? Tod is a real estate lawyer from Fort Lauderdale, FL, so what better way to break the ice with clients at the golf course than with a Rolls powered by a 472ci Ray Barton-built Hemi? Tod credits Little Joe's Hot Rods in Denver, NC, for putting his highbrow Hemi together.
Street Machine Of The Year
The country's top award for a performance-based Street Machine was presented to North Lake, Wisconsin's Erv Woller. Woller's '69 Camaro. Known as "RAZOR," it was built by the Ring brothers of Spring Green, Wisconsin-the same team that produced last year's Street Machine of the Year winner. That's the first time in the 14-year history of the award the winning car was produced by the same build team in consecutive seasons.
Featuring a two-tone gray and orange design, "Hunter" leather interior, carbon fiber hood and decklid, a Detroit Speed & Engineering Quadralink suspension, and one-off custom Budnik wheels, Woller's Camaro exudes class and ingenuity. Both Mike and Jim Ring, known for their ability to design and fabricate parts from carbon fiber as well as their finesse in body and paint applications, completely repainted RAZOR during a 96-hour period over the Fourth of July holiday weekend. The car debuted June 27 at a Goodguys event in Nashville, and when the car hit the sunlight, they saw some flaws they knew would not serve the car well in Columbus at the Street Machine Of The Year judging. "It was a painful decision," says Jim Ring. "Mike and I were at each other's throats and our wives may never talk to us again. It had to be done. You build a car like this for this event and this award. It means everything."
Woller expressed his gratitude for all the hard work of the build team. "When you embark on a project like this, you become family with everyone involved in the car. It's a project that takes a lot of resources and countless hours. I couldn't be prouder."