Goodguys HROTY Cruise, Fuel Curve

Hot Rods from Hell! Crazy Coupes Take Over Nashville

Photos by Mike Harrington and Steven Bunker

Hide your kids, hide your wives…hell-raisin’ hot rodders are here in Nashville for the weekend. Today marked the annual Goodguys/Tank’s Hot Rod of the Year Reliability Run and it was a harrowing happenin’, to say the least! For the most part, dastardly downpours from surrounding storms were held at bay as these hell-bent hot rodders steered their machines through the melee in search of the biggest prize in their scene – the Hot Rod of the Year crown.

As big awards go – this is the most combustible ticket in hot rodding right now. In fact, it has been for some time now. Youngsters and graybeards alike are rekindling their love affair with vintage prewar tin – specifically early Fords. At least 41 cars participated in today’s backroad boogie.

The list of entrants was familiar with some twists thrown in. The rods and gow jobs rolled into Nash Vegas from every damn where – Texas, West Virginny, Ohio, Nebraska, Alabama and the dirty south. Ted Hubbard’s raked blown Ardun Model A, Matthew Gordon’s “Time Merchant” ’32 roadster pickup, Dr Dan Peterson’s “Hill Country Flier” ‘32 Ford roadster, the “Angry A’s” from Bobby Hilton and Tony Lombardi, Harold Chapman, One-off Custom Rods’ emerald deuce roadster, Mike Goldman’s black ’32 hair-blower, Marty Bachand’s coupe and others turned up the wick.

On the carnage report, Beth & John Stivala’s emerald green Model A Tudor out of the Bobby Hilton/Lombardi stable guy got smashed into at a stop light from behind. But! Their hot rod spirit prevailed. They fixed it, sucked it up and rejoined the road rebels albeit a bit worse for wear. That’s bitchin!

Goodguys HROTY Cruise, Fuel Curve

There is no angel hair, rock salt or spotlights when it comes to winning this award. The spirit of the Hot Rod of the Year was cast by late legends Gary Meadors (Goodguys founder), Bill Burnham and Gray Baskerville. Even though Burnham and Baskerville were had checked into hot rod heaven when HROY was first awarded in 2005 – they were all about gnarsome, street-driven hot rods and the men who build them.

So how is this thing picked anyhow? It’s actually pretty cool. All entrants are mandated to gather at Nissan Stadium in Nashville by 9 am Friday morning, then they’re given instructions, route maps and special decals they must get check marks on as the Reliability Run progresses throughout the rolling hills of Music City.

They get to throttle stomp down interstates, visit special spots like this year’s venture to historic Marathon Motors, Grooms Engines and out to billionaire Willis Johnson’s horse farm and private hot rod collection.

After a blast up the Natchez Trace on the outskirts of town, it was a rumble in the pits at Music City Drag-O-Way – a place that would give even Ned Beatty the creeps. After 1/8th mile carbon-blowing sprints down the blacktop, the whole gang rumbles back to town.

The top five are picked out of the pack mid-day Saturday then the overall winner is announced Sunday. Come back sometime Monday to see which hot rod raised the most hell.

hot rods from hell

hot rods from hell

hot rods from hell

Senior Editor, Digital Media

With three decades of automotive journalism under his belt, John Drummond serves as Senior Editor – Digital Media for Fuel Curve and Goodguys Rod & Custom Association where he has worked since 1990. Drummond got his start in motorsports reporting by making a fake press pass to gain starting line access. The ruse worked and he began covering auto races as far back as 1986 in Northern California, eventually getting his stories published worldwide. He has owned and driven everything from a 1957 Plymouth Belvedere to a ridiculously modded Subaru WRX as well as a string of Mercedes AMG’s, most of which had the warranties voided the day after leaving the dealership.

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