When heading off to the 11th Syracuse Nationals it was easy to take in many of the area's sights. Cruising through the Finger Lakes region not only offers some of the finest views, but also the chance to stop by and visit any one of the 60 local wineries. The National Baseball Hall of Fame (a short hop away) in Cooperstown is filled with historical artifacts from when the game first heard the crack of a bat. Syracuse, a city rich in culture, was also the birthplace of the Franklin automobile and currently boasts one of the largest collections of automobile memorabilia at the Museum of Automotive History; complemented by superb architecture, top-notch restaurants, and great nightlife, the area possesses a winning combination.

The New York State Fairgrounds is an enormous facility encompassing 360 acres featuring some of the coolest tree-lined roads, vintage buildings, horse barns, and open-air eateries, evoking plenty of nostalgic charm at every corner. With a show program and map in hand it was time to park your ride and go exploring to check out the hordes of stoke rods, customs, and muscle cars lining every crevice. While planning out your weekend there was plenty to do, starting with the informative tech seminars presented by many of the industry's leading manufacturers, like Meguiar's, Lokar, and Tremec. With hundreds of vendors lining the roadways and filling the interior of the main exhibition hall it was easy to check out technology now available to us. You can always count on the chance to meet some of Hollywood's well-known legends and this year there were plenty of crowds gathered for an opportunity to talk with both Candy Clark and Paul LeMat of American Graffiti fame. Racking up the miles on his new Shadow Rods XL27 roadster pickup, Jerry Dixey and the AMSOIL/STREET RODDER Road Tour rolled into town to greet countless fans who had plenty of interesting questions about his experiences on the road.

This year the team at the Right Coast turned up the heat to bring even more excitement to the weekend. Wanting to create a special signature award for the Syracuse Nationals, a call was placed to legendary car customizer Gene Winfield to help design and create the very prestigious Winfield Award bearing his name. Through an application process, Winfield hand-selected six cars, which were recognized as the Winfield Select Six. Owners arrived from all over the country and Canada to compete for the inaugural award, which was presented by Meguiar's and included a custom-made trophy, jacket, and check for $5,000. When decision time came, Winfield gave the coveted award to Rich and Paige Udell of Swan Lake, Montana, for their '32 Ford roadster "Timeless". With the success of their Old Skool Roundup in years past, a decision was made to extend the get-together from its original one day through the entire weekend, and to also give it a special mini-venue all its own. A huge open-air pavilion hosted the festivities with hundreds of traditional rods and customs grouped together creating a neat cultural experience for both the car owners and visitors. The happening featured its own specialized trophies, vendors, and searing rockabilly music from the amps of bands like Larry Holt & The Good Acoustics, The Pete Paycheck Band, El Kabong, and Glenn Beaman (as Elvis). Another very successful portion of the event is Artie's Party, a massive pinstriping panel jam that brings in some of the finest talents in the country to create unique artwork to be auctioned off for charity.

The Jeep Rocks & Road Tour was also set up at the infield area allowing visitors to sign up and have a chance to testdrive many of their new Jeep vehicles on a controlled off-road course with trained instructors over many of the challenging driving surfaces they prepared.

This all sounds like a pretty full dance card right? Well, as the sun began to set it was time to head out, fuel up, grab a bite, and head back to the grandstands at the fairgrounds to await the kick off of the evening's festivities. Taking nearly a year to organize, the presentation included an endless tire-burning competition, old-timey figure-eight racing, demolition derby, and scorching flamethrowers with jaw-dropping exhibitions of pyrotechnics, which was capped by a dramatic fireworks display. One of the most anticipated portions of the weekend was the endless giveaway program that commenced on Sunday afternoon. A signature of the Syracuse Nationals, crowds of registered attendees gathered at the main stage to see if they might have the magic number in hand to be lucky enough to take home this year's giveaway car: a hopped-up '70 Nova built by Chop-Shop Customs of Woburn, Massachusetts. By the time the excitement ended, it was Spike Furman of Colonie, New York, who was the lucky one with the keys. By the time the extravaganza came to an end, over 7,300 registered cars cruised the fairgrounds while 85,000 visitors came to check out the vibe.

Thanks to the overwhelming support of the Central New York Car Club Association (who host the event) and area service clubs, donations were made from proceeds of the event in the amount of $70,000 (which included $47,478 from the Panel Jam auctions) to a number of local charities bringing the 11-year donation total to $431,000. If you're looking for an event that has it all, mark your calendar now for the 12th anniversary next year because it's sure to be a blast. You can check it all out at www.rightcoastcars.com.