The Heartland of America is famous for many things, among them agriculture, friendly small towns, and the center of the country’s rail travel. But what some may not associate with the Midwest is a booming automotive scene, especially when it comes to the slammed classic and custom genres. However, if you’ve ever attended the Goodguys Heartland Nationals in Des Moines, Iowa like we did over the Fourth of July holiday, then you know full well that the American Heartland is home to some of the nicest rides that this country has to offer.


Photos & Words: Lindsey Fisher

Most people think of farm trucks and rust-buckets when they think of cars from the Midwest. After all, we are dealing with major farm country and even more humidity. But when you pool together classic cars and hot rods from South Dakota all the way through Indiana and Ohio, you come up with some of the best custom car examples you can find in the States. That’s exactly what we found when we attended the 24th Goodguys Heartland Nationals this year, on the hunt for killer classics.


From slammed trucks to laid out muscle machines, the Heartland Nationals didn’t disappoint, but how could it with custom shops like Lakeside Rods & Rides, Pinkee’s, and Dave’s Hot Rods (DHR) all on hand showing off their latest and greatest creations. Of course, there were also a number of “home builders” that brought out their best, showing that anyone with a little bit of patience and a whole lot of talent can create a rolling piece of artwork for the masses to enjoy.

Speaking of thousands, the Heartland Nationals brought in a record-breaking 4,600 classic cars and trucks this year, lined up along the famous Grand Avenue of the fairgrounds, as well as just about every other paved surface (and grassy areas) the facility had to offer. With so many vehicles constantly coming and going as event participants cruised the historic grounds, it was definitely hard to take them all in.


Among the thousands of privately owned show vehicles were dozens of participants gunning for some of the big awards the Heartland Nationals had to offer, including the Rocket Racing Wheels Muscle Car of the Year Finalist, Street Rod Headquarters Truck of the Year Early Finalist, LMC Trucks Parts & Accessories Truck of the Year Late Finalist, Builder’s Choice awards (chosen by Roger Burman of Lakeside Rods & Rides) and the PPG Dream Car award. Among the contenders were a number of slammed beauties, a handful of which went on to win one of the 70+ awards given out at the event.


As if taking in the countless show cars and trucks at the event wasn’t enough to keep showgoers occupied for days, the Heartland Nationals also offered its standard fare of AutoCross competition, vendor and manufacturers’ exhibits, Goodgals Arts & Crafts Gallery, Model & Pedal Car Show, and the Swap Meet/Classic Cars 4 Sale Corral areas with fun for the whole family. That’s one of the great things about a Goodguys Extravaganza is all of the fun things for the family, making a great weekend getaway.

The Goodguys Heartland Nationals is certainly a sight to see, whether you’re a classic hot rod lover or more of a custom connoisseur. Be sure to mark it down on your calendars as a must hit for next year and stay tuned for more exclusive event coverage right here at Slam’d Mag!

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