Gathering at the Roc – A Late-Season Run for the Traditional Hot Rod Faithful
Imagine getting a couple hundred like-minded hot rod buddies together and spending two days cruising backroads, stopping at cool sights, sharing stories, and hanging out in one of your favorite scenic outdoor spaces. That’s the premise behind The Gathering at the Roc, billed as a “hot rod show for the discerning man,” which was held over Halloween weekend in Oklahoma.
Show organizers Jason Smith and Brandon McCullough are good friends who have long enjoyed visiting Woolaroc, a 3,700-acre ranch and wildlife preserve outside of Bartlesville, Oklahoma founded in 1925 as a retreat for oilman Frank Phillips – the man behind the Phillips 66 brand. The ranch is home to many species of both native and exotic wildlife, such as bison, elk, and longhorn cattle. It’s also home to an amazing museum showcasing Western art, Native American artifacts, and one of the finest collections of Colt firearms anywhere.
Jason and Brandon thought it would be cool to bring some hot rods to Woolaroc for a laid-back, one-day gathering, so they started laying some groundwork for a first-time event to be held on Saturday, October 31. The plan soon grew to include a Friday reliability run around some scenic portions of northeast Oklahoma. Jason, who is part of the father-and-son team that owns the Hot Rod Garage in Sand Springs, Oklahoma, has a good network of friends, and both he and Brandon are buddies with the Jalopy Journal’s Ryan Cochran, who agreed to help with publicity and logistics. With artist Jimmy Smith on board to help with graphics, show planning began to take shape in early 2020.
Momentum grew throughout the year, driven primarily by word of mouth and social media networking via Instagram. Even as COVID took its toll on many shows and events, interest in the Gathering at the Roc grew, with enthusiasts from as far as Arizona, Minnesota, Maryland, and Virginia getting registered and planning to make the journey to Oklahoma. In a year that’s been disappointing in so many ways, the Gathering was looking to be a late-season bright spot.
The anticipation proved to be warranted, as the Gathering was a big hit for those who attended. By Thursday evening, the host hotel parking lot was packed with early hot rods and old and new friends who had cruised in from around the region and across the country. The Friday reliability run traversed more than 100 miles, taking the caravan of hot rods through scenery we wouldn’t have expected in Oklahoma, complete with autumn colors and a lingering lunch stop in the tourist town of Pawhuska. The run concluded at the Hot Rod Garage, with a bonus stop at the private collection of Bruce and Judy Ricks a few miles away.
The laid-back vibe continued during the show on Saturday. Woolaroc proved to be both relaxed and scenic – an ideal space to spend a day kicking back, enjoying time with friends, checking out the hot rods and customs, and soaking in the scenery. Food trucks kept the crowd fed, while the facility’s wildlife and the adjacent museum provided an interesting diversion from the hot rods. Even the afternoon awards ceremony was casual, with a variety of picks selected by builders, media outlets, artists, and fellow rodders.
Good friends, cool cars, and a great venue – three ingredients for a fun event. The Gathering at the Roc combined these elements in a very special way. It had a wonderful vibe for a first-time show and we truly hope they can build on the inaugural success and keep rodders coming back to gather at the Roc for years to come.
Gathering at the Roc Photo Extra!
Photos by Damon Lee