The Goodguys Rod & Custom Association knows how to throw a hot rod party, and the Goodguys Nationals in Columbus is the granddaddy of them all. We can’t say for sure what makes the Ohio Expo Center an epicenter for all things high octane; maybe it’s the physical proximity to the greatest selection of muscle cars on the planet (that being the heart of the Midwest), or maybe it’s just the sheer size of the place, but hot rodders and spectators come from all over the country just to make the scene.

Walk through the car show and your senses are assaulted by the color, creativity, power, and energy of the place. The pungent odors of oil, gas, and burning rubber mix joyously with deep-fried funnel cakes, barbecued turkey legs, and burgers on the grill. A phalanx of car builders, speed vendors, and hot rodders mix and converge in a random car orgy that spans a three-day weekend following the Fourth of July holiday. Even Congress got involved, naming the Friday kicking off the event as National Collector Car Appreciation Day.

Our interests, however, were focused on two activities: the PHR Street Machine Autocross (Columbus was one of five autocrosses sponsored by the mag that awards a custom jacket to the winner of each), and the annual Street Machine of the Year competition, sponsored by Optima Batteries. As it so happens, both of these activities merge at the autocross course where regular guys, vendors, car builders, and pro racers square off against each other in sometimes lopsided battles. It’s all in good fun, and rest assured that if you’re singled out for a friendly ribbing from autocross announcer Chad Reynolds, you’re in fine company.

The pungent odors of oil, gas, and burning rubber mix joyously with deep-fried funnel cakes, barbecued turkey legs, and burgers ...

Noteworthy is the fact that many of the industry’s top suspension, tire, steering, and brake vendors are present, and indeed participating with their own cars or those of their customers. In a matter of speaking, this separates the men from the boys; if a company takes its goods on the road to the Goodguys autocross, you can bet they are exposing their products to the most extreme public scrutiny. For PHR readers with a competition bent, this is good news. Go to the Goodguys autocross, and you’re sure to find a wealth of practical experience for your steed, not to mention great on-site support.

The PHR Street Machine Autocross moves next to the Speedway Nationals at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on September 16 - 18. (Yep, you read right: street machines at the brickyard!) Then, it’s on to the season finale at the Fall Nationals in Del Mar, California, on November 25 - 27. Make sure you hit us up for all the action! In the meantime, head over to PopularHotRodding.com to see the Columbus photo extravaganza; we’ve got tons of extra photos!

…rest assured that if you’re singled out for a friendly ribbing from autocross announcer Chad Reynolds, you’re in fine company.