Weekend Rewind! Goodguys 5th North Carolina Nationals in Raleigh

We’re always excited to take our first trip east of the Mississippi River each year, and for the past few seasons the event that has brought us back to this region has been the North Carolina Nationals in Raleigh. This laid-back springtime event has been quietly building steam and the fifth-annual gathering this weekend continued that trend with thousands of cool rides, tons of activities, and great overall weather to help get the 2019 Southeast rodding season started!

North Carolina Nationals in Raleigh, Goodguys, Goodguys Raleigh, North Carolina Car Shows

North Carolina Nationals in Raleigh, Goodguys, Goodguys Raleigh, North Carolina Car Shows

The best thing about springtime events is seeing all the new and updated builds that have kept rodders busy through the winter. There was plenty of fresh iron streaming through the gates of the North Carolina State Fairgrounds through the weekend, along with many old friends and familiar favorites. Word is getting out about the cool vibe of this fun three-day affair, so it just keeps getting better and better!

North Carolina Nationals in Raleigh, Goodguys, Goodguys Raleigh, North Carolina Car Shows

After a Thursday evening kickoff party at Raleigh Speed Shop, we hit the ground running on Friday with both indoor and outdoor displays of cars. Morning rain on Friday slowed things down at first, but when it cleared hot rods, muscle cars, classics and trucks started piling in and made for a great day! Come Saturday, we were treated to picture-perfect weather from sun up to sun down and our friend Jonathan Goolsby from Goolsby Customs had scores of cool rides to choose from for his Builder’s Choice selections – narrowing it down to just 10 was the tough part! As always, Jonathan came through and made some fantastic picks.

Beyond the Builder’s Choice selections, the Goodguys team gave out dozens of awards in a wide range of categories, including some finalist selections for our annual Top 12. Charles Donaldson picked up the Muscle Car of the Year finalist nod with his 1970 Mercury Cougar, while Bob Bertelsen got the Griot’s Garage Muscle Machine of the Year finalist spot with his AutoCross-raced 1968 Corvette. We also selected a 2019 Scott’s Hotrods Truck of the Year Early which went to Kevin & Sally Smith’s 1949 Chevy 3100 and a Vintage Air Custom Rod of the Year won by Charles Baxley with his gorgeous 1957 Chevy. We shot James Seltzer’s 1949 Chevy 3100 for a Gazette Pick as well as Beth Hazelwood’s 1974 Plymouth Duster which earned the Fuel Curve Pick that you’ll see more of right here in the coming months.

The AutoCross action was nonstop all weekend as racers gunned for a spot in Saturday’s Rumble in Raleigh Shootout presented by BFGoodrich. Summit Racing driver Josh Leisinger was unstoppable winning both the PRO-X class win as well as the PRO-X / PRO shootout. Doubling up as well was Bob Bertelsen who won the PRO class adding that to his Muscle Machine of the Year nomination. Bill Graves Sr. took home the Street Machine, Truck and Hot Rod shootout win as well as the Street Machine class victory while Brad Bedsaul won the Truck class and Christopher Haigler claimed the Hot Rod class win. On Sunday it was Cliff Elliott doubling up for the All American Sunday class win as well as the Sunday Shootout victory.

North Carolina Nationals in Raleigh, Goodguys, Goodguys Raleigh, North Carolina Car Shows, Goodguys Autocross, Autocross

There was more action beyond the cones, with a Saturday night Demolition Derby, a Burnout Competition, plus three Nitro Thunderfest exhibitions! Add in live bands, fun kids’ activities, a model car show, huge swap meet, and a full lineup of great vendors, and you had a springtime gearhead getaway that was tough to beat! Check out the photos and it should be easy to see why more and more rodders are rallying to Raleigh each year.

North Carolina Nationals in Raleigh, Goodguys, Goodguys Raleigh, North Carolina Car Shows, NC State Fairgrounds

Photos by Steven Bunker and Todd Ryden

Editor, Goodguys Gazette

Damon Lee began snapping photos at car shows when he was 10, tagging along with his father to events throughout the Midwest. He has combined his passion for cars and knack for writing and imagery into a 20-year career in the automotive aftermarket, writing for titles like Super Chevy and Rod & Custom and, more recently, working for respected industry leaders Speedway Motors and Goodguys Rod & Custom Association.

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