Rantoul hosting vintage street rod event
RANTOUL – For years, street rods have been known as modified pre-1949 vehicles.
The newly formed American Street Rod Association wants to keep it that way and will hold its first national Vintage Weekend this month in Rantoul.
Activities ranging from a downtown cruise and dance to vehicle displays, swap meet and air show are on tap for the four-day event set to run Sept. 23-26 at Rantoul National Aviation Center.
Steve Hancock of Paxton, an ASRA board member and Vintage Weekend coordinator, said the association intends to make the event an annual one in Rantoul.
"We expect between 500 and 750 cars" to be exhibited, Hancock said. More than 100 people have volunteered to help. The organization has met weekly since it decided about three months ago to hold the event.
Mayor Neal Williams was among those attending an organizational meeting for the show Thursday.
"I've always been a car enthusiast," he said. "I think this is a very well-managed group that can make this thing grow year by year."
Williams said he sees the show as a good fit for the community "and will offer a number of opportunities for people to get out and see a good show."
Hancock said most of the street rods are highly modified vehicles, with all the features and more of modern-day vehicles.
"They're high-end dollar vehicles," Hancock said.
For years, Hancock and other organizers involved in the new group have been active in the National Street Rod Association. But a decision last year to allow newer cars – up to 1980 – to be classified as street rods drew unrest in the ranks.
The American Street Rod Association was reborn.
Hancock said the national group had considered for several years allowing newer vehicles to be considered street rods. But many believed the change wouldn't be so radical.
"I think many were feeling like maybe (they'd) move it up 10 years or so" – to classify 1959 and older cars as street rods. "Last year they decided on a 30-year rule," Hancock said. "Virtually any vehicle that's 30 years or older can be in an event."
Hancock said many in the association felt the move was primarily designed to improve the association's bottom line. Those who broke off and formed the American Street Rod Association – actually they resurrected the name after an earlier group went out of existence in the '70s – consider themselves street rod purists.
Hancock said the association is not trying to cast stones at the other national group. "We are here to preserve the street rod hobby as it's been in existence since 1970," he said.
On Sept. 23, the first day of the Rantoul show, people visiting downtown will be transported back to a golden age as a downtown cruise is held.
Association members will also tour Taylor Studios and have a dance at T&T Tavern featuring the band Back Paiges.
The vintage weekend gets rolling at the airport on Sept. 24.
The event opens at 8 a.m.
Activities will range from vendors and displays to a make-and-take workshop for children to build small model street rods that they can take home.
Members of the association will also visit Hardy's Reindeer Ranch for a dinner show.
The band The GTOs will provide musical entertainment on the grounds of the aviation center from 6 to 10 p.m.
Many of the same events will take place Sept. 25, in addition to seminars and the Dacy Air Show from 1:30 to 3 p.m.
Ryan Ideus and the Feudin' Hillbillys will perform at 7 p.m.
Sept. 26 will include a worship service, and events will wind down at mid-afternoon.
Persons who want to join the American Street Road Association or help at this year's event may contact Hancock at 379-6024 or 304-0820. The group's website is http://www.americanstreetrodassociation.com.