The state of Kentucky is well known for thoroughbreds, bluegrass, bourbon, and college basketball. For the past few days, Goodguys has added hot rods, customs, muscle cars, and classic vehicles to that list, as our newest event – the Kentucky Nationals – took over the spacious and picturesque Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington.

If attendance and enthusiasm are any indicators, this new October event is destined for big things! Rodders rolled in from throughout the region to enjoy some laid-back, early-autumn automotive fun. The temps are a little cooler and the vibe is a little more chill right now, making this the perfect time to be in Lexington.

A relaxed two-lane hot rod tour kicked things off on Thursday, visiting destinations ranging from an historic distillery, to an apple orchard, to a specialty automotive consignment shop. We kicked things into high gear by ending the cruise at Shelby’s Speed & Kustom for a kickoff party filled with cool cars, great tunes, tasty barbecue, and good friends.

The Kentucky Horse Park grounds filled up quickly on Friday as vintage rides added a different type of autumn color to the Kentucky landscape. Cool morning temperatures didn’t keep these diehard rodders from rolling in early for a good spot! The main lot was packed Friday and Saturday, giving Jesse Greening plenty of fine iron to choose from for his Builder’s Choice Top 10 picks.

The Goodguys team was making plenty of picks, as well, including the first 2019 MSD Muscle Car of the Year finalist spot which went to Daryl Nelson’s ’69 Mercury Montego MX, plus a Gazette Pick – awarded to Gary Brown’s small-block 427-powered ’56 Chevy – as well as a Fuel Curve Feature Pick, which went to Greg Cainforth’s homebuilt, LS-swapped 1965 Volvo Wagon.

This new venue has a great space for Goodguys AutoCross and the competitors were hittin’ it hard all weekend. The hard-charging, cone-dodging action culminated in the first-ever Southern Shootout presented by Holley Performance EFI on Saturday afternoon. The 16-car bracket stepped its way down to two familiar Corvettes in the final round – Danny Popp’s blue C3 and Jared Leisinger’s Summit-sponsored stormer. It was Popp who claimed the win and took home the bragging rights. Popp also was the overall Street Machine class winner while Jared Leisinger was the PRO class winner. Other class winners were Jason Brady in the Truck class and Sam Matchett in Hot Rod.

Beyond the cars, there was a full lineup of vendors showcasing the latest rod and custom parts, a swap meet full of bargains, live bands, and a Kids Zone for the little ones. All in all, it made for a great hot rod weekend, setting the stage for another great autumn event on the Goodguys calendar. We can’t wait to roll back into the Kentucky hills in 2019!