It’s always fun to celebrate a milestone and this year’s Round Up in Austin, Texas, did just that with its 10th annual event. What started as a gathering on a football field of hot rodders, artists, and musicians who thoroughly enjoy “old-style” hot rods and customs has broadened. The event focus is wide in scope, making it more than a car gathering. It’s also a celebration of music and enjoying today’s interpretation of a lifestyle from a former era. The Round Up is hosted by the Kontinentals Car Club of Austin, and they clearly have the feel to organize a first-rate gathering—it’s different and you better be ready for a change.
It is the ancillary happenings that make this event unique in the world of rod runs. Fellow club member Steve Wertheimer owns The Continental Club located on South Congress; (known for its live music since 1957. Steve took over in 1987 and restored the club to its ’50s atmosphere and now during the Round Up it serves as one of the focal points for nighttime entertainment and local cruising). As with any cruise night there’s the expected and then there’s the unexpected! To say there are some oddities cruising up and down South Congress would be an understatement. It’s a badge of pride that the citizenry wish to “Keep Austin Weird,” or so say the bumper stickers and airport T-shirts.
Mark Gustafson (left) was our Garage Crawl organizer, group leader, and all around cat-wra
The Round Up has clearly mastered the mix of multiple happenings brought together to banner one event. The Travis County Expo Center in Austin provides ample area for thousands of cars and trucks built in rod or custom fashion to be displayed but it also provides for the “other” side of this car event.
Should you find yourself wanting to attend it’s best to understand the fun truly begins on Thursday at noon at Reggie’s then off to Bill’s for the Thunderbolts Thirsty Thursday. Thursday night is Texas-style barbecue. Get ready to be handed a piece of wax paper and then loaded with some of the best barbecue you will ever have—I know I’ve eaten my way through a lot of great barbecue. But it doesn’t stop there.
Friday morning is the Garage Crawl hosted by Mark Gustafson. He is a local hot rodder and firefighter with enough connections to have the Travis County constable issue an escort for the 100-plus rods making the “Crawl.” Starting bright and early on Friday at the Cracker Barrel, Gustafson ushered this collection of rods on a tightly knit tour of four garages owned by Tony Adsley, Jim Green, Lee Wood, all starting at the host’s garage. The last stop is the Dell’s Children’s Hospital where the kids were able to get up close and really enjoy the color and sounds of all of these hot rods.
Friday is a full day between the “Crawl” and then onto the expo center for the official opening of the event. You have to like any event that opens its doors at 10 a.m. (Magazine guys appreciate late starts—just ask Kev Elliott of Rod & Custom!) There’s the usual collection of swap meets, cruising the grounds, a Cacklefest, lots of show-and-tell, lifestyle gatherings, and live music, but of particular excitement and interest were the mini-bike races. (Plenty of horsepower, loads of testosterone, and the residual effects of still thinking your body possesses the reflexes of a 20-year-old as well as the healing power! Great fun.) Also fun is Friday night and the live music along South Congress. Directly across from The Continental Club, an open spot (San Jose Hotel’s parking lot) was the headquarters for several bands to entertain throughout the evening. At one point there was the unmistakable guitar riff that I associate with surf music—ah, literally music to my ears. That led to the parking of my backside on a nearby wall all the while taking in the evening’s sights and sounds.