Gathering at the Roc 2023 – Traditional Rods and Customs Descend on Oklahoma

Those fellas in Oklahoma might just be onto something! When Jason Smith of the Hot Rod Garage and his good friend Brandon McCullough first conceived the Gathering at the Roc in 2020, the concept was pretty simple. They wanted to establish a modestly sized hot rod and custom car get-together for like-minded enthusiasts who gravitate toward traditional-style vehicles – a “car show for the discerning man,” as they put it. This would not be a static affair, but an event that combined a day of driving, a day of showing, and plenty of time in-between for the hotel hangouts and shenanigans that make it getting together with car buddies so enjoyable.

2023 Gathering at the Roc

2023 Gathering at the Roc

Boy, did they hit it out of the park! The show’s first year, which was handicapped by Covid-19, was still an astounding success, with traditional enthusiasts from across the country traveling to Bartlesville, Oklahoma to take part. The Gathering’s buzz and reputation have only increased in the years since, and the 2023 edition – held October 6-7, might have been the best one yet.

The show’s location has always been part of its appeal. Bartlesville is a cool little city in a surprisingly scenic part of Oklahoma, complete with a hotel designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. It’s the perfect launch point for the Friday Reliability Run, which this year traveled to the town of Barnsdall before leading to the popular lunch destination of Pawhuska, a cool old-fashioned tourist town. Then it was back to Bartlesville for partying and hanging out at the host hotel.

On Saturday, the caravan leads to Woolaroc, a 3,700-acre ranch and wildlife preserve founded in 1925 by oilman Frank Phillips, of Phillips 66 fame. There, the hot rods and customs parade past native and exotic wildlife like bison, elk, and longhorn cattle on the way to the show grounds. Those grounds are adjacent to an equally impressive museum showcasing Western art, Native American artifacts, and an incredible collection of Colt firearms.

The setting is impressive, and so are the cars and trucks that attend. With limited capacity, it’s a pre-register-only show that has lived up to its aspiration to be discerning. Not only does it attract incredible traditional-style rods and customs from across the country, but also many noted builders and shops. This year’s attendees included the Goodguys 2023 Custom of the Year, Custom Rod of the Year, Truck of the Year Early, Hot Rod of the Year, and Street Rod of the Year, plus many other prestigious award winners.

We could continue singing this show’s praises, but we think you get the picture – and the photos here (plus the countless others found online on social media) reinforce the Gathering’s stature and success. It’s more than just good friends, cool cars, and a great venue – it’s a special laid-back vibe that the Gathering at the Roc has managed to curate. It’s definitely one of a kind, and we hope they can keep it going for years to come.

2023 Gathering at the Roc Photo Extra!

Photos by Travis Scanlan | Videos by John Jackson

Editor, Goodguys Gazette

Damon Lee began snapping photos at car shows when he was 10, tagging along with his father to events throughout the Midwest. He has combined his passion for cars and knack for writing and imagery into a 20-year career in the automotive aftermarket, writing for titles like Super Chevy and Rod & Custom and, more recently, working for respected industry leaders Speedway Motors and Goodguys Rod & Custom Association.