This year I made a point of stopping to talk to people. Not that I am anti-social, but when your personal goal is to photograph as many cars as possible you rarely get to stop walking, much less strike up a conversation. I was rewarded with some of the coolest, funniest, and downright strangest stories I've heard. There was the couple who decided to build a rat rod instead of going a honeymoon, or the guy who makes fully drivable pint sized replicas of cars by hand. I met more than a few people who had an easier time counting the years they had missed this show than the number they had attended. Some of these people have been coming to the Back To The 50s show so long that they remember when it was just 200 cars on a lot. That is a long way from the almost 12,000 vehicles that showed up this year. Let's just do the math real quick. The Minnesota State Fairground is roughly 360 acres, so we get an average of 33 vehicles per acre. I know some car shows where 33 cars attending would be a success. So you pretty much get 360 car shows in a single location. That is a mind blowing thought.
Attendees were rewarded with great weather on Friday, but Saturday the grey clouds rolled in from across the prairie. The overcast skies were a nice break from the hot sun but everyone knew that any time the rain could come pouring down. Our luck ran out early in the afternoon as fat rain drops pelted the fairground. People worked feverishly to cover up their cars and head for dry ground. I asked one T-bucket driver what his plan was if the rain didn't let up. He replied "to wait til it stops, and that might be a while." Smart man. I can't imagine trying to pilot a 2,500 lb. car with steam roller rear tires and pizza cutter front tires in the rain. I'm guessing it would be a constant dance between hydroplaning and understeer.
Sunday was another grey day but the rain held off. You could tell that everyone was on their last bit of energy. People were taking one last cruise around the fairground before heading home. The fairway merchants were slashing prices and making deals for those willing to haggle. The final act though is when everyone starts to leave. People line up lawn chairs up and down Snelling and Como avenues to see the parade of vehicles heading home. As the smell of rich exhaust and fried cheese curds dissipated it was safe to say that the Minnesota Street Rod Association put on yet another great show.
Make sure to check out the over 1,200 photos from the show in the galleries below:
Report: 2011 MSRA Back To the 50s Show
There was no raining on this parade.
Steel may be real, but this plastic is fantastic.
Gallery: Classy Rides
Understated looks and clean lines make these subtle attention getters.
Gallery: Everything Else
Check out our grab bag of cool cars.
Gallery: Engines: Part 1 Part 2
These powerplants were too cool to be hidden under a hood.
Gallery: Fantastic Flames
A time honored tradition in the rodding world.
Gallery: Farm Trucks
After a hard life on the farm these trucks are getting the retirement they deserve.
Gallery: Fat Fenders
These front ends demand to be noticed!
Weird, wacky and just cool is the only way to explain these rides.
Gallery: Old School Hot Rods; Part 1 Part 2
These rods are keeping true to their roots.
Gallery: Rat Rods
Love them or hate them, rat rods were on the prowl in Minnesota.
Gallery: Rat Trucks
It takes a special kind of truck to haul this much attitude.
Gallery: Shoeboxes: Part 1 Part 2
Chevrolets, Buicks, Oldsmobiles, Fords and more share this classic "shoebox" shape.
Gallery: Sixties Invasion: Part 1 Part 2 Part 3
This may be the "Back To The 50s" show but these 60s cars are welcomed with open arms.
There is no denying that the T-bucket is an icon of the hot rod world.
Gallery: Candy Kustoms
There is no ignoring the crazy colors on these kustoms.
What better way to see a car show...than from a car!
Gallery: Fabulous 40s and 50s
These post-war beauties helped define what an American car should be.
Gallery: Fine Fins
Tail fins from mild to wild were on display this year.
Gallery: Foreign Cars
Back To The 50s isn't just for American iron.
Gallery: Old School Hot Rod Trucks
These trucks haul in more ways than one.
A fine flock of Fords.
These family haulers are getting more and more popular.
Gallery: Street Rod Trucks
These trucks haul more good looks than they do cargo.
This year there was a bumper crop of great trucks.