Burn rubber, turn heads, leave green: The Street Rodders are bac - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Burn rubber, turn heads, leave green: The Street Rodders are back

The Street Rod parade gave downtowners a glimpse of what's ahead this weekend at the Exposition Center. (Source: John P. Wise/WAVE3.com) The Street Rod parade gave downtowners a glimpse of what's ahead this weekend at the Exposition Center. (Source: John P. Wise/WAVE3.com)
Admirers posed for photos as a few dozen hot rods took over Fourth Street Live! on Wednesday afternoon. (Source: John P. Wise/WAVE3.com) Admirers posed for photos as a few dozen hot rods took over Fourth Street Live! on Wednesday afternoon. (Source: John P. Wise/WAVE3.com)
(Source: John P. Wise/WAVE3.com) (Source: John P. Wise/WAVE3.com)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - They are the rides you couldn't buy as a kid - tricked out and revved up. The Street Rodders are back in WAVE Country for the 20th straight year.

Some were cruising motel parking lots Monday.

"The best traffic jam you will ever be in in the United States," Kroger marketing representative David Nett told the crowd at Fourth Street Live! at Noon.

The National Street Rod Association brings about 30,000 guests to WAVE Country the first weekend of August. More than 11,000 antique, modified and-or classic cars and pickups. Their drivers and families will book 7,000 hotel rooms.

"They always stop in front of the T-bucket," Fort Madison, IA's Keith Krogmeier said. "It's like a little Matchbox car come to life."

He was referring to "his and hers" 1923 Model T's, remastered in fiberglass and customized down to the broom on the rear bumper of wife Lollie's copper-colored "witch wagon."

"If you would give every 13-year-old a Hot Rod to build and a job to have we wouldn't have problems with drugs or anything else," she said.

SLIDESHOW: National Street Rod preview

Courier-Journal retiree Jeff Sheffield's history with a lady and a 1970 Mustang convertible is a story of love won, lost and found again.

"I had it in high school," he laughed. "That may be the only reason she dated me."

Well, it is painted "Grabber Blue."

"We got married in '74, decided to trade the car in for a new car for her," he said. "But she saved the VIN numbers. Nineteen years later we found it in a barn in Indiana. It was in a Bargain Mart ad," Sheffield said.

Sheffield spent "30 times what I bought it for" putting his speedster back in prime condition.

"The wife still gets top billing," he said. "Most of the time."

Back with the Krogmeiers, Kaden Conley is 3 going on 20, pronouncing the emerald T-Bucket "cool." He's part of the other gathering Louisville has hosted since Monday; the 11,000 children, teenagers and their families with the Assemblies of God Fine Arts Festival at the Kentucky International Convention Center.

Do the Math: The Thursday and Friday spillover will put more than 42,000 guests in the Metro, all looking for a room and a restaurant.

"We came out a little early today for lunch to try to beat the rush,” said Youth Minister David Bauchspiess, of Sioux Falls, SD. He and his 8-year-old daughter Aleyah found a room in LaGrange.

"The drive in hasn't been bad, and the hospitality of the businesses in the area has been great," he said.

Based on previous years, the NSRA is expected to pump $13 million into the economy between Thursday and Sunday, the Louisville Convention & Visitor's Bureau said.

"There is so much for them to do once they get here," NSRA spokesman Jerry Kennedy said. "Beyond what they really came for."

Several made their pitch at Fourth Street Live!.

"We are that track about an hour up the road," said Tim Bray, marketing manager for the Kentucky Speedway in Sparta. "We just completed our July event, the NASCAR triple-header."

"We've six sizes and speeds of go-karts," said Katrina Jackson, of Kart Kountry in Shepherdsville. "All ages can ride. We have kiddy karts for the little ones."

The NSRA is booked through 2020.  

But Sheffield cautions that Louisville shouldn't idle, or throw it into neutral.

"I'm hearing about some tent restrictions at the Fairgrounds, that's a little irritating," he said. "We need to think about facilities.

Negotiations are underway to extend the NSRA's stay through 2025, the Convention & Visitors Bureau confirmed.

Much will change in the next two years. The Ohio River Bridges Project is scheduled for completion. At least 2,000 more hotel-motel rooms will be available, including more than 600 in the more than $300 million OMNI Hotel, retail and apartment-condominium complex is under construction downtown.

The 47th Street Rod Nationals get underway at 8 a.m. Thursday at the Kentucky Exposition Center. Friday hours are 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Admission is $15 for adults, $6 children ages 6-12, children 5 and younger are free.?

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