Modern Rodding STARTING OVER
A headshot picture of Brian Brennan grinning
By Brian Brennan

hen you have attended as many national events as I have you notice certain things. One such observation is the enduring devotion that the Michigan Hot Rod Association (MHRA) has to its Rod Repair Shop (RRS) and the events that they offer their services to.

I just came back from the 53rd NSRA Nats and as sure as the sun rises in the East there was the MHRA RRS in their all-familiar location ready and willing to help out-of-town rodders with their woes. This was the 50th year the RRS has been onsite to help rodders. They are only outdone in years of attendance by the Memphis Street Rods (registration), which is in the 52nd year and on par with the Early Times Custom Car Club from Mentor, Ohio (registration), also in its 50th year.

It was 1972 when the RRS first appeared at an NSRA event–the 3rd annual Nats held in Detroit. In the first years the RRS was an area to clean off your car after a long out-of-town drive and to supply an assortment of equipment and tools to make repairs–at no cost! It was a critical factor back then, as it is today, to get the hot rod back on the road so the owner could make the reverse trek home. More so then, as it was more common for the cars to be fully homebuilt. So, the owner/driver would jump and get to work. Nowadays the cars are still being driven and things still break and the RRS staff is ready and willing to help where they can. I can’t tell you how many wheel bearings I have seen changed, how many electrical woes chased down, and water pumps changed.

One of my favorite stories was the year a young rodder arrived with a motor that had seen its last best day. Well, he limped into the RRS and it wasn’t long before the diagnosis was made: throw the engine in the neighboring trash can and begin anew. The young rodder went inside and bought a small-block Chevy from one of the exhibitors and rolled it outside and began swapping the old for new. It was fun watching a handful of the RRS staff and the young rodder tearing into the project. Oh Lord, there were nuts and bolts, belts, and mounts flying in every direction. Yet come the end of the day (maybe into the next morning) the project was complete and the hot rod was running. What a story to tell about your first drive to the Nats. A great story for years to come, for sure.

In the early days the NSRA Nats moved from city to city each summer and so did the RRS. The MHRA built a trailer called the Rod Repair Shop, towed and operated by volunteers who attended these out-of-town events. The club covered all its costs.

As demand increased so did the contents of the trailer. Back in the day the club used a 3,000-pound trailer that was replaced in 1989 with a newly designed 9,000-pound trailer. The rig has covered the U.S. over these past 50 years. Presently, the RRS rig and crew go out of town five times each summer to the NSRA events in Knoxville, Tennessee; York, Pennsylvania; Louisville, Kentucky; Kalamazoo, Michigan; and to the Minnesota Street Rod Association’s (MSRA) Back to the Fifties in St. Paul, Minnesota. A little quick math tells us that the rig and crew cover 5,000 miles each summer.

Nowadays the operating expenses are offset by donations from sponsors, rodders, and the various associations that are serviced by RRS. The equipment, trailer, and tow truck are supplied by the MHRA and there are also other clubs and associations that help in several ways.

A very sincere “thank you” to the Michigan Hot Rod Association and the Rod Repair Shop staff for helping rodders from across the country for the past 50 years. Here’s hoping they can continue to help with the aid from their many sponsors to help rodