Weekend Rewind! Goodguys 7th Griot’s Garage North Carolina Nationals

Wow! East Coast rodders were revved up and ready to rally back to Raleigh, North Carolina this weekend for the seventh installment of the Griot’s Garage North Carolina Nationals! With picture-perfect sunny skies and temperatures in the low- to mid-80s all three days, this was one of the best weather weekends we’ve recently had in Raleigh. Car enthusiasts from around the region responded by turning out in force at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds for some right-coast springtime cruisin’!

There’s a lot of automotive activity in this part of the country and this is a great time of year to get those vintage rides out of the garage, tuned up, shined up, and ready for the road. We saw plenty of fresh builds that had previously only been seen under artificial light at indoor car shows, and it’s obvious how much brighter they look in the sun. It was great to see so many fine rides out in their natural element

Jonathan Goolsby of Goolsby Customs cruised up from Alabama to show off the Goodguys Grand Prize Giveaway truck and to make the Builder’s Choice Top 10 selections. He was happy to choose from some of those fresh builds finished up over the winter. His lineup included a wide range of eras and build styles, which was a great reflection of the variety of vehicles on hand.

The Goodguys awards staff had a busy weekend, as well, selecting four regional finalists for Meguiar’s Top 12 Awards. This included the ’54 Chevy of Steve Moss for Vintage Air Custom Rod of the Year; Gary Popolizio’s ’35 Ford pickup for Scott’s Hotrods Truck of the Year Early; Roger Gaultney’s ’69 Road Runner for Snap-on Muscle Car of the Year; and Tim Lucento’s ’67 Camaro for Griot’s Garage Muscle Machine of the Year. The media team, meanwhile, found a couple of cool, understated rides for its picks – Ray Greene’s ’70 Chevelle for the Fuel Curve Pick, and Ray and Terri Bartlett’s ’40 Ford sedan delivery for the Goodguys Feature Pick.

There were also two top-flight builders selected as finalist for the Chevrolet Performance Builder of the Year awards. Hat Creek Customs became the GM Iron Builder of the Year finalist for the ’54 Chevy they built for Steve Moss, while Creative Rod & Kustom got the GM Retro Iron finalist nod for the ’30 Model A sedan built for Gerry Kerna.

The Goodguys CPP AutoCross course stayed active all weekend as a dedicated group of racers took advantage of great weather and track conditions. The Leisinger family made the long haul from South Dakota, which paid off with a Speedtech PRO-X class win for Josh Leisinger in his Summit Racing-sponsored ’64 Corvette, and Karen Leisinger topping the Summit Racing PRO class in her ’70 Camaro. Josh doubled up with a victory in the Rumble in Raleigh Shootout presented by Gearstar. Karen Leisinger was not quite as fortunate, as Ron Scott Jr. was able to step up and top her in the PRO shootout ladder. Bill Graves Sr. claimed the double win on his home track in the Forgeline Street Machine class, while Rob MacGregor topped the LMC Truck class and ran unopposed in the truck portion of the shootout for a double victory. Ryan Mathews raced his ’94 Corvette to double wins in the Gearstar Sports Car class, earning both class and shootout victories, while Ted Collier did the same double-up trick in his 2016 Mustang in the Tremec All American Sunday class and All American Shootout.

As you’d expect from a Goodguys event, the weekend was chock full of activities. An Indoor Car Show gave spectators a break from the sun when they needed, as did the indoor portion of the in-and-out swap meet. Dozens of vendors offered cool goods and services, and we had a couple of great-looking – and sounding – vintage dragsters firing up during the Nitro Thunderfest exhibitions. A highlight for many locals and participants was the hard-hitting Demolition Derby on Saturday night. Talk about a smashing good time!

Sprinkle in more fun elements like an interactive Kids Zone, model car Make and Take, a Burnout Competition, live music, and more, and you had plenty to keep car-crazy folks busy all weekend long. Yes, the weather was great, but the collection of cars, trucks, good friends, and activities are what really fueled the Goodguys Good Times in Raleigh. Check out the photos to see if you agree, then start making your plans to get to the next event on our calendar – the 16th BASF Nashville Nationals, May 13-15 at Nashville Superspeedway in Lebanon, Tennessee!

Photos by Damon Lee & 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.