Looking for things to do this summer?

You can make the boring choice and do the same things you always do, or you can start checking off more things on your personal hot rodder’s bucket list.

There are more than 10 amazing car shows to be at this summer, including some in a nearby town. But if we can interest you in a road-trip adventure or five, we know just where to go.

The Summer 2017 Hot Rodder’s Bucket List

1. NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series (Now-November 12) Throughout U.S.

clay millican's top fuel dragster at 2022 nhra four wide nationals
(Image/Auto Imagery)

It’s impossible to accurately describe with words to someone who has never experienced an NHRA race what happens when you’re watching two nitro Top Fuel dragsters or Funny Cars roar down the track in under four seconds.

The noise is ear-drum shaking. The speeds seem impossible. But it’s the feeling that stays with you. The earth quakes. Your body rattles.

Then the whole world changes because you just saw something that doesn’t make sense. And when you see the pit crew go absolutely insane celebrating their driver’s final-round win light to add a new Wally to their trophy collection, you get a true sense of what racing is all about.

One of the things that sets NHRA events apart is the incredible access fans get to the pits and drivers. If you’ve been to a race, you get it. If you haven’t, now is a good time to change that.

2. Goodguys (Now-November 19) Throughout U.S.

Goodguys PPG Nationals Columbus
(Image/OnAllCylinders – David Fuller)

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 longtime hot rodder, you already know all about it and have probably been to several shows. And if you’re new to this hobby, this is us gently nudging you toward awesomeness. You’ll thank us later.

3. 24 Hours of LeMons (Now-December 10) Throughout U.S.

In their own words, 24 Hours of LeMons consists of: “Bad drivers. Terrible cars. Racing at its best.”

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 “foolishly presented” by Roadkill and by all accounts is ridiculously fun and designed to be accessible to people of all budgets.

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

4. Super Summit, (June 10-11) Norwalk, OH

super summit image
(Image/OnAllCylinders Staff)

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

Super Summit is a totally free two-day customer-appreciation event at Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, OH which, in addition to a large cruise-in, features free fun runs down what is arguably the best dragstrip in North America, as well as free autocross, including instruction from the driving pros at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

You’ll see a ton of great cars, find parts manufacturers showing off their products and available to ask tech questions, hear great music, eat good food, and maybe even something we haven’t thought of yet.

We’ll be there. You should be, too.

5. The Hot Rod Power Tour (June 10-17) South and Southeast U.S.

shelby cobra coupe from hot rod power tour
(Image/OnAllCylinders – Will Schertz)

The 2017 Hot Rod Power Tour begins June 10 in Kansas City and wraps up in Bowling Green, KY six days later.

Cities on the Hot Rod Power Tour:

Saturday, June 10 – Kansas City, MO

Sunday, June 11 – Newton, IA

Monday, June 12 – Davenport, IA

Tuesday, June 13 – Champaign, IL

Wednesday, June 14 – Madison, IL

Thursday, June 15 – Indianapolis, IN

Friday, June 16 – Bowling Green, KY

The Power Tour, if you don’t know, is a bunch of awesome people driving a bunch of awesome cars on a multi-city tour of some predetermined section of the United States. This year, they’ll be touring America’s heartland, attending massive cruise-ins, meeting fellow hobbyists and having an all-around killer time.

6. “Back to the 50’s,” (June 23-25) St. Paul, MN

a tri five pontiac chieftain sedan

Spend a fun weekend with more than 100,000 of the friendliest people on the planet, celebrating our hobby, and checking out all of the amazing show cars. People love this show, and it’s easy to see why.

This show is celebrating its 44th 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.

7. Syracuse Nationals (July 14-16) 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.

You’re going to want to be there.

8. Car Craft Summer Nationals (July 21-23) Bowling Green, KY

The Car Craft Summer Nationals will take place in Bowling Green, KY this year. Not only that, but the event, which features more than 5,000 amazing vehicles will take place at historic Beech Bend Raceway Park, which has a little magic in it.

It’s the kind of thing you see and feel once you’re standing there. You’ll see.

9. Hot August Nights (August 4-5) Virginia City, NV (August 8-13) Reno, NV

hot rods cruising main strip in reno nevada, at hot august nights 2018

Hot. August. Nights.

This event spans several days, starting in historic Virginia City and wrapping up in Reno.

Hot August Nights is a massive gathering of hot rodders and fun seekers from all over, and it’s truly a must-see. Especially if you’re from the Midwest or East Coast, and don’t get out West very often. Virginia City was plucked right out of one of your favorite western stories, and Reno is a fun, vibrant place full of some of the finest hot rods on the planet during Hot August Nights.

As an added bonus, you can sneak up to Lake Tahoe in about 30 minutes. And you totally should.

10. Woodward Dream Cruise (August 19) 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.

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.