Once upon a time, a gearhead had to make a tough choice when he got to a certain fork in the road with his hot rod: Do I build it for show and spend my weekends polishing paint, or do I go to the track and wring it out? Perhaps you're at a stage in your involvement with the hobby where that question no longer seems valid, and the losing side of that equation has long since been stashed away in the proverbial attic with other ancient regrets. The fundamental choice of "show" or "go" is one we face early on in our hot rodding life, but the Goodguys folks say, "Why not do both?"
Many years ago, the Goodguys Rod & Custom Association realized their attendees were increasingly interested in muscle cars. That makes a lot of sense, considering the changing demographic of the average show entrant. While street rods are still a prime force, muscle cars now make up a significant part of the Goodguys event roster. And something else became clear too: Muscle car owners not only drive their cars, they like to beat on them too.
Nevertheless, until recently, hard-core muscle car lovers could only dream about beating on their hot rods in a show type of environment. The best they could hope for was a top showing at Goodguys' Street Machine of the Year competition, held every July at the Ohio State Fairgrounds in Columbus. Two years ago that changed when Goodguys introduced an exciting wrinkle in the program: the Street Challenge Autocross. Prior to that, detractors referred to Pro Touring machines in derogatory terms because they were substantially perceived as street-rodded muscle cars. What happened next surprised everybody. Once the autocross was introduced to most of the Goodguys venues (those of which were large enough to handle them), not only did muscle cars line up to run the circuit in the hundreds, but street rod guys also wanted in on the action.
When the Street Challenge...
When the Street Challenge Autocross is in session at the Goodguys PPG Nationals, it's standing room only. Call us crazy, but fast-moving cars will get our attention a lot quicker than non-moving cars. These muscle car fans agree too.
So that begs the question, when you meet the fork in the road and make that decision to be a car show guy, an autocross wiz, a drag racer, or an open-track freak, do you ever really abandon your other car dreams? For the folks we saw at the Goodguys Street Challenge Autocross, the answer is clearly a resounding "No!"
For their part, Goodguys does a great job surrounding the muscle car enthusiast with every single thing a muscle car lover needs. If they don't have it, you probably don't need it. That especially holds true now with the autocross-tires, suspensions, chassis, brakes, wheels, safety gear, you name it, you can equip a serious track predator with stuff you can find at a Goodguys show. It's not just paint, chrome, upholstery, and sheetmetal, although there is certainly plenty of that too.
In the final analysis, however, a Goodguys show-and the PPG Nationals in particular-is just good family fun. You won't find Jell-O wrestling, wet T-shirt contests, bouncing cars, or windshield-shattering stereos. Of course, when the occasional burnout contest starts spontaneously after hours, the local authorities do a great job looking the other direction, which is an added bonus.
This year, we were impressed with the strength of the muscle car hobby and the fine showing in Columbus. We met a lot of new friends and reconnected with old ones, and that's something that we always look forward to at the PPG Nationals.
Should have Been A Contender!
Unfortunately, there are only five finalist spots for the Street Machine of the Year competition and if it were up to us, we would've chosen Brad Riepe's '68 Plymouth Roadrunner to be in that elite group. We know very little about the 'Runner except that it's got a 599ci Pro Stock Hemi that Riepe claims 1,300 hp on. Handling credentials come via a Viper suspension, Wilwood brakes, a custom four-link Dana 60 rear, and a five-speed trans (most likely a Richmond, given the horsepower).
Celina Williams, a 36-year-old...
Celina Williams, a 36-year-old marketing consultant from Cornelia, Georgia, was there to support her husband, Brian, and his sweet-running '67 Camaro. It has an all-aluminum 427-ci LS7, DSE Quadralink rear suspension, Baer brakes, RideTech TigerCage, Tremec five-speed, Moser 12-bolt, and a Paul Atkins interior
We can't ever get enough Chevelles,...
We can't ever get enough Chevelles, and this '66 owned by Mike Hammond was looking good running the autocross. Power comes from a 499ci big-block, and feeds a five-speed Tremec. Wilwood brakes do the stopping with help from Toyo tires on Intro wheels.
If you're looking for a deal...
If you're looking for a deal on a starter project car, the Goodguys car corral is a great place to start. Mopars are typically priced out of our range, but this killer '73 Dodge Satellite was in mint condition with perfect paint, nice interior, and working A/C for just $8,500 (OBO). Trust us, these cars are going to be big!