Weekend Rewind! Goodguys 32nd Speedway Motors Heartland Nationals Presented by BASF

Rain or shine, heartland hot rodders know how to party! Goodguys proved that yet again over a sometimes-soggy weekend in Des Moines for the 32nd Speedway Motors Heartland Nationals Presented by BASF. A few morning showers didn’t deter these hearty car enthusiasts – they still showed up, shined up, and brought the Good Times to Iowa for a fun-filled summertime weekend and a supercharged celebration of our nation’s independence.

Goodguys has deep roots in this part of the country, which is evident when you see the thousands of rods, customs, classics, trucks, and muscle cars that return to the Iowa State Fairgrounds year after year. They’re always joined by a steady influx of first timers who come to see what the buzz is about, and then plan a return trip of their own. When a midsummer party is this fun, you want to keep coming back!


There are so many great activities to enjoy, starting with the Thursday Poker Run and Kickoff Party, plus active cruising and bench racing at the host hotel every night. Then there’s the steady stream of cruising the loop at the fairgrounds or hanging out by your ride and enjoying some great food. A sizeable swap meet and strong vendor turnout helps rodders scratch the itch to shop for more parts, while fun diversions like valve cover races, a watermelon eating contest, and pie bake-off all add to the festive atmosphere.

Of course, it’s the cars that bring us together, and one highlight of the weekend is seeing which fine rides catch the attention of our longtime friend and Builder’s Choice selector Roger Burman of Lakeside Rods & Rides. Roger has a great eye for style, quality, and attention to detail, and you could find all those qualities and more in the Top 10 lineup he assembled.


The same levels of craftsmanship and style could be found in dozens of other award winners. Standouts among them included finalists for every regional Top 12 category: Heath Till’s ’68 Camaro for Griot’s Garage Muscle Machine of the Year; Dennis Albaugh’s ’69 Camaro ZL1 for Snap-on Muscle Car of the Year; Dennis Strobel’s ’50 Ford F1 for Scott’s Hotrods Truck of the Year Early; Eric Arvidson’s ’66 Chevy C10 for Dakota Digital Truck of the Year Late; David Wolk’s ’50 Mercury for Fuel Curve Custom of the Year; and Dave Carnock’s ’72 Avanti for Vintage Air Custom Rod of the Year.

The Chevrolet Performance GM Iron Builder of the Year finalist award went to Hill’s Hot Rods for Bob and Kelli Ward’s ’67 Chevy quad-cab pickup, while the GM Retro Iron finalist spot went to Vintage Fabrication for Paul and Evan Mayo’s ’67 Mustang. Tim and Dan Strange grabbed the Fuel Curve Pick for their ’65 Chevelle, and Randy Wilcox hauled home the Goodguys Feature Pick for his cleverly customized ’68 International Travelall.

While rain on Friday and Saturday mornings stole away a little time for Goodguys CPP AutoCross Series competition, our track crew worked hard to get in as much racing as possible both afternoons, extending runs into the evening when necessary. They also managed to get in the Optima Batteries Duel in Des Moines Shootout on Saturday afternoon. Each class saw double-up winners, with Robby Unser winning the Speedtech Performance PRO-X class and shootout in the Team Speedway ’70 Camaro; Tyler Gibson earning double-up wins in his ’72 Scout in the Summit Racing PRO class; Bill Graves winning the Forgeline Street Machine class and shootout in his ’66 Corvette; Jesse Voss topping the No Limit Engineering Truck class and shootout in his ’49 Chevy; and Tony Kvatek winning the Sports Car Class and shootout in a ’97 Corvette. Stacey Herman won the FiTech Challenger class in her ’80 Trans Am, and Josh Jones doubled up on Sunday in the All American Sunday class and shootout in his 2002 Corvette.

The tire punishment extended beyond the AutoCross course on Saturday afternoon when more than a dozen lead-footed gearheads entered the fray for the Burnout Competition, putting on a spectacular smoke show for a huge crowd. The Central Iowa RC Addicts showed off some cool radio-controlled vehicles throughout the weekend, and we also had several Nitro Thunderfest exhibitions to shake the ground and shake up the crowd. That included the traditional Saturday night twilight Thunderfest, preceded by a rockin’ evening concert and followed by a spectacular Fireworks Extravaganza to complete the evening in patriotic style.

A sunny Sunday helped wrap up the event on a high note as we squeezed in a little more cruising, visiting, spending time with friends, and admiring fine rides – including many late models participating in the All American Sunday fun. The afternoon highlight was watching dozens of trophy winners cruise past the stage during the weekend-ending Awards Program.

The Speedway Motors Heartland Nationals is more than just a fun summer weekend – it’s a celebration of the personal freedom we all enjoy by pursuing our favorite pastime. We can’t think of a more fitting way to spend the days leading up to the Fourth of July. We wish all Americans a wonderful Independence Day, and hope you’ll join us for even more automotive fun this coming weekend at the 25th Summit Racing Nationals presented by PPG in Columbus, Ohio!

Photos by Damon Lee, Terry Lysak, Jason Lubkin & 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.