It began with a glorious Thursday evening parade of 150 colorful rods and muscle cars cruising through historic Bowling Green, Ky., and ended on a blue-sky Sunday at Beech Bend Raceway Park with a young top fueler hoisting a trophy triumphantly. In between, the 2nd annual National Holley NHRA National Hot Rod Reunion, presented by DuPont Automotive Finishes, brought joy, nostalgia and good old family fun to the tens of thousands of folks who attended.
Based on the wildly successful NHRA California Hot Rod Reunion - now in its 13th year in Bakersfield - the National Reunion struck a major chord during its inaugural run last year. The positive buzz resonated the entire year, and the show's producers, the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum in Pomona, Calif., had a strong feeling the second National event would surpass the first.
They were right...and then some.
According to Sam Jackson, executive director of the Parks Motorsports Museum, the National Reunion was bigger and better in all areas. "The Reunion almost doubled in size across the board," Jackson said. "The crowds, the racers, the street rods, the vendors - everything was way up, and best of all, everyone went away thrilled with the event."
And the talk and planning for next year's event, set for June 17-19, 2005, has already begun.
Here's a brief daily recap of the highlights of the 2004 Holley NHRA National Hot Rod Reunion, presented by DuPont Automotive Finishes:
Thurs., June 17:
A nice crowd watched as Bowling Green Mayor Sandy Jones and Gary West, director of the Bowling Green Area Convention and Visitor's Bureau, kick things off with Reunion Event Director Bob Daniels at the ribbon-cutting ceremony in the parking lot of the convention center at the Holiday Inn University Plaza. Mayor Jones and West also judged the 150 hot rods, street rods, muscle cars and classics that were part of the "early-bird" cruise night festivities that went from the convention center through historic downtown to party-time at Beech Bend Park. Jones tabbed a red 1966 Chevelle convertible owned by Gary Miller of Fairfield, Ohio, while West picked Ron Hassel's yellow '37 Ford Roadster. Hassel was the "Best of the Best" winner at the 2003 Reunion.
Daniels called Bowling Green "the perfect place for the Reunion."
No one would ever argue with that.
Fri., June 18:
The Reunion officially opened at Beech Bend...and the crowds poured in. Roddin' and racin' at the track, then a grand nighttime awards reception capped a perfect Reunion day. At Beech Bend, Charlie Meyers and his group of judges began the difficult task of choosing the eventual winners of the SoffSeal Show 'N Shine competition. On the racing side, Steve Gibbs had to figure out how to squeeze in 400 racers when only 300 were expected. Later in the evening, Jackson told the reception crowd that Gibbs "may have to do a Blackie Gejeian-type of event and run six cars together side by side."