It seemed a bit odd that the Northwest was a one-horse town. It shouldn't be. Its tech and aerospace industries make it fairly wealthy. Its port activity and direct line to Southern California car culture gives it good style. And its mild weather and salt-free roads give it plenty of donor material. Easy access across the region, including the highly underserved Canadian market, gives promoters golden opportunity for gate-busting attendance

But for recent years the National Street Rod Association lacked a strong presence in the region. It hasn't maintained a solid Northwest following over recent years and according to a number of people we spoke to its attempts to reenter the market proved difficult.

So it was pretty understandable that the NSRA's bid to reestablish itself outside Vancouver, Washington, met a little bit of reservation. In fact, immediately prior to the event, NSRA's handlers probably started to second-guess themselves: as longtime residents joke, Northwest summers start on July 5 and the NSRA booked the Clark County venue for late June. The rain clouds lingering over the southern part of the state certainly had to give the organization pause. But as those same locals are also known to joke, you can't predict Northwest weather, a point proven by the transition from a deluge on Thursday to nearly unprecedented sunshine and 90-plus-degree temperatures for all three days of the event.

Sun certainly shone on the NSRA's coffers. If preregistration forecasts an event's success then the presence of four-digit vehicle numbers in the host hotel parking lot on Thursday had to spell relief. An informal survey among participants on Sunday suggests that the car count may have exceeded 1,400. Balanced against other, more established venues that may not sound impressive; however, that's no small feat for an inaugural event.

In fact, if these results are any indicator of future performance then this event may actually suffer growing pains. The fairground—while fairly diverse and offer a few really good zones, including one completely shadowed by trees—doesn't offer the vast car-accommodating expanses that some other venues boast. The hasty transformation of an auxiliary parking lot into a show area suggests that attendance exceeded NSRA's expectations. But these are champagne problems.

What stands is NSRA's respectable success in what amounts to a new market, a coupe that few organizations can pull off, regardless of size. If the fairground can accommodate it, there's great potential in the area if only because many central and coastal Oregonians can't justify driving the rest of the way up to the state. As for the Canadians, they'll drive pretty much anywhere, if only because of our cheap fuel and their endless enthusiasm. NSRA may just have a winner on its hands.

Though relatively isolated, the Pacific Northwest has a movement that gives at least Northern California's scene a run for its money. And as we all know that's a pretty competitive event market. By and large the feedback I heard about the show was positive, a real feat for a first-time event, and especially noteworthy given the inevitable shortcomings first-time events suffer. If this inaugural event is an indication of future results, the Pacific Northwest may no longer be the one-horse town it once was.