There are car shows, there are events, and there are institutions. The Street Machine Summer Nationals falls into the latter category. Each year the event takes over the Minnesota State Fairgrounds and turns it into an epic an automotive extravaganza, which includes an autocross, a car show, a cruise, a dyno challenge and more.
Somehow we had never made it to this event until 2017, and we have to say we are blown away by the experience. Not only is it massive — Family Events, the company behind the event, estimates that over 7,000 cars and 50,000 people attend over the course of the three days and we don’t have a hard time believing that.
For almost three decades, this has been a place for street machine and muscle car guys to gather,” — Doc Riley, Street Machine Nationals
Down every street of the fairgrounds we would find another row of cool cars. Since we are used to going to Ford-only shows, the variety much wider. However, it wasn’t just makes in models. It was the style and aesthetic of the cars. It ranged from rat rods to hot hatches and classic to modern muscle cars. Moreover, the cars weren’t all pristine show machines. There was plenty of showy stuff, but there was just as much daily driven iron.
Street Machine Challenge
To have a chance to win, you must place highly in at least two of these categories, as first place earns 30 points, second place earns 20 points, third place earns 10 points, and top horsepower is the tiebreaker. That’s just what happened in the Muscle Car class, where a Ford checked all the right boxes.
According to the Street Machine Challenge, “Brandon Clemens took his 1964 Ford Falcon to a decisive win with 60 points, taking first place in both the autocross and stop box with 32.930 and 2.967 second runs respectively.”
We watched him run in the autocross and the stop/start challenge and he was definitely doing well and we were happy that a Blue Oval machine prevailed in at least one of the Street Machine Challenge classes.
Aside from the static vehicles, there is a steady stream of car cruising around the fairgrounds, while those interested in even more activity could participate in the aforementioned competition as well as the triathlon of events that make up the Street Machine Challenge (see sidebar).
“It’s kind of just morphed into a good-time weekend for everybody. Over the years we have added some driving competitions, and the QA1 autocross has been wildly successful,” Doc said.
“…Probably 10 or 15 years go we wouldn’t have had anybody doing autocross. It was kind of park and show the shine a little bit, but it’s good to see that everything cycles through. Guys like to go out and put their rides through their paces and this is a good place for it,” he added.
“There will be more of the same, which is part of the charm of this place, but we may try to look at some more driving performance-type events and try to expand that way,” Doc added.
If you missed this year’s event you’ll have to wait till next July to hit St. Paul, however, the next Street Machine Nationals event takes place in Springfield, Missouri, on September 23 and you can learn more about it here.