Weekend Rewind! Goodguys 17th BASF Nashville Nationals

Nashville is a mecca for many things: country music, barbecue, bachelorette parties. And every May, you can add hot rods to that list thanks to Goodguys! We kept the tradition going strong this weekend as a rowdy pack of hot rods took over Nashville Superspeedway for the 17th BASF Nashville Nationals. They brought along some friends, too, in the form of a couple thousand classics, customs, muscle cars, trucks, and other specialty vehicles and fine rides.

Following a celebratory Kickoff Party at Charlies Custom Creations and Machines on Thursday evening, more than 30 bitchin’ hot rods hit the road Friday morning for the Tanks, Inc. Hot Rod of the Year Reliability Run. Our friend Ben Smithson mapped out this year’s route, which took contenders on a 120-mile backroads trek with visits to Advanced Plating, White House Pizza, Music City Raceway (for burnouts and 1/8-mile drag strip runs), and Infinite Fab Works before finishing the day where we started, at Nashville Superspeedway.

Spring showers resulted in a soggy, slow, and delayed start on Saturday, but by early afternoon the raindrops dispersed and allowed us a better look at the Hot Rod of the Year competitors. It was an especially strong field this year, which made it very tough to narrow things down to a Top Five. The cars that ultimately made the short list were Dave Gray’s ’32 Ford roadster, Cory Taulbert’s ’33 Ford coupe, David Root’s ’28 Model A roadster, Coby Gewertz’s ’34 Ford coupe, and Scott Williams’ ’32 Ford roadster.

These five early Fords each had a distinctive flavor and approach to the hot rod concept. Every one of them had a great look, attitude, and feel, backed up by performance proven on the reliability run. The Hot Rod of the Year winner is always one of the trickiest to predict and determine, as it’s not just about build quality and execution, but also about drivability, use, attitude, style, and impact. Participants and spectators alike were speculating right up until awards time Sunday afternoon, when Coby Gewertz’s radical race-influenced ’34 Ford coupe built by South City Rod & Custom was officially announced as the 2023 Tanks, Inc. Hot Rod of the Year. Watch for a full feature on this bitchin’ ride this week on FuelCurve.com.

Of course, the Nashville Nationals had much more to offer than the hot rod competition. The Superspeedway infield was packed with fine rides vying for dozens of other awards. Some of the most sought-after were the Builder’s Choice Top 10 chosen by our friend Bobby Alloway. As we’ve come to expect from Bobby, the Top 10 lineup was on point.

The Goodguys team also selected a full slate of finalists for our regional Top 12 awards. Paul and Gina Rosenbaum’s ’68 Imperial became the finalist for Vintage Air Custom Rod of the Year; Todd Summer’s ’52 Cadillac convertible was the finalist for Fuel Curve Custom of the Year; John Spanos’ ’67 Chevelle was the Griot’s Garage Muscle Machine of the Year finalist; KTL Restoration picked up the Snap-on Muscle Car of the Year finalist nod for the ’70 Cougar Eliminator they recently finished; Paul Messman’s ’63 C10 became the Dakota Digital Truck of the Year Late finalist; and Wade Sutton’s ’56 Ford F600 was the Scott’s Hotrods Truck of the Year Early finalist. Dig’s Rod Shop was the latest finalist for the Chevrolet Performance GM Iron Builder of the Year award with the ’52 Chevy pickup they built, while Adams Hot Rod Shop became the GM Retro Iron Builder of the Year finalist for Shane Wright’s ’32 Ford roadster. The Goodguys Feature Pick went to Jason Danler’s ’72 Chevelle SS.

Goodguys CPP AutoCross Series racers got to stretch their legs and hit some higher speeds on the longer, multi-elevation track that uses a portion of Nashville Superspeedway’s road course, though competition in our main classes was limited to Friday only. Brian Finch claimed the Speedtech Performance PRO-X class win in his ’71 Camaro, and also the No Limit Engineering Truck class win in his C10 pickup. The Summit Racing PRO class was won by Chris Smith in his ’70 Camaro, while Ryan Mathews topped the Sports Car class in his ’94 Corvette. Stacy Herman topped the FiTech Challenger class in her ’80 Trans Am. Everything was sunny and dry for All American Sunday, where Brian Johns won both the All American class and shootout in his 2000 Corvette.

Even if you weren’t competing for a trophy or AutoCross award, you could still feel like a race winner by taking a lap or two around the Nashville Superspeedway banked oval during the Saturday evening Track Cruise. That experience alone made the weekend worthwhile for many participants.

Speaking of experiences, there were plenty to enjoy all weekend long at the Nashville Superspeedway. Whether it was shopping for new parts from one of the dozens of vendors on hand, searching for deals in the swap meet, eating some delicious food, listening to great live music, or checking out the thousands of incredible rides throughout the infield, there were many ways to get your fix of hot rod fun and Goodguys Good Times. And while we had to endure some raindrops Saturday morning, it didn’t seem to dampen the spirits of anyone in attendance.

Thanks for another great year in Tennessee, y’all! We can’t wait to do it all again next year at the BASF Nashville Nationals!

Photos by Damon Lee, Marc Gewertz, John Jackson & 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.