Since opening in 1959, the elite drivers of NASCAR, Indycar, the American Stock Car Association and even IROC drivers have attempted to tame Charlotte Motor Speedway – otherwise known as the Beast of the Southeast. The 1.5-mile quad oval has produced some of the most thrilling moments in Motorsports including Darrell Waltrip’s “Tide Slide” in the 1989 Winston Million. Like racing’s biggest stars, hot rodding’s elite have had the opportunity to turn the historic facility into their own personal showcase each fall. For the 23rd consecutive year, the Goodguys Pennzoil Southeastern Nationals covered every square inch of infield asphalt and every blade of grass offering the region’s gearheads one last crack of show & shine fun and constant cruising before the pumpkin frost hits its stride.
Last weekend’s showcase of speed and kandy colors was a barnburner as over 2,500 vintage hot rods, customs, muscle cars, and potent pickups rumbled the roost under breathtaking sunny skies. In fact, it was so packed, it prompted one event veteran to say early in the weekend, “This is the busiest Friday in Charlotte I have ever seen.” They arrived early, stayed late, shined ‘em up, and shopped the midway for hours on end. The buzz was bountiful and the vibe was electric.
Charlotte and the North Carolina region is Detroit Speed country – the nation’s most prominent manufacturer of suspension tuning components for classic GM muscle cars. The entire DSE team spent weeks preparing for this year’s event, handcrafting their signature Builder’s Choice awards, making their shop spotless for a Goodguys Gazette shop visit as well as a full blown TGIF Party which attracted over 500 locals and out of towners alike.
On the track, they enjoyed a banner weekend as stable driver Ryan Mathews continued to climb the Goodguys AutoCross points standings with a big PRO class win in DSE’s red, white and blue C3 Corvette. His 31.009 eclipsed runner-up Robbie Unser’s 31.714. Other big AutoCross winners included Mark Rife in Street Machine (’63 Corvette 31.892), Russell McLarin in Hot Rod (’32 Ford roadster 38.020), Derek Brown in Truck (’67 Ford F-100 33.811) and Rob Machado won the K & N Filters All American Sunday division in his brand new Corvette logging a 33.415.
In Saturday’s Builder’s Choice arena, DSE President Kyle Tucker methodically walked the track’s famous pit road, meticulously inspecting and looking over the best builds of the year. With only ten slots available for a coveted Builder’s Choice award, his selections were spot on blending the signature cars from the top names in our hobby with several local builds on par with the best anywhere.
Making former track president Humpy Wheeler proud, the event was filled with thrills and special exhibitions. For decades, Wheeler was at the forefront of historic, special event promotions inside the track’s hallowed grounds. He came out Saturday to witness firsthand the high-flying act of Team FMX’s motorcycle stunt show. Those with a hankering for history were treated to special vintage race car exhibit inside the garage area with an exhibit featuring over 30 NASCAR and dirt track race cars dating back to the ‘50s and ‘60s.
For treasure hunters, the Southeastern Nationals swap meet and cars for sale corral never disappoints and this year was no exception. Coordinating his last Goodguys swap meet of the 2016 season, Jeff Johnson worked for months to ensure the southern rodders had plenty to pick over one last time before season’s end. Over 400 sellers offered up rare parts, rare cars and smokin’ deals!
Once the sun went down Saturday evening, just like their NASCAR and Indycar heroes, every single participant who cared to tour The Beast got their crack at the steep banked turns and to cross the finish line. To see their smiles and cameras flashing always feels good. They cruised the track for what seemed like hours!
The last Goodguys event of the year east of the Mississippi, the 23rd Pennzoil Southeastern Nationals was the best yet. We have never seen it this busy here which mirrors what we have been saying all year – the times have never been better in the wonderful world of hot rods and customs. Thanks to everyone who came and conquered the Beast of the Southeast!
Click here for the award winner’s list: 23rd Pennzoil Southeastern Nationals Award Winners
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