In its early days, Knoxville, Tennessee was described as an alternately quiet and rowdy river town at the confluence of the Holston and French Broad rivers. A way station for travelers and migrants heading west, it was prized by both sides during the Civil War. Later, Knoxville became the third largest wholesaling center in the South, and in 1901, Kid Curry, part of Butch Cassidy’s Wild Bunch, was captured after shooting two deputies.
In 1982, the World’s Fair in Knoxville became one of the most popular in U.S. history with 11 million visitors. The Sunsphere, a 266-foot structure topped with a gold-colored glass sphere, was built for the Fair and remains Knoxville’s most prominent visual icon, a backdrop to the National Street Rod Association’s 38th Annual Street Rod Nationals South Plus, which was held May 4-6.
An estimated 2,500 rods and customs converged on Chilhowee Park and Exposition Center, the 29th time the Street Rod Nationals South Plus has been held here. While in past years the weather was unpredictable, this time around rain was limited to the early morning hours and temperatures in the mid-70s all weekend made the outdoor event pleasant.
Among the manufacturers and dealers displaying their products were: Advanced Plating, Alumicraft, BeBop’s Glass Works, Billet Specialties, Brice Thomas Radiator, Brookville Roadster, Cherry Bomb, Chris Alston’s Chassisworks, Cragar Wheels, Danny’s Rod Shop, Eddies Rod Shop, Fat Man Fabrication, Gotta Show, Hot Heads, Independent Technologies, Inland Empire Driveline, JW Rod Garage, Lecarra, Lokar, Mr. Gasket/Prestolite, Powermaster, PPG, Revell, Sanderson Headers, Southern Air, Speedway Motors, Stainless Specialties, Steele Rubber Products, Tanks, Tea’s Seats, Walker Radiator Works and Yogi’s.
Unlike some indoor shows where it’s okay to unload your ride at the freight door and push it in, the NSRA has an edict where every vehicle must enter the grounds under its own power. What a visual treat the NSRA has inadvertently provided to anyone on a roadway to their events, with rods and customs of every description motoring along. Is this the inspiration for the next generation of hot rodders?
Photo Gallery (click on image to enlarge):