Truly, there are many great hot rod events throughout the calendar year. Some are indoor, or outdoor, or a combination of both. Some are famous because of their history,or what they represent, or theirindustry support. Yet some of the best are local while others are national in their appeal. Now there is a new event on the calendar that has everyone talking and planning for next year … the Triple Crown of Rodding presented by PPG.
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Look for this event to happen each year the weekend after Labor Day at the Nashville Superspeedway in Lebanon, Tennessee (30 miles north of Nashville). The 2024 date is September 6–7, 2024.
It should be noted that the Triple Crown of Rodding (TCR) presented by PPG as an award has been around since 2016 and now, beginning in 2023, it has become its own event. It has grown into a bigger and better version of itself. The event, while everything we have come to enjoy about a large gathering of hot rods, also had a feeling from a long time ago. With so many of the country’s top builders and manufacturers present it was “almost” like being back in the early days of our hobby. It was a time when everyone wanted to meet everyone and everyone wanted to make new friends.
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Plenty of great awards for great hot rods. Creativity and craftsmanship earmarked these awards, but then again you have some of the finest builders in the country making the awards so that’s expected.
But now onto what happened this year. The competition was staggering for the contenders competing in the car groupings. It’s not often, in fact we doubt if ever, there has been an event that featured two Grand National Roadster Show America’s Most Beautiful Roadster winners, several AMBR runners-up, a current and past Slonaker winner, a Legend Cup winner, two Detroit Ridler winners, and several more Great 8 award winners. The truck category winners were also top–notch, and we can only imagine that the competition for these three TCR awards will become even more “brutal” next year.
As far as the individuality of the awards, how about the Builder’s Pick from Roadster Shop. Presented by Phil and Jeremy Gerber, the “Gold Record” is a unique award–note the album cover, very clever.
In the past, the three categories of Street Rod of the Year, Street Machine of the Year, and Street Cruiser of the Year brought out some keynote worthy hot rods. Now that the TCR has grown into its own event, it has also expanded its level of coverage. With the three car categories there are now three truck categories: Truck of the Year 72 and Earlier, Truck of the Year 73-87, and Truck of the Year 88-98.
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Taking home the ARP-sponsored Triple Crown of Rodding Street Machine of the Year was Kevin Hart for his ’70 Dodge Charger built at Kindig It Design. The Mopar also took home a CPP-sponsored Elite 10 award and the Roadster Shop Builder’s Pick.
Triple Crown SG Special Gibson Guitars
In the past, the TCR award was a one-of-a-kind polished and chrome billet trophy. (Originally designed by Tom Gale of Chrysler Corporation fame and constructed and assembled through the efforts of Classic Instruments and Advanced Plating. Even the carrying case was a one-of-a-kind wooden case constructed by the Classic Instruments staff.) There are now six incredible trophies but to this there are now six incredible one-of-a-kind Gibson SG1 guitars built and assembled by Advanced Music Products, a division of Advanced Plating. Each winner was handed a one of six custom-serialized Triple Crown SG Special guitar made ofa Mahogany one-piece wooden body painted in PPG Alloway Black lacquer with a Mahogany slim–tapered neck, a bound authentic Indian Rosewood fingerboard, and custom hand–wound, single–coil P90 pickups … the hot rod of guitar parts. More custom touches include Orange drop capacitors, true historic compensated wraparound bridge, custom chrome–plated pickguards, laser etched for each winner’s category, ARP (cars) or LMC (trucks) sponsor name on the neck, chrome truss rod cover and switch top, and vintage deluxe tuners. These guitars feature plated hardware and the internal components from Advanced Music Products, a division of Advanced Plating under Steve Tracy’s watchful eye and supervision of Gibson USA. (For those who know their guitar history you will recognize the Gibson SG1 was produced from 1972-1975. The original Gibson SG was released in 1961. The story is told that LesPaul disliked the guitar so much he had Gibson take his name off. Now it’s the number one selling guitar. Mary Ford, Les Paul’s wife, had her personal 1961 Gibson Les Paul SG recently resurfacefor public auction.) The Gibson guitars also come in their own TKL Vectra MC Gold–colored molded case with a Cushion-Soft plush lining, and the case is printed with the TCR and Advanced Plating logos. Coupled with these unique awards there is an automatic invitation to the Gold Cup competition at the Barrett-Jackson Auction in January 2024. To round out these awards as a Griot’s Master Car Care kit with the TCR logo patch.
Then came the Builder’s Pick. A one-of-a-kind custom award is built by each of the builders and presented to the car owner of the builder’s own choosing. These builders represented the industry by sitting at an autograph table where rodders could get all manners of goodies autographed, photos taken, and great conversations begun. If one looked closely you would have seen that these industry luminaries sat at a table in front of a sign that listed many of our industry’s core who have “gone before.” A fitting tribute to honor all those who offered up their time and talents to make our industry what it is today.
