Delayed But Delightful: NSRA’s 34th Annual Southeast Street Rod Nats

The Annual National Street Rod Association’s Southeast Nats is one of the things many northern hot rodders look forward to each year. When the weather gets blustery and cold up north, they know there’s always an opportunity to shore up those tan lines during the NSRA’s Tampa, Florida event.

Things have been a little different the past couple of years and this event was scheduled months before. Due to the shifting sands of the calendar, the NSRA was able to secure the Florida State Fairgrounds to hold its event this past weekend. We spoke with NSRA’s Jim Rowlett a little bit about how the current situation has affected events nationwide. “The hardest thing is working with the various restrictions for each state,” he said. The NSRA has done an excellent job of communicating the entire time and ensuring that all necessary protocols are in place.

The Florida State Fairgrounds was buzzing with hot-rods, customs, cruisers, and muscle cars galore during the Southeast Nats this past weekend.

All that aside, it was evident those who attended the Southeast Nats had one thing on their minds – having fun with their cars! Any “Nats” event is a perfect time to get together as a group and celebrate all things horsepower. The added benefit of avoiding the frozen tundra up north is just icing on the cake. But the event wasn’t all sunscreen and socializing. There were also several key events planned to keep the party rolling throughout the weekend.

This ’34 Ford coupe is this year’s giveaway car and is being built by Justin Nichols from the TV show, “Wrenched.”

A Thursday-evening parking lot party got things rolling at the host hotel. The next morning, the fairgrounds were full of other festivities such as the Women’s World (gotta keep Mama happy!), model car displays, games for both the old and young-at-heart and Friday culminated in a concert hosted by Cactus Jack & The Cadillacs.

The swap meet area had plenty of parts to scour throughout the event. The indoors midway area had items for collectors, builders, and aficionados galore!

Unscheduled events included the 21-point safety inspection station where enthusiasts could have their rides checked out by the NSRA’s knowledgeable crew for certification of safety award for their build or ideas where they might improve their car’s road-going safety standard. The swap meet is always a favorite with a variety of wares both new and super-rare. Those wanting to finish their projects could shop among those vendors outside in the swap meet or inside the air-conditioned display building. Thankfully, the Chamber-of-Commerce weather throughout the weekend made A/C an afterthought, but it was still nice to get out of the sun for a while.

The sun sparkled off all the chrome and colors throughout the entire weekend, culminating in Sunday’s award ceremony held in the “Circle of Winners,” where attendees could view each of those cars hand-picked by their peers. As attendees were packing their belongings in preparation for the ride home, you could almost hear the calendars being scribbled upon as folks made plans to attend the next event on December 2-4, 2022. Even if you missed the event this year, it’s never too early to start planning for the next event. It’ll be here before you know it!

Engine Swaps That Think Outside Of The Crate!

One of the things you’ll notice when walking any NSRA event is the ingenuity and individuality of the various builds littering the show field. Everything from the rarest engines to the most modern technology finds its way under the hoods of cars shown at these events. We’ve compiled a small list of just some of the various out-of-the-box engine swaps we saw during this year’s event.

Roger Barr's 1972 Monte featured what appeared to be a Chevrolet Performance Ram-Jet 350, but in fact, those coil packs tell a different story. Roger is using an EFI Solutions ECU and a 4L60 trans to modernize his 340-horsepower, small-block Chevy. The car also has a set of Hotchkis lowering springs and a custom interior. Roger purchased the bone-stock car with only 55k miles on the clock and he did all the work himself to get the car exactly as he wanted.

This was found in Ted Lucas’ ’32 Ford so it MUST be true!

Nothing sets a car apart as much as the engine. The Southeast Nats features cars using every conceivable engine combo. Even though the world may be going LS-swap crazy, there are plenty of folks building them down the path less traveled — and as the saying goes, that does make all the difference!

Hemis of all variants were in attendance at the Southeast Nats. There was even a late-model 6.1L hemi for sale in the swap meet.

At the core of hot-rodding is the ingenuity of making things work other than their intended purpose. That even means placing a supercharger on a GM Quad-Four engine, feeding it with a Weber carburetor, and stuffing it into a 1959 Rambler American.

Things are not always what they seem, as noticed in these two engine “swaps.”

That Magnussen supercharger flanked with dual hemi valve covers will get your attention, but don't look too closely. That "Banks Power" plate and twin-turbos in this '41 Willys conceal the V8 within.

All throughout the show field, there were examples of craftsmanship using parts and engines “beyond their intended purpose.” But then again, that’s exactly what hot-rodding and street muscle are all about! If you’d like to see more, just check out the gallery below and see how enthusiasts on the southeast corner of the country choose to enjoy their freedom and ability to modify their vehicles. There are plenty of fine examples, and they may just spark an idea or two for your own project!

Photo gallery

VIEW FULL GALLERY >

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About the author

Andy Bolig

Andy has been intrigued by mechanical things all of his life and enjoys tinkering with cars of all makes and ages. Finding value in style points, he can appreciate cars of all power and performance levels. Andy is an avid railfan and gets his “high” by flying radio-controlled model airplanes when time permits. He keeps his feet firmly grounded by working on his two street rods and his supercharged C4 Corvette. Whether planes, trains, motorcycles, or automobiles, Andy has immersed himself in a world driven by internal combustion.
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