(Words and Photos by Jim Hrody) If you’re a proper gearhead, you’re aware of the Street Machine Nationals which have been around for decades. The namesake show has had locations far and wide, but now stays planted in the Midwest. Once connected to Car Craft Magazine, the event carries on solo these days and while the DuQuoin, Illinois show is the most famous, Saint Paul, Minnesota’s show is easily three or four times the size. Just read the license plates— Illinois, Iowa, Manitoba, Minnesota, Missouri, Ontario, South Dakota, Wisconsin and beyond.
The count of registered vehicles has reached 7000-plus cars and trucks in years past, and the 2023 event seemed to be close to that number, if not greater. The show is mainly a muscle car, street machine, and pro street affair, though a few front-wheel drives and 4x4s find their way in too. Other notables include an autocross course, a dyno area, a burnout contest, and a huge vendor row.
The host location, Minnesota State Fair, is one of the best-looking fairgrounds in the country. Inside there’s a city-like grid system of paved streets under a canopy of trees. There are also plenty of old buildings to look at, some of the Art Deco style, and some of which were open with the air conditioning flowing. The Minnesota State DNR even has a small nature park on one end of the complex.
Cars and trucks get parked anywhere there’s space, whether on the streets or anywhere else there’s blacktop, concrete, dirt, grass, or gravel. Anyone or anything in motion automatically becomes part of the cruise route which is wrapped around the entire show area. This is one event that is a must-attend if you like to see non-stop action at your car shows.