Hot Rod Heaven

By Chuck Vranas – Photography by the Author

There’s nothing quite like opening the garage door and firing up your hot rod or custom to head out to a large national event, especially with everything that’s passed over the last car show season. The sound of hopped-up V-8s rumbling through town is easily enough to raise your pulse rate through the stratosphere. It’s the sheer enjoyment of mapping out travel plans and enjoying the overall experience of finally hitting the open road again with a cool destination in mind that makes it all worthwhile. For the 21st year, the NAPA Auto Parts Syracuse Nationals welcomed performance car and truck enthusiasts to the New York State Fairgrounds for a truly memorable weekend-long horsepower festival supercharged by a jam-packed event schedule full of neat things to check out.


Entering the fairgrounds you’re greeted by an expansive 360 acres of nicely paved roads, many of them tree-lined, accented by an assortment of vintage buildings, horse and livestock barns, and memorable open-air eateries evoking plenty of charm from every corner. With a program in hand it was a perfect time to get settled and go exploring to take in thousands of amazing hot rods, customs, classic trucks, and muscle cars literally lining every available parking space. While there you could have checked out everything from the competition for the Tucci Hot Rods Pros Pick and Designer Dozen Awards as well as the Memories on Main Street Antique Auto exhibition, RC No-Prep Drags, massive swap meet and car corral. There was also Sparky’s Rockabilly Roundup showcasing plenty of traditional hot rods fused with an endless stream of high-energy bands performing. Nitro Row was a blast from the past with a wicked selection of nostalgic Funny Cars and Dragsters firing up at scheduled times to bring the thunder accented by even more bands performing in the Nationals After-Dark tent well into the evening.

Check Out: The Customizing Guru (Gene Winfield) Continues to Shape Metal


The new Exposition Center hosted plenty of action as well starting with a myriad of showstoppers featured in the Signature Showcase, which included the “Red Baron” and
“Monkeemobile” show cars, to name but a few. The Winfield Award, presented by legendary customizer Gene Winfield, focused on competition of the Winfield Select Six, generating lots of excitement throughout the weekend. This year’s award winner was an absolutely glamorous 1956 Oldsmobile custom owned by Jeff Hess. Finally, The Syracuse Charity Brush Bash brought together many of the world’s top artists participating in a three-day pinstriping and panel jam to be auctioned off, benefiting The Ronald McDonald House of Central New York. It was truly a memorable weekend and we can’t wait to check it out again in 2022! You can see more at rightcoastcars.com. MR

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