Weekend Rewind! Goodguys 26th Speedway Motors Southwest Nationals

Wow! What a spectacular finish to the 2023 Goodguys event season! We gathered a few thousand cool cars and trucks and even more of our closest gearhead friends in the Arizona desert this weekend to wrap up the year in style at the 26th Speedway Motors Southwest Nationals. We’re talking three days of fine rides, cool people, and good times in the Scottsdale sun – the perfect combination to bring another incredible year to a close.

One look at the Top 12 Of the Year winners gathered outside the main tent at Westworld of Scottsdale was enough to reinforce the fact that this has been a special season for Goodguys. What an amazing lineup of cars and trucks, each going home with a customized Snap-on toolbox! The builders in our industry just keep getting more creative, refined, and advanced with their builds, pushing the boundaries of craftsmanship and style. The Goodguys Top 12 winning vehicles represent the best of the best, and everyone in attendance got a chance to inspect them up close and witness the jaw-dropping quality in person.

One open spot remained in the Top 12 display on Friday and Saturday, and that was for the Classic Performance Products King of the Desert. Formerly known as AutoCrosser of the Year, this honor was reserved for the champion of Saturday afternoon’s King of the Desert Shootout – a frenetic finale to the CPP AutoCross season that saw the 16 fastest vehicles of the weekend duking it out on a single-elimination ladder. The final round saw Jared Leisinger in his Summit Racing-sponsored ’64 Corvette roadster facing off against Robby Unser in the Team Speedway ’70 Camaro. Leisinger had the momentum – and had already clocked the fastest lap of the weekend in the shootout’s second round – and was able to clock a 39.302-second lap to best Unser’s 40.892 and claim the King of the Desert crown!

There were three other winners joining the front line of Top 12 featured vehicles. Our Chevrolet Performance Builders of the Year had their vehicles on display and took part in a special awards ceremony Saturday afternoon to recognize their accomplishments. Hot Rod Garage won the GM Iron Builder of the Year honor for the ’63 Corvette they built for Casey Shires, and Rutterz Rodz earned the GM Retro Iron Builder of the Year title for the ’41 Willys built for Doyle Thomas. Young James Cerepak also had his ’74 Javelin on display after winning the 2023 Goolsby Customs Next Generation title.

Back on the show car field, Dean Livermore from Hot Rods by Dean stayed busy on Saturday finding some of the finest rides on the grounds to receive his Builder’s Choice Top 10 awards. These are coveted honors coming from one of the most respected builders in the business – and they come with bitchin’ louvered trophies, too! We’re sure you’ll agree the picks were on point.

The Goodguys team made some choice selections of their own. We got a jump on the 2024 season by selecting finalists for two Top 12 honors – Jim Bazuik’s ’69 Chevelle SS396 as the 2024 Snap-on Muscle Car of the Year finalist, and Paul Treadwell’s ’85 Chevy C10 as the 2024 Dakota Digital Truck of the Year Late finalist. Treadwell’s truck also earned the GM Iron Builder of the Year finalist spot for Fat Fender Garage, while Hard Body Customs earned the GM Retro Iron Builder of the Year finalist spot for the LS-powered ’65 International Scout they brought. The Goodguys media team selected Zach Hightower’s fiery red ’70 Chevelle for the Goodguys Feature Pick.

Even before the King of the Desert Shootout, the Goodguys CPP AutoCross course was rockin’ all day Friday and most of Saturday after a rain-delayed start. Racers left it all on the track as they competed for the final time in 2023 and slugged their way through five different Duel in the Desert Shootouts – one for each primary Goodguys AutoCross class. When the dust settled, Jared Leisinger had won the Speedtech Performance PRO-X Duel in the Desert, Eric Sheely had claimed the top spot in the Summit Racing PRO Duel in the Desert, Ryan Mathews had raced to first place in the Sports Car Duel in the Desert, Ken Yeo had won the Forgeline Street Machine Duel in the Desert, and Rob MacGregor had hauled home the win in the No Limit Engineering Truck Duel in the Desert. Sunday saw more than 15 racers – including five Teslas – hit the track for All American Sunday competition, where Bruce Hanson took home the class win and Jon Bickford earned the shootout victory, both in Tesla 3s.

Of course, the weekend wouldn’t be complete without all the fun happenings and activities Goodguys is known for. This included a fun Thursday Hot Rod Cruise around the Phoenix area, a rockin’ TGIF party at Squeeg’s Kustoms, a truly massive swap meet on the south side of the Westworld grounds, multiple Nitro Thunderfest exhibitions, a huge vendor midway, live music, activities for the kids, and plenty of time hanging out with friends and fellow enthusiasts.

Even with all of the awards, competitions, activities, and honors being showcased and recognized in Scottsdale, the heart and soul of this season finale were the thousands of killer hot rods, cool customs, clean classics, trick trucks, stout street machines, mighty muscle cars, and other fine rides that packed the Westworld grounds from end to end. These great vehicles – and their fun-loving owners – truly make this event. The Good Times couldn’t happen without great Goodguys members like all of you supporting us all season long. We sincerely thank all of you for another incredible season, and look forward to seeing you in a few months when we’ll be looking for more in 2024!

Photos by Damon Lee, Todd Ryden, Terry Lysak & 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.