Weekend Rewind! Goodguys 28th Speedway Motors Heartland Nationals

Goodguys carried the spirit of Independence Day through a spectacular extended weekend celebrating American-style hot rodding at the 28th Speedway Motors Heartland Nationals. With thousands of cool cars on tap and a schedule jam-packed with fun activities for participants and spectators alike, it was a Fourth of July hot rod weekend for the ages!

Cars were starting to roll toward central Iowa even before fireworks started going off on July 4. A few dozen early arrivals took part in Thursday’s Poker Run, visiting local shops and putting on an impromptu parade for locals. Even more gathered in the host hotel Marroitt parking lot Thursday night for a laid-back kickoff party.

The action started early and strong on Friday morning as the Iowa State Fairground quickly filled up with hot rods, cool customs, slick vintage trucks, ground-pounding muscle cars, and all other forms of cool classic cars and trucks. Participants were cruisin’ Grand Avenue and showin’ off their rides under beautiful skies and warm summer temps.

Saturday was packed with even more fun, from kids activities and live music, to ever-popular attractions like our Nitro Thunderfest and a smokin’ Burnout Competition with a record number of competitors. We added some heartland-style summer fun to the day with an Apple Pie Bake-Off and Watermelon Eating contest and had other Des Moines-only attractions on tap like R/C Race Car Exhibitions and Valve Cover Races.

Many fine rides went home with something a little extra at the end of the weekend, as the Goodguys awards team was out in full force giving dozens of picks. Roger Burman added to the mix with his Builder’s Choice Top 10 and made some great selections, as usual. We also found five regional Top 12 finalists: Randy Wilcox’s ’59 Cadillac for Vintage Air Custom Rod of the Year; Gary Goudie’s ’70 Mustang for Muscle Car of the Year; Fermin Adams’s ’71 GTO for Griot’s Garage Muscle Machine of the Year; Ed Pettus’s ’32 Willys for Scott’s Hot Rods Truck of the Year Early; and Joseph White’s ’68 Chevy for LMC Truck of the Year Late. The folks at PPG also selected a Dream Car – Chris Klein’s ’63 Chevy II – and the media team made a Fuel Curve Pick with Doug Karon’s ’59 Bocar.



AutoCross action was fierce throughout the weekend, with many heavy hitters gunning for a spot in the Duel in Des Moines Shootout presented by Speedway Motors. Summit-sponsored cars duked it out with the Team Speedway Camaros in the PRO/PRO-X portion of the shootout; Robby Unser ultimately prevailed and brought home the win for the home team in the Speedway Motors ’70 Camaro. Chris Jacobs won the Street Machine, Truck, and Hot Rod Shootout driving the Customs and Hot Rods of Andice fourth-generation Corvette. Class winners included Jacobs in Street Machine, Jared Leisinger in PRO-X, Rich Gregory in PRO, Tyler Gibson in Truck, and Bill Diers in Hot Rod. Josh Jones drove his C5 Corvette to victory in both the All American Sunday class and All American Sunday Shootout.


We kept the party going well into Saturday night with Twilight Cruising along Grand Avenue and an awesome Hot Rod Party at the fairgrounds with live music and a Nitro Night Blast at dusk, followed by our annual Fireworks Show. The momentum spilled over into All-American Sunday presented by Spectre Performance, as we welcomed a wide range of modern machines into the mix for the day.

As the awards ceremony kicked off on Sunday afternoon, there were plenty of people wishing this expanded star-spangled weekend could just keep going. With great weather all three days and thousands of cars at one of our favorite venues in the country, we would have loved keeping the party going for a few more days! Fortunately, we’re less than a week away from the Big One, as the 22nd PPG Nationals will be rolling into Columbus this weekend. Hold on, folks – we’re just getting the summer action started and will have our foot to the floor all season long!


Photos by John Jackson, Damon Lee and Jason Lubken

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.