SPEEDWAY — A hot rod invasion took over Indianapolis Motor Speedway this past weekend as the Goodguys Speedway Nationals made its second stop at the world’s most hallowed racing grounds.
The weekend featured the customary mega car show, a chance for entrants to drive their rides around the track, vendor booths, and a new event called the Auto Cross.
Since moving the event from what is now Lucas Oil Raceway Park, the pull of IMS has been felt.
“You’re at the racing capitol of the world,” said Harry Daviess, vice president of events and operations for Goodguys. “It’s a great venue, layout wise, for parking, and if it does rain, it’s not all grass and mud.”
Part of the newfound allure of the event is the opportunity to drive around the track, a significant moment even for veterans of the Goodguys circuit.
“I really had a rush getting on the track for the first time,” said Rod Gordon of Iron Mountain, Mich., who, with his wife Cynthia brought their 1962 Chevy Bel Air to the show. “Last year we had our Corvette here. This year is great. We’re going to do it again, that’s for sure.”
The event transformed from their track cruise, which they had been doing for 21 years at LORP.
Weather caused the shift to IMS.
“We had rain. Lots of rain,” Daviess said. “We got rained on like six years in a row, so attendance was dropping. So we were just looking for a change. At the time, they didn’t do special events here. They did their races — the 500, the Brickyard, and the Moto GP. Well, the economy kind of took a dump as we all know, and a lot of these facilities like IMS saw the opportunity to do special events. After years of bad rain at the drag strip, we decided to pull the trigger and make the change. It wasn’t an easy decision, but we think we made the right one.”
For Betsy Bennett of Goodguys, the Speedway Nationals is a homecoming of sorts, as she grew up in Brownsburg and then Greencastle before finding her way out to California.
“It’s pretty amazing to be able to do an event at IMS,” she said. “I think it’s a privilege for us to be able to be here. This is the racing capitol of the world, and this is the track to be at. I enjoy coming back and just being a part of the history that is here. The backdrop of it is cool, with IMS, the history of racing, and every car guy I know is also a fan of racing so I think that magic of coming to IMS and having this event is cool for them.”
The new Auto Cross event at this year’s show took center stage. There, entrants into the show got the chance to go through a timed obstacle course, showcasing their cars on the move, as well as their driving skills. The event was free for entrants.
Daviess said there were many upgradings to this year’s show.
“What I’ve seen a big improvement with is our builder’s choice area,” he said. “The high end cars that come for the top 10 of the event has really had a resurgence since we’ve come here, so there’s that for people to see.
“The Auto Cross is a huge feature as well. Rebuilding the used auto swap meet is part of our move as well. Then there’s being able to park on pit road, or people getting into the infield of the Speedway, which is something you normally can’t do.”
More information on the Goodguys Rod and Custom Association tour may be found online at www.good-guys.com.