Traveling for work withers away at one’s soul but it has one distinct benefit: It offers the ability to test live prospective places to move. For the years that I worked directly for publishers I exploited that by taking stock of every town I visited. That I went those places to either cover an event or work with a manufacturer meant I never had to guess what a particular area’s car culture was like; it was all laid bare as if a real estate agent bent on shops and shows rather than school districts was my guide.

I knew I’d found my next home on my first trip to Goodguys’ Pacific Northwest Nationals. The Northwest, to be specific the west, or more affectionately the wet, side, is incredible. The rain that burdens the Puget Sound area most of the year ceases for several months to reveal what is arguably one of the most glorious summers possible. And it was a dose of good thinking that led Goodguys to schedule the Northwest Nationals smack-dab in the middle of it. It’s sunny but not overbearingly so; the temperature during the days just nudges 80. Mosquitoes are practically unknown in the developed areas, and Mt. Rainier, which is within sight of the fairgrounds, is without a doubt one of the most dramatic backdrops a rainforest could ask for.

That’s nothing to say of the cars. Whether international commerce or the medical, software, or aerospace industries, the Northwest—particularly the area around Seattle—has lots of disposable income. You couldn’t judge by the presence of hybrids but the area boasts one of the densest populations of collector cars in the world. Legend has it that this strip along Interstate 5 has more Classic Registry (that’s pre-Depression big cars like Auburns, Packards, Cords, and Duesenbergs, if you didn’t know) per capita than anywhere else. A well-connected enthusiast can name at least two private collections of nearly any marque within driving distance.

Cars like that don’t exist without infrastructure. Within a few hours’ drive from the fairgrounds are world renowned panel beaters, trimmers, racing engine builders, and painters. We even have a Ridler-winning shop in our midst.

Every year around mid-July this immense enthusiast base and talent pool comes to bear on the Puyallup Fairgrounds. And every year it gets bigger. When I first attended about a decade ago, roughly 1,000 cars showed up, but this year boasted nearly 3,000. Despite extensive site renovation and expansion, parking remains a seriously rare commodity for late risers.

Goodguys Goodtimes Gazette editor Kirk Jones revealed something to me this year; something I’d never given much thought in the past. This event is unique in the sense that activities extend well into the night. After-hour activities are nothing exceptional but most happen off site. Here, though, attendees have taken to staying later than formal event hours, a circumstance that Goodguys has exploited by hiring bands and staff to cater to reveling night owls. Even the campsite adjacent to the fairgrounds is a veritable party.

That’s pretty glowing praise for a car show, especially from someone who admittedly isn’t really interested in shows. But I’d expect no less from anyone else talking about their stomping grounds. To anyone who can’t say as much, I suggest getting a job that requires lots of travel, finding an agreeable place to stay, and moving there.

Painless Performance Products presents Street Rodder Top 100

For the Top 100 program, Street Rodder attends 10 particular car shows each year and picks 10 vehicles at each to make up the Top 100. For more on where those shows are and how they’re voted on, check www.streetrodder.com

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