Street Rodders Gather For The 4th Annual THUNDER ROD RUN

The echoes of the late night runs of moonshiners through the mountains of East Tennessee was part of the homage to the heritage of our region during the weekend of September 27-28, 2013 as the Vintage Street Rodders of America held their fourth  annual “Thunder Road Rod Run” at the Appalachian Fairgrounds in Gray, Tennessee.

Dozens and dozens of 1948 and older street rods once again gathered under the banner of the Vintage Street Rodders of America (VSRA) for camaraderie and fellowship. They were there to show off the craftsmanship and engineering that goes into taking a car that is at least 65 years old or older and making it fully capable of driving tens of thousands of miles per year, in modern day traffic, traveling to events all over the United States. 

Founded a little over four and a half years ago by East Tennessee residents Jim and Debbie Bledsoe, VSRA is not about those show cars that travel in the safe confines of a trailer.  Awards at VSRA shows are only given out to those cars that are DRIVEN to the event!  Last year’s run drew cars from up and down the East Coast including some from as far away as Michigan, Maryland and Florida.  

On Thursday night, the members were treated to a camp fire event at Jim and Debbie’s house.  The fixins for s’mores were provided to anyone who wanted to make one.   They were also able to check out the progress on Jim’s one ton 34 Dodge Brothers  Panel Truck which will be the Official VSRA Vehicle.

Friday morning the participants began to gather at the fairgrounds. In addition to the reuniting of old friendships, making new ones, and checking out all the great looking cars, there were vendors, games, a swap meet, seminars, food, a DJ, door prizes, dash plaques, and 25 plaques for theVSRA Picks!

On Friday night the participants were treated to a Barbecue Dinner at East Tennessee Distillery.  There was also live music by Homemade Wine and a tour of the Distillery by Master Distiller Tiny Roberson.  There was also samples of the Tennessee Mellowmoon for anyone man enough to try it!!!!  

Ron Goben, from Mt. Washington, KY, is the VSRA Kentucky State Rep, and as he does every year, held seminars on Friday and Saturday that were a big hit with members.  Ron’s seminars covered brakes and cooling systems and several members reported that Ron had solved some of their problems.  

A regular feature of all VSRA rod runs is the member’s meeting conducted by Jim Bledsoe. This is the chance for members to get caught up on the latest news and progress of the VSRA.  At the meeting a vote was put to the members to move the show to East Tennessee Distillery.  The vote was unanimous to move the show to the Distillery.

After the meeting, the 25 VSRA Picks were driven inside the Farm and Home building where all the participants and spectators could get a good, up close look at all of them.    

There were two very special awards that were handed out at the Thunder Road Show.   One is the Street Rodder of the Year Award and the other is the Pioneer Award.  The Street Rodder of the Year Award is given to the member who is very active in the street rodding hobby and the Pioneer Award is given to the member who has been a street rodder for many years and does most of the work on his rods. But more than that, this person is more than happy to help out his fellow street rod friends.  

Keith Batman, of St. Albans, WV, was the recipient of the Street Rodder of the Year Award this year.  Keith is definitely a True Street Rodder.  He has been to most of our shows and the last two Rod Tours.  He has a wealth of knowledge about these old cars and is always there to lend a helping hand to anyone having problems.

Ron Goben, of Mt. Washington, Ky., was the recipient of the Pioneer Award.  Ron has been building street rods since he was 18 years old and has a passion for his work.  Ron writes “ Ron’s Corner” in our monthly newsletter in which he touches on some building aspects that street rodders contend with.  He also does street rod building seminars at our shows.  Ron is very deserving of this award. 

Bob Livingston’s beautiful black 34 Ford was picked to be our 2014 Featured Car.  Bob is from Watauga, Tn.  This car will be featured on all of our flyers, plaques and T-shirts for our Fifth Annual Thunder Road Rod Run. 

This year’s Thunder Road Rod Run will be held at East Tennessee Distillery in Piney Flats, Tn. on Sept. 26th and 27th.  For more information about this event or VSRA, call Jim Bledsoe at 423-571-6430 or email or visit them on the web at:  

Hope to see you there.

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