The Southeastern Nationals is a longtime late-season favorite on the Goodguys schedule, an autumn tradition that fills Charlotte Motor Speedway with a different type of fall color – the glistening paint from thousands of hot rods, customs, classics, trucks, muscle cars, and other vintage machines. Combine that vibrant palette with crisp October air and the magic of one of NASCAR’s premier tracks, and you’ve got a recipe for some down-home four-wheeled fun!
A new format condensed all the action at the 25th Southeastern Nationals into just two days (two-and-a-half if you factor in Thursday’s poker run). That made for a fast-paced Friday and speedy Saturday, though the participating rodders took it all in stride – after all, they’re familiar with speed in this region. The action-packed days were separated by a spectacular TGIF party at Detroit Speed in nearby Mooresville, complete with barbecue, shop tours, and live music from James Otto.
Thousands of cars filled the CMS infield both Friday and Saturday, many of them vying for a Builder’s Choice Top 10 from Kyle Tucker at Detroit Speed. Beyond those fortunate 10, dozens more went home with picks and awards from the Goodguys staff, including two finalists for 2019 Top 12 awards – Bill Brunker’s ’67 GTO for the MSD Muscle Car of the Year, and Ed Vannoy’s ’67 Chevy C10 for LMC Truck of the Year Late. There was also a PPG Dream Car Pick – Butch Poe’s ’63 Nova – plus a Fuel Curve Pick given to Glenn Sinon’s ’72 Maverick.
Racers were gunning for different types awards over on the AutoCross course, pushing their machines around the coned course in a quest for the quickest time – not to mention a chance to duke it out in the Tar Heel Throwdown shootout. The Saturday-afternoon shootout got a later-than-scheduled start due to some intermittent rain, but offered up some hard-hitting action once the track was dry. It turned into a family brawl in the final round, with Jared Leisinger taking on his brother, Josh, for bragging rights. Jared drove his Summit Racing-sponsored Corvette roadster to the win, with a 32.15-second lap to narrowly best Josh’s 32.39. Jared also took the PRO-class win, with Street Machine going to Joe Gregory, Brad Bedsaul taking the Truck class win, and Russell McLaren earning top honors in the Hot Rod class.
Gray skies and a few showers on Saturday didn’t dampen the spirit of these hearty Southeastern rodders, as they celebrated the day with one of the best burnout competitions in recent memory. There was also family fun in the Kids Zone, a cool model car contest, and live blues music leading up to the late-afternoon awards ceremony. And true to tradition, we capped off Saturday – and the event – with a cruise around the legendary high-banked oval of Charlotte Motor Speedway!
It’s hard to believe Goodguys has been coming to Charlotte for a quarter century now! The 2018 Southeastern Nationals provided more evidence that some things indeed get better with age, and we can’t wait to return in 2019 to usher this storied into its second quarter century.