As we continue to flip the calendar and as temperatures continue to rise, the sights and sounds of summer will continue to increase in frequency.

That’s a good thing, especially for hot rodders and automotive enthusiasts.

We’ve assembled a list of events we consider to be among the top auto-oriented gatherings scheduled throughout the United States this summer.

Geography, time, money, and life in general are likely to prevent you from attending all of them. But hitting up one or more of these can’t possibly be a bad idea.

Mark your calendars, ladies and gentlemen.

The Summer 2013 Hot Rodder’s Bucket List

(Editor’s note: Cruisin’ Ocean City starts today, and it’s absolutely worthy of being on this list. If getting to Maryland isn’t on your to-do list this weekend, now’s the time to mark your calendar for this great four-day event in 2014.)

24 Hours of LeMons (Now-December 8) Throughout U.S.

“Bad drivers. Terrible cars. Racing at its best.”

Their words, not ours. In fact, their writing is so outstanding, let’s share a little more. What is 24 Hours of LeMons?

“It’s endurance racing for $500 cars. It’s not just an oxymoron; it’s a breeding ground for morons.”

This racing series is “inexplicably presented” by Car and Driver and by all accounts, is a truckload of awesome and fun.

“It’s not just for rich idiots. It’s for all idiots.”

Oh, how we love your wit and charm, 24 Hours of LeMons. 

NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series (Now-November 10) Throughout U.S.

Vast stables of horsepower? Three-second passes? Brittany Force? What’s not to like?

NHRA gives you incredible access to the pits and drivers. You’ll see plenty of intense racing and plenty of incredible cars—both on and off the track. If you’ve already been, you know we’re right. If you’ve never been, it’s probably time to remedy that.

Goodguys (Now-November 24) Throughout U.S.

Goodguys Rod & Custom Association has played host to many of the country’s most-popular car shows since 1983. Goodguys events are typically two- or three-day events which attract between 30,000-100,000, depending on size and location.

If you’re a hot rodder, you already know all about it. And if you’re new to this game, you need to know about it.

The Hot Rod Power Tour (June 1-7) South and Southeast U.S.

The 2013 Hot Rod Power Tour begins June 1 in Texas and wraps up in Charlotte, NC six days later.

Cities on the tour:

Saturday, June 1 – Arlington, TX

Sunday, June 2 – Texarkana, AR

Monday, June 3 – Little Rock, AR

Tuesday, June 4 – Memphis, TN

Wednesday, June 5 – Birmingham, AL

Thursday, June 6 – Chattanooga, TN

Friday, June 7 – Charlotte, NC

Let’s see if we’re understanding this correctly. You just drive around in your awesome car with a bunch of other people in their awesome cars, driving from city to city, meeting new people, participating in cruise-ins and having a great time?

We’re so in.*

*Just as soon as we acquire worthy automobiles, that is.

“Back to the 50’s,” (June 21-23) St. Paul, MN

What could be better than spending a fun weekend with more than 100,000 of the friendliest people on the planet, celebrating our hobby, and checking out more than 11,000 amazing show cars?

Exactly. Nothing.

This show is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, and the folks at the Minnesota Street Rod Association have proven time and time again that they know how to show everybody a good time.

Super Summit, (June 21-22) Tallmadge, OH

super summit

It may lack the size and notoriety of some of these other events, but Summit Racing’s Super Summit should be on everyone’s list within reasonable driving distance.

Summit Racing Equipment is celebrating its 45th anniversary this year, and has combined its annual TruckFest show with Super Summit to form one, goliath, co-located event.

Be there.

Syracuse Nationals (July 19-21) Syracuse, NY

Gearing up for just its 14th anniversary, the Syracuse Nationals is already the largest car show in the Northeast U.S. and continues to get bigger every year. The show focuses exclusively on classics and is only open to vehicles built prior to 1980.

Add it to the list, ladies and gentlemen.

Car Craft Summer Nationals (July 19-21) St. Paul, MN

What?!, you say. St. Paul has TWO must-see events?

Um, yeah. They do. The Summer Nationals features more than 5,400 street machines and muscle cars, and attracts more than 32,000 visitors.

In related news, we’re thinking about moving to the Twin Cities.

hot august nights crowd on reno Nevada's main street

Hot August Nights (August 2-3) South Lake Tahoe, CA (August 6-11) Reno, NV

Hot. August. Nights.

This event spans several days, starting in gorgeous Lake Tahoe and wrapping up in Reno.

It’s an absolutely massive gathering of hot rodders and fun seekers from all over. And that’s a combination that’s worth checking out.

An extra bonus this year is that Barrett-Jackson has joined the proceedings, partnering with Hot August Nights to bring perhaps the world’s most-popular car auction to Reno on August 8-10. Moreover, the gang at Barrett-Jackson is introducing the inaugural Barrett-Jackson Cup™—a show-and-shine competition with a $40,000 prize purse. Whoever wins Best in Show will take home $20,000—which is twice what this year’s Ridler Award winner got.

Hot August Nights is not to be missed.

Woodward Dream Cruise (August 17) Detroit, MI

Organizers call it “the world’s largest, most-unique, one-day free show” in the hot-rodding universe.

Hard to argue. The Woodward Dream Cruise draws 1.5 million people and about 40,000 classic cars to the Motor City—the automotive motherland.

Detroit—not unlike Cleveland—gets picked on way more than it deserves. But not by hardcore car enthusiasts.

And not by us.

You should go. We’re serious.

Other events you’d be wise to attend, include:

The Street Rod Nationals, Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, Holley LS Fest, Camaro5 Fest

Author: Matt Griswold

After a 10-year newspaper journalism career, Matt Griswold spent another decade writing about the automotive aftermarket and motorsports. He was part of the original OnAllCylinders editorial team when it launched in 2012.