The Goodguys Great Northwest Nationals in Spokane should actually be called the Summer Vacation Nationals. The clean mountain air, the pines, the lakes and rivers and the brilliant, warm sunshine give you the vibe of being on a camping trip yet this city of a quarter-million people is vibrant and bustling. It’s also a speed-centric community with hot rod hungry enthusiasts and fans. Perfect weather and the passion of the patrons turned the 16th Great Northwest Nationals into a hot rodder’s party for the ages as over 1,300 1972 & earlier (with later model cars on Sunday) gathered at the Spokane County Fair & Expo Center. Sweet 16 was the best one yet!

The fun started early as Thursday’s Poker Run (described as “killer” by one participant) featured no less than eight stops in and around Spokane Valley and just across the border into western Idaho. And back at the fairgrounds, you could just tell by the flood of vendors, indoor cars and swap meet setup that this was going to be a busy weekend. And it was!

Friday’s vibe was chill – a good day to cruise and soak in the sun before heading back to the legendary Mirabeau Park Hotel party scene. With only one Goodguys event in town for the year, the Spokanian’s (and their Canadian brethren down for the weekend) know how to turn up the wick in the hotel parking lot.

Saturday, like all Goodguys events, is “The Day,” and they arrived early. Like before-the-sun-came-up early. As the Duke’s Car Club folks ran the event gates welcoming one and all, the place filled up quick. In the center of it all was the weekend’s featured car club – the wild and wacky Inland Emperors – their traditional hot rods all gathered together for a sinful Saturday. The special parking areas filled up fast, too, and by the time the clock struck noon, it was a full blown scene.

Down from Canada, J.F. Launier of JF Kustoms pontificated and procured his Top 10 Builder’s Choice selections, but it wasn’t easy. The top builders from the inland Northwest had gathered putting on a showcase that got everyone revved up. While the Top 10 were being selected, George Lawrence’s 1970 Hemi Challenger drove off with the Muscle Car of the Year finalist selection. Over 65 other brilliant rods, customs and muscle cars rounded out the award winner’s parade.

Like all Goodguys events, show cars are only part of the story. Jerry “The King” Ruth had the throne to himself as the lone exhibition dragster. We think he likes it that way – the spotlight shining directly on him. He did his fans proud with frenetic top fuel fireups. Our agent Steven Bunker, on hand to cover the proceedings for the Goodguys Gazette as well as this recap, reported that the Kid’s Zone “was the biggest I have ever seen,” offering a bright future for the next generation of rodders. The swap meet didn’t disappoint either as hundreds of vendors offered up vintage hot rod parts and classics in the Cars 4 Sale Corral and the Pinstripers Brush Bash was right up there with the best we’ve seen!

The beautiful countryside, the quaint fairgrounds, friendly folks and the cool cars make our annual trek/vacation to Spokane seem like an oasis at the tail end of a hectic summer season. It is the perfect elixir and recharges us for the fall campaign. Thanks for having us Spokane!