Weekend Rewind! 16th BASF Nashville Nationals presented by BluePrint Engines

Tennessee turned on the Southern sun, fun, and charm this weekend when Goodguys came to the state for the 16th BASF Nashville Nationals presented by Blueprint Engines. It was the beginning of a new song and a new era for this long-running Music City event as we moved the festivities to Nashville Superspeedway in nearby Lebanon. The infield of this one-mile oval makes for a perfect event venue, with plenty of room to spread out, shine up, and let the Goodguys Good Times roll!

We got ready for the weekend in fine style with a kickoff party at Charlies Custom Creations on Thursday evening. This shop has some great projects in the works and an enviable space for building them. Charlie and his team pulled out all the stops, too, with barbecue pork and chicken, plenty of sides, and other goodies for all who attended.

Friday dawned bright, sunny, and warm, making it a perfect day for those competing in the Tanks, Inc. Hot Rod of the Year reliability run. Two dozen hard-charging rods trekked more than 150 miles through the Tennessee countryside, making several stops before ending up at Music City Dragway for burnouts and eighth-mile runs. The day gave our team an opportunity to thoroughly evaluate the contenders and help determine our Top Five. The finalist lineup, revealed Saturday afternoon, included: Bill Cheek – 1932 Ford, Kevin Svarda – 1932 Ford Roadster, Jeff Bennett – 1931 Ford Roadster, Michael Whitney – 1932 Ford Roadster, and Gerry Kerna – 1930 Ford Sedan.

Each of the five finalists had a distinctive take on the hot rod concept, which made it especially interesting for the awards committee to debate the winner. More than any other Meguiar’s Top 12 award, the Tanks, Inc. Hot Rod of the Year is about attitude, drivability and use, not strictly build quality and execution. There was a lot of anticipation leading up to the Sunday awards ceremony, where Michael Whitney’s bitchin’ homebuilt ’32 Ford Roadster was officially announced as the 2022 Tanks, Inc. Hot Rod of the Year.

There’s much more to the Nashville Nationals than just the Hot Rod of the Year competition, though. Thousands of hot rods, muscle cars, classics, lowriders, trucks, and specialty vehicles packed the Nashville Superspeedway infield all weekend long, many of them seeking out one of the many picks and awards distributed by our team. Highlighted among those are the Builder’s Choice Top 10, selected at this event by the esteemed Bobby Alloway of Alloway’s Hot Rods. Bobby always does a thorough job combing the field for his picks and came up with a fantastic lineup to receive his cool custom-built trophies.

Other standouts among the dozens of show awards were finalists for several other Meguiar’s Top 12 awards, as well as two more finalists for the Chevrolet Performance Builder of the Year. Alex Short’s ’58 Ford Pickup earned a Scotts Hotrods Truck of the Year Early finalist spot, Charlie Swanson grabbed the Griot’s Garage Muscle Machine of the Year finalist with his ’68 Plymouth, William Tetro’s ’51 Merc claimed the Vintage Air Custom Rod of the Year finalist award, and Johnny Griffin’s ’69 Yenko Chevelle was added to the Snap-On Muscle Car of the Year running. The Goodguys media team got in on the award action and selected Jerry Patterson’s ’63 Chevy Bel Air for their Goodguys Feature Pick. For the Chevrolet Performance Builder of the Year spots, L&S Customs grabbed the GM Iron award with their ’68 Chevy C10 and Garrets Rod Shop was awarded the GM Retro Iron with their recently-finished ’33 Ford Roadster.

Racers in the Goodguys CPP AutoCross series got to experience an all-new course this year, an extended, more open track that took advantage of a portion of the Superspeedway’s road course and even a small section of the main oval. More than 75 competitors came out to give it a go, making for some intense competition. Weekend wins went to Josh Leisinger who doubled up in the Speedtech Performance PRO-X Class claiming the class win as well as the Team Witt Music Cit Mayhem Shootout. Brian Finch also doubled up in the Summit Racing Pro class in his ’71 Camaro. Chris Wheatcraft claimed both wins in the Forgeline Street Machine class in his ’73 Camaro as well. The first split wins came in the LMC Truck class with Rob MacGregor getting the class win, but Brian Finch won the shootout in a ’70 C10. Tim Molzen won the Gearstar Performance Sports Car Class in a ’97 Corvette, but it was Brian Johns driving his ’95 Miata winning the shootout portion of the event. Clint Montgomery added his name to AutoCross winners driving his ’73 Camaro to the FiTech Challenger class win. Last but not least was the Tremec All American Sunday action where Chris Wheatcraft wasn’t done with his winning ways as he drove his 2008 Corvette to both victories on Sunday.

Participants who didn’t take part in AutoCross competition could still get some track time and make a few laps around the banked Superspeedway oval during the Saturday Track Cruise. These cruises are always a fun way to fulfill racing fantasies and enjoy a new experience with your rod, custom, or classic.

That’s really what the weekend was about – enjoyable automotive experiences. From the Nitro Thunderfest exhibitions and live music, to the showin’ and shinin’, vendor shopping, swap meet dealing, and show field cruising. We even teamed up with Bring A Trailer for a laid-back reunion that welcomed dozens of enthusiasts who had found their car or truck on the popular automotive auction site!

Yes, there’s a new tune playing in Tennessee for the BASF Nashville Nationals presented by Blueprint Engines, and it looks like we’ve got a growing chorus to sing along. We can’t wait to write a new verse next year. Until then, we hope you’ll hum along and enjoy these images.

Photos by Damon Lee, Todd Ryden, Jason Lubken, and Terry Lysak

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.