Due to the change in ownership of the previous year's venue, the Governors Crossing Theater, promoter Charlie Cobble had to start searching for a new place to hold his show. The previous year, more than 1,400 vehicles registered for the show, and it was going to be hard to top those numbers with yet another move. After weeks of searching, Charlie struck a deal with his show sponsor, Mike Myers of NOPI, and agreed to make the show a part of the Bristol stop on the NOPI drag racing series.
The Nats was billed as a three-day event, with the gates opening at 10 a.m. on Friday and the judging lanes opening at noon. Turnout the first day was kind of sparse, with less than 100 vehicles showing up. By the second day, however, those numbers grew exponentially, hitting upwards of 900 trucks.
In addition, there was great vendor turnout at the 2003 show. Godfather Customs was on hand with its big rig, along with American Products, who brought out several cars and trucks modified with its latest products. Xbox had a display where attendees could try out all of the latest games, and Street Glow kept a crowd around its booth throughout the weekend, thanks to a gorgeous blonde.
Activities for the day started out on the main stage with the first of three rounds of a bikini contest. A pack of hometown honeys went out on stage to strut their stuff for the large crowd. Next in the line of events was the burnout competition, which took place on the starting line of the dragstrip. All the vehicles that took part really put on a show for the spectators, and even burned a few tires all the way to the ground. Unfortunately, around 6 p.m. things came to a halt, thanks to a major rainstorm that blew in, but everyone took advantage of the situation and grabbed some dinner at the local eating establishments.
The second round of the bikini contest was slated to start about 7 p.m., but the rain was still pouring down. The girls were troopers, though, and got out on stage in spite of the rain, showing the crowd of more than 1,000 that they were serious about taking home the prize money. Things really were cranked up another notch with the ever-popular foam party, which has become a regular part of a NOPI event. Since there wasn't a strip to cruise on, such as in Pigeon Forge, everyone created their own entertainment with outlaw burnout contests.
After a long weekend of activities and truck showing, the show came to a close with the final round of the bikini contest and the presentation of the trophies. Even though the turnout of vehicles was down from the previous year, the event was a great success, with more than 25,000 spectators coming through the gates to check out the show. To make plans for the 2004 edition of the Southeast Mini Truckin' and Compact Car Nationals, give Charlie Cobble a call at (423) 623-4644 or (423) 623-1871, and for you folks who surf the Web, check out www.autoshows.com.