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Hundreds gather as Street Machine Nationals return to Du Quoin
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Hundreds gather as Street Machine Nationals return to Du Quoin

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DU QUOIN — There’s no place like home.

That's the feeling hundreds of automotive enthusiasts had as they gathered for the Continental Tire Street Machine Nationals this weekend at the Du Quoin State Fairgrounds, the event's home turf.

The COVID-19 pandemic curbed the annual celebration of horsepower in 2020, leaving fans waiting in anticipation for this year’s event.

“The last year was definitely a challenging one, but everyone worked hard and persevered and now we are back to doing shows,” said Tony Veneziano, public relations and communications manager for Bonnier Events. “It’s great to be back doing what we do and being able to bring a smile to people’s faces and entertain them.”

Several makes, models and years of street machines, street rods, cars, trucks, sport utility vehicles and custom rides filled the venue. The senses were ignited by the sight of gleaming paint, the roar of V8 engines and the smell of spent race fuel.

Tom and Glenda Grayson cruised in their blue and white 1955 Chevy from Frohna, Missouri to Du Quoin for the weekend event.

“We have been married for 51 years and have always had a 55 Chevy,” said Tom Grayson. “I won’t get rid of this one. My granddaughter has already claimed it,” he added with a smile.

The Graysons have been attending the Street Machine Nationals for years. They said they always enjoy the event and love seeing all the older cars gathered in one place.

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Participants can show off the true performance of their ride in the Continental Tire Burnout Contest at 10:30 a.m. Sunday, as well as the Dyno Challenge at any time during the event. The Performance Marketplace featured industry-leading brands with the latest parts, products and services on hand. For those looking for hard-to-find parts and custom pieces, the Egyptian Antique Auto Club is hosting a swap meet.

“Obviously, folks have been cooped up for the last year and everyone just wants to get out and do something,” said Veneziano. “Folks can’t wait to show their cars off after having them in the garage for the last year-plus.

“The updated guidelines from the CDC and Perry County Health Department are in effect for fully vaccinated people no longer needing to wear a mask or physically distance in any setting, but we still strongly encourage everyone to wear masks to keep people safe,” said Veneziano.

The Street Machine Nationals debuted in 1977 at Indianapolis. In 1986, the event took place in Du Quoin for the first time, where it continued to grow and gain popularity. The show remained at the Du Quoin State Fairgrounds for 13 consecutive years until 1998.

Then, in 2013, it made a much anticipated return to Southern Illinois and has once again become a summertime staple and a boost to the local economy. The "Nats," as it is widely known, is one of the most popular Pro Street car shows in the country.

“A lot of folks plan their vacations around the Du Quoin Street Machine Nationals and see folks from across the country that they only get to see once a year at the event,” said Veneziano.

The show continues from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. Numerous professionally judged awards will be handed out in a variety of categories as the event comes to a close.

For more information on the Street Machine Nationals or to purchase tickets, visit www.streetmachinenationals.net.

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