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Van Burnout at Nationals

The 45th Van Nationals kick off in Mansfield, Ohio!

We made the trip out to Mansfield, OH for the Van Nationals. This year was the 45th. I drove our van, ‘Nautique’, while my wife Wendy drove the RV with the dogs. Our daughter and her fiancé brought up the rear of our little caravan. We arrived early afternoon Sunday and were directed to our spot on vendors row and began to set up. There were at least 45-50 vans on the outside of the gate waiting get in on Monday.


We saw many of the regular vans that we have seen before at the Nationals and many new vans. Everyone was waiting on the arrival of Frank Costa’s #9: an early Chevy that he has been working on for many years and had just put the finishing touches on the week of the Nats and had to drive then to Ohio from Rhode Island. A heck of a road trip to break it in. He drove it around but we had to wait until Saturday for the van show for the true unveiling.

They had a slow drag which pitted van against van for who crossed the line last. They also had a burnout contest which was won by Michael Lapoint in his Destroyer muraled Dodge Van. Friday night brought the Bright and Shine contest. The technology used for the lights from low wattage usage to large amount of LED’s is impressive. So are the stereo systems in some of these vans. I can only dream of competing with them some day. But hopefully I will be able to.

Saturday was the big show. Wendy worked her magic with the display as always. Everyone who saw our display was amazed. The quality of the vans in the show were second to none. I went through and checked out every one of them so I could pick out the Cool Rides Online Sponsors Award winner which was no easy task. There were over 150 vans in the show so it took quite some time.

The awards presentation was at 7 pm and we won our class of Mid Dodge Street. I went up before the Best of Awards to present the Cool Rides Award. I chose a 1975 GMC that was a true survivor van. It was a barn find and had 37,800 original miles on it. The paint was amazing as was the original interior. The name of the van was Soooo 70’s. It was owned by Shannon McGilvra from Beaver Dam, WI. It was a well-deserved win and he was absolutely thrilled. The Flying Eagle trophy and cash award sponsored by Gold Eagle went to Frank Costa with his early Chevy. He also ended up winning Best of Show as well. Both well deserved. After the awards presentation, the Jake and Elwood and The Soul Men Band took the stage. These guys really put on a show.

Sunday came and we began the trek home. Fortunately, it was not a long trek as it was only a little over 350-mile trip. Next year’s Van Nats are in Rensselaer, IN at the Jasper County Fairgrounds. We will be making the trip there as well. Hoping to have a bigger Gold Eagle presence there since it is close to the home offices.

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