Hot Rods Are Hot -- Whatever Their Style 5th Annual Holley NHRA National Hot Rod Reunion Showcases Surprising Variety, Jun. 15-17, National Trail Raceway COLUMBUS, Ohio -- (June 5, 2007) -- What is a hot rod? What makes them hot? And how...
Hot Rods Are Hot -- Whatever Their Style
5th Annual Holley NHRA National Hot Rod Reunion Showcases Surprising Variety, Jun. 15-17, National Trail Raceway
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- (June 5, 2007) -- What is a hot rod? What makes them hot? And how does a style and lifestyle, begun over 70 years ago, stay so popular? The answers can be found at the 5th Annual Holley NHRA National Hot Rod Reunion, presented by SoffSeal, June 17-19, National Trail Raceway, near Columbus Ohio.
Hot rodding began in the late 1930s but exploded immediately after World War II when young men took castoff cars, stripped them down and added junkyard parts from other cars to create vehicles that could outperform some of the best in the world. With their intuitive engineering and form-follows- function sense of style, these ingenious pioneers changed the face of American motorsports and automotive culture.
The National Hot Rod Reunion began in 2003 and has its roots in the now 16- year-old California Hot Rod Reunion, held in the fall. NHRA staff came up with the idea of holding a one-time event to celebrate the early days of hot rodding and drag racing. The Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum, presented by the Automobile Club of Southern California, took over, and now the event is one of the premier car enthusiast affairs in the country. It's one where the earliest forms of hot rodding live comfortably with the most contemporary.
"The American hot rod is an interesting paradox," said Greg Sharp, curator of the Parks Museum and one of the nation's foremost authorities on hot rodding and early motorsports. "While there are definite rules regarding what makes a hot rod, the creativity and ingenuity of builders both past and present allow for tremendous variation within those rules. And at the Reunion you can see it all: traditional, smoothies, rat rods."
The broadest definition of a hot rod would be a car that has been modified in both appearance and for performance. Most enthusiasts would narrow this definition to include only cars that were originally from 1947 or earlier. Fords from the mid-1930s were and are the most desired base on which to build a hot rod, with 1932 Ford roadsters and coupes the undisputed quintessential hot rods. In fact, so desirable are these body styles that reproductions of these models are now being manufactured in both steel and fiberglass.
Over the decades, hot rod fads have come and gone; the all-show-and-no-go show rods of the '60s, the resto-rods of the 1970s, the 1990s fascination with monochromatic versions using lots of billet aluminum parts, and now back to the traditional looking cars that mimic early, classic hot rods.
What's the next trend?
It's an evolution of the traditional styled rod. Until now, this style hot rod modeled itself on the cars seen in old hot rod magazines from the 1950s and '60s -- lots of chrome and perfect paint. The new style "authentic" hot rod takes as its ideal the kind of car an "ordinary" guy might have built back in the golden days -- less flashy, primered paint and a generally less "finished" look. But, they're also more affordable for the new, younger generation of rodder.
These cars capture a look many of the earliest hot rods had. Before the days of an established aftermarket parts industry and the professional builder, hot rods were put together by guys in their backyards. By trial and error they fashioned machines that would go fast and look good. However, the guys weren't rich so the cars often didn't have all the high-dollar finish of those featured in magazines.
Across the country young builders have even taken this look several steps further and created what some call "rat rods." These are cars that are almost cartoon like in their exaggerated appearance and rudimentary assembly. The builders of these cars have also built a lifestyle around their hobby that features rockabilly-style rock 'n roll, tattoos and clothing modeled on the archetypical "bad boys" of the 1950s.
"The National Hot Rod Reunion is a celebration of automotive speed and style in all its forms," said noted hot rod author Tony Thacker, who is also the executive director of the Parks Museum, the producers of the Hot Rod Reunions. "The American hot rod symbolizes youth, mechanical know-how, freedom and fun. That's why the hot rod is more popular today than ever. Everyone is welcome at the Hot Rod Reunion and everyone has a great time, because this is the place to be if you love fast cars and American ingenuity."
The 5th annual Holley NHRA National Hot Rod Reunion, presented by SoffSeal, is part of the museum's Hot Rod Heritage Series which works to bring to life the sights, sounds and people who made history in the early days of drag racing, land speed racing and the golden age of American car culture.
Unique among motorsports events, the Reunion honors some of the top names in hot rodding from the past and features a fabulous array of cool drag cars, street rods, classics, customs and muscle cars of the historic and present-day hot rod eras.
Daily general admission tickets/pit passes will be available at the National Trail Raceway gate, 2650 National Rd. SW, Hebron, Ohio 43025; phone: 740/928-5706; www.nationaltrailraceway.com. Cost per person: Friday, $20; Saturday, $20; Sunday, $15. Children 15 and under are free when accompanied by an adult. The first 1,000 spectators on Sunday (Father's Day) will receive a free Mattel Hot Wheels.