Goodguys Pacific Northwest Nationals this weekend in Puyallup, Kent

Car enthusiasts from all over the country are racing to the Puyallup Fairgrounds & Events Center this weekend for the Goodguys 23rd Pacific Northwest Nationals Hot Rod show.

The three-day car show is one of 23 stops on the Goodguys’ summer tour. The Pacific Northwest Nationals show, which debuted in 1987, is the second-oldest Goodguys event.

Melanie Rushforth and her husband, Jason, a Tacoma native, are attending the show in their 1964 Buick Skylark, which they bought last year. Rushforth said her husband is a hot-rod designer, and her relationship with him is what sparked her interest in cars.

The pair started Rushforth Wheels in 2007; they operate the business out of their home in Tacoma’s North End. While it is common for wheels to be made in other countries, Rushforth said their wheels are manufactured in Costa Mesa, Calif.

“There are plenty of wheels around,” Rushforth said, “But we have chosen to maintain our tie and love for the United States by having (our wheels) made here.

“Being a girl, I tend to compare it to fashion,” Rushforth said of the difference in quality in American-made goods. “A $20 pair of jeans is going to fit like a $20 pair of jeans.”

Several cars featuring Rushforth Wheels are expected to be at this weekend’s show. Rushforth said she is looking forward to seeing new cars and old friends.

John Drummond, communications director for Goodguys Rod & Custom Association, said the hot-rod culture in the Northwest is a summer activity.

“People will not bring their cars out if it is raining,” Rushforth said.

However, he said the culture seems to be amplified because of its compressed season. “Northwest hot-rodding has such good energy,” Drummond said.

Drummond said the weather contributes to the popularity of certain styles of classic cars in this region. He said coupes and sedans from the 1950s and ’60s – similar to the Rushforth’s Buick – are very popular.

Show attendees will have the opportunity to see more than 2,500 hot rods, as well as vendors, manufacturers and live entertainment.

Other attractions? Drag races at Pacific Raceways in Kent, a swap meet for used car parts and lots of people watching.

Unique to this year’s show are the Builder’s Choice awards, the top 10 awards of the show.

Rushforth said several cars with Rushforth Wheels are nominated for the “Street Machine of the Year” award; nominees for this award must participate in autocross – and, of course, look cool.

“It’s kind of a car beauty contest,” Rushforth said.

This year’s Brush Bash will feature 60 pinstripe artists, more than any show in the past, Drummond said. The artists will be in the ShowPlex building doing custom art on garbage cans, toilet seats, cell phones, fenders and other items.

Rushforth said the Puyallup show is surprisingly big. “It’s quite the visual spectacle,” Drummond said.