Weekend Rewind! Goodguys 33rd Griot’s Garage Pacific Northwest Nationals

Tradition is a big part of hot rodding and Goodguys continued one of its longest-running event traditions this weekend with the 33rd installment of the Griot’s Garage Pacific Northwest Nationals in Puyallup, Washington! Hot rod and custom car roots run deep in this region, which was evident in the spectacular array of rods, customs, muscle cars, and classics cruising the Washington State Fair Events Center the past three days. Pair that with the largest spectator crowd and vehicle registration number in the event’s history, our traditional action-packed Friday-night drags, and the laid-back party vibe for which this event is known, and the result was an epic midsummer hot rod celebration!

After weeks of record-breaking temperatures in the Northwest, the hot rod gods smiled on us with picture-perfect weather in the low-80s all weekend long. Rodders were anxious to celebrate and had their rides shined up, tuned up, and ready to go. True to tradition, we kicked things off with a fun Poker Run on Thursday to give the rides some exercise on the area’s scenic backroads. This culminated in a festive evening kickoff party at Griot’s Garage headquarters in Tacoma.

You could sense the pent-up energy as rides flowed in on Friday morning, spilling into all areas of the scenic and expansive Washington State Fair Events Center. This event is known for its variety and didn’t disappoint this year, with everything from old-school traditional rods and customs, to pro-touring muscle machines, tricked-out classic trucks, and a huge contingent of vintage Volkswagens.

We moved the party to Pacific Raceways on Friday evening for a ground-pounding, full-throttle night of quarter-mile action at the Friday Night Drags. In addition to five classes of bracket racing, there was big-time action from blown alcohol Pro Mods, AA Fuel Altereds, and the showcase Nitro Funny Cars from the United Nitro Funny Cars association. The stands were packed and the racing was intense, which made for a fantastic Friday night show.

Many rodders – and the entire Goodguys staff – are still reeling from the untimely passing of Craig Morrison from nearby Art Morrison Enterprises. There was a moment of silence at noon on Saturday to honor Craig, and the Goodguys team took on the task of selecting the Builder’s Choice Top Ten on behalf of Art and Craig. We think Craig would have been happy with the lineup of great rides we chose.

Beyond the Builder’s Choice Top Ten, we selected a finalist for the Billet Specialties Muscle Car of the Year honor with Phil Mitchel’s ’69 Pontiac Firebird. We also selected a finalists for the Chevrolet Performance GM Iron Builder of the Year honor which went to Chris Holstrom Concepts with a stunning red ’64 Corvette. The Goodguys media team also made their feature picks with Jon Byers’ ’55 Chevy Suburban getting the Fuel Curve Pick, and Mike Mienaud’s ’55 Chevy 210 being selected for the Goodguys Feature Pick.

We hit critical mass on Saturday as the facility was bursting at the seams with bitchin’ rides and the enthusiasts who appreciate them. There was plenty to see and do, including multiple Nitro Thunderfest exhibitions, a tire smokin’ Burnout Contest, a fantastic Indoor Car Show, live music from local bands, great fairgrounds food, an expansive swap meet, and scores of vendors and exhibitors showing cool parts and products. We also had a great contingent of artists and pinstripers on hand keeping another Pacific Northwest Nationals tradition alive – the annual Brush Bash!

Nighttime cruising is one more Puyallup tradition and the rodders kept the festivities rolling well after dark both Friday and Saturday. After two years away, it seemed especially important to keep cruising and soak in as much rodding fun as the weekend would allow. This spilled over into a very busy Meguiar’s All American Sunday, when we welcomed a great selection of later-model rides to join in the fun with us.

Sometimes tradition can seem stuffy or redundant, but that’s not the case with the Griot’s Garage Pacific Northwest Nationals. Thanks for fun-loving rodders, a continuous influx of fresh builds, a relaxed attitude, and kinetic features like cruising and racing, this event continues to be fresh and fun after 30-plus years. Thanks to everyone who came out to enjoy it – we can’t wait to party again with you next year!

Photos by Steven Bunker & Todd Ryden

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.