The autograph table (several hours each day) was comprised of Dave Kindig (Kindig It Design), Jonathan Goolsby (Goolsby Customs), Kyle Tucker (Detroit Speed), Jerry and Jason Slover (Pete & Jakes Hot Rod Parts), Roy Brizio (Roy Brizio Street Rods), Jesse Greening (Greening Auto Company), Ken Fenical (Posies), Jimmy and Will Posey (Big Oak Garage), Alan Johnson (Johnson’s Hot Rod Shop), Jim and Mike Ring (Ringbrothers), Phil and Jeremy Gerber (Roadster Shop), Troy Trepanier (Rad Rides by Troy), and Chip Foose (Foose Design). These are our industry’s top-notch builders who have won it all and continue to represent our hobby/industry in admirable ways.
Top 30 and Elite 10
But there was more. Next up were the awards for the Top 30 and then the Elite 10 with these beautiful custom awards presented by Classic Performance Products (CPP). To make it through the judging gauntlet one had to make the Top 30 and from here the competition became even more strenuous to be selected for the Elite 10. Last up was the judging by car or truck category to see who would be one of the overall six who would be crowned the Triple Crown of Rodding award winners. We believe that the awards that were handed out are by far some of the nicest, if not the nicest, awarded at any event in the country.
We’ve mentioned how each of the builders came through by building their own trophy and by selecting their favorite. It should be mentioned that the trophies were amazing in their creativity but there was one award that was of particular interest.
The Ring brothers, Mike and Jim, created what might have been the unique award of the many one-of-a-kind awards. In speaking with Nancy Ring as Jim and Mike were “buried” speaking and signing autographs, she told us the brothers started out with a 65-pound chunk of aluminum. The story behind the trophy was to reflect the journey any hot rodder or professional builder experiences throughout their life’s journey or career.
Nancy told me that the base of the trophy was intended to be left rough and underdeveloped, like all of us are in our beginnings. Over the course of time, we hone our skills, increase our challenges, and expand our limits. If you have a chance to see the trophy (next year in person) you will see that the tool paths along the bottom portion of the trophy are coarse and less controlled. As the machining moves up the pillars, the tool paths are increasingly more complex, filled with more detail, and more refined until the aluminum is finished in a bright polish. Any of us who have built a hot rod realize it isn’t as simple as adding more time; “the best laid plans” don’t always go as planned. But we “endeavor to persevere” and it is the challenge that keeps us coming back. Nancy told me there were plenty of those moments while this trophy was crafted. In fact, the Ring brothers purchased a new piece of equipment, a five-axis CNC, couple this with the program that is now in place and maybe next year’s trophy will be a little less of a challenge. Kinda like building your second and third project! One last comment on the Ringbrothers award … look closely at the top and note the fine print: “That’s Cool As F##%!” … we couldn’t have said it any better.
Lest you begin to think that only the six topflight award winners get it all, you should have seen the awards that went to seven Show Picks by the likes of the American Tri-Five Association, the TCR Association, Goodguys Rod & Custom Association, Strange Motion Rod & Custom, Street Machinery, Not Stock Photography, and Sata Paint Guns. These awards were custom and one-offs in most applications.
But let’s say you have come this far but you know you won’t find yourself in the running for one of these truly awesome awards … there is still the 2023 Chevy pickup. It was customized by Alloway’s Hot Rod Shop featuring Billet Specialties wheels along with a Wade Hughes flame paint with Josh Shaw ’striping. It should be noted that the truck was white from the factory while Alloway and his staff disassembled the truck and painted it in PPG Alloway Black … very befitting. John Sutherland III, of Pekin, Illinois, drove home his new everyday ride.
Let’s say you didn’t win the pickup, there was always the 50/50 drawing. While half of the $22,216 did go to one individual the other half was given to the local offices of the Multiple Sclerosis Society. Thomas Lee Cauble of Atoka, Tennessee, was the lucky one who went home with a much “fatter” wallet of $11,108.
For those who weren’t taking home any “iron” there was still plenty to enjoy with the 117-plus hard parts manufacturers on Manufacturers Row, a collection of vintage Funny Cars and dragsters at the ready to fire off each day, filling the air with good ol’ nitro mix. There was also a kids’ coloring area sponsored by PPG as well as a Pinstriper’s Auction. There was plenty of food to sample on Restaurant Row as well as all sorts of other sights and sounds to avail one of while walking about the Nashville Superspeedway. The headquarters hotel (which is already sold out for 2024) is amid a hotel row that is sure to be overflowing with hot rodders in 2024. Be on the lookout for nighttime outdoor entertainment at the headquarters Embassy Suites Nashville in Murfreesboro. The event was ideally suited for a family as parking was free and an adult ticket was $20. Kids 15 and under got in free with a paying adult. You don’t see that at high-profile events across the country anymore. We are told that pricing will be held in place for 2024. This is truly a family affair and with 1,700-plus hot rods in attendance in 2023 we can only imagine that number is going to escalate significantly in 2024.
There was an amazing “feel” about the event and all of us believe it is here to stay. A heartfelt “thank you” should be given to the two hot rodders who made all this possible–Bobby Alloway and Gary Case. We think they are onto something, and we will be betting next year will be even more of the same good ol’ hot rod feeling. Should you find yourself wishing to be part of this amazing show you might check out what information is available for the Triple Crown of Rodding presented by PPG at triplecrownofrodding.com. MR