If the 2018 Goodguys event season must end, it might as well go out on a high note. That’s why we’ve spent the last three days here in Scottsdale at the 21st Southwest Nationals basking in perfect, sun-soaked weather; checking out thousands cool hot rods, customs, trucks and classics; watching action-packed AutoCross competition; and generally enjoying a picture-perfect gearhead weekend with thousands of our closest car friends.
We kicked off the festivities with a Thursday Southwest Nats tradition – a Hot Rod Cruise to some of the cool shops and car-related attractions around Scottsdale and Phoenix. By dawn on Friday, the hot rod crowd was primed and ready, with thousands of fine rides flowing through the gates at Westworld for a jam-packed day of showin’, shinin’, and cruisin’. Front and center were the Goodguys Top 12 winners from 2018 – lined up outside the exhibitor tent on Race Deck flooring and showing off their personalized Snap-On tool chests. It was a truly impressive lineup showcasing the best our hobby has to offer.
Impressive is also an appropriate way to describe the 32-car field that duked it out in Saturday’s Duel in the Desert. As he’s done in most events where he has competed this season, Scott Fraser claimed the number-one shootout qualifying spot in Bruce Cambern’s original AC Cobra and never looked back on his way to claiming the Goodguys 2018 FAST AutoCrosser of the Year title. He defeated Curt Hill, Mike Maier, Al Unser Jr., Josh Leisinger and Robby Unser as the ladder stepped down, running a final round 41.134 to Unser’s 41.446. The Leisinger brothers rounded out the top four – Jared in third and Josh in fourth.
Out on the show field, Dean Livermore of Hot Rods by Dean was scouring the grounds to select his Builder’s Choice Top 10. Dean is a seasoned veteran and knows how to find the rides that sit right, look right, and have the craftsmanship and attention to detail that set them apart from the pack. His picks were joined by dozens of other award winners at the Sunday afternoon awards ceremony, including: PPG Dream Car, Dean Osland’s ’59 Rambler; Muscle Car of the Year finalist, Bob Shepard’s ’69 Pontiac Grand Prix; and Fuel Curve Pick, Jimmy Shaw’s ’71 Maverick.
The weekend held a ton of excitement beyond just the award-winning rides and AutoCross action. The Nitro Thunderfest filled the event grounds with the ground-pounding sound of vintage nitromethane-fueled drag cars, while the Burnout Contest provided a smoke show that had the crowd cheering for more. There was also the signature Southwest Nationals swap meet filled with cool treasures, not to mention live music, fun activities for kids, hundreds of vendors, and much more.
It’s never easy to see another event season cruise into the sunset. But all the fun we packed into this weekend should be more than enough to sustain us until the 2019 Goodguys season kicks off in March.