Generally speaking all of the rod magazines use the "Nationals" as the definitive barometer of sorts for our hobby. Now, there's more than one Nationals. While there are probably five "super" rod runs with entries surpassing 5,000 pre-'49 cars there remains but two benchmark events. The National Street Rod Association (hosted annually in Louisville, Kentucky) and the Goodguys Rod & Custom Association (hosted annually in Columbus, Ohio) are produced each year and touted, and rightly so, as the summers two most significant rodding events. These truly National events present an excellent means of tracking all types of parameters within our hobby from the build styles and colors of cars to the "health" of the business side of our hobby, which includes the manufacturer, the builder and the dealer.

For starters, this month we at STREET RODDER have dedicated a sizeable portion of our editorial coverage to these similar, yet unique, individual events and in so doing the staff hopes to deliver an overall picture of what is currently happening in our hobby. You might call this a "State of the Hobby" editorial.Should you find yourself at an NSRA Nats you will see it all in the pre-'49 era. Attend a Goodguys Nats and you have the expanded coverage through 1972. While there are any number of similarities within these two events it is surprisingly interesting to note the differences both events bring to our hobby. And, this is a good thing.

Clearly the Grand-daddy of rodding Nationals is the NSRA event, which celebrated its thirty-fifth anniversary this past summer, the Goodguys Nats is also srestablished as one of the elite summer events yet it is relatively "young" celebrating its seventh anniversary in 2004.

The scope of build styles keep expanding along with the year, make and model of car used as acceptable building material. Our hobby is clearly spread over the entire scope of years from '03-48. Whether you build a '20s or '30s street rod you will find there's equal enthusiasm (and we believe the pendulum is swinging) for post-'37-48 cars. Also, no longer is Ford the only nameplate given serious consideration. Chevrolet is now well recognized at any rod run with more and more Buicks, Pontiacs, and Oldsmobiles becoming acceptable build material. And let us not forget the Mopar. There were over 100 Mopars on display in the Mopar Country exhibit at this year's NSRA Nats. Badges of the well-known to the little known are now fair game to build.

And it doesn't stop there. Among the notable trends we saw at both summer events was the "super-sized" rod is here. Whether it is a Packard, a Cadillac, a very long Buick or any one of a dozen or so nameplates, the staff noticed many outstanding examples at both events. The larger-than-life street rod is here. In the past there has always been one of these rodding behemoths and they garnered their fair share of interest. Oftentimes these rods were a curiosity more so than a legitimate execution of rodding talents. They always left something to be desired when compared to the quality of the build found elsewhere within the rodding world. Not so anymore. We found everything about these larger-than-life rods to be well done and each car was as or more interesting as the last one.

Rather than take up any more of your time how about you flip through this month's issue and take a gander at what showed up in Columbus and Louisville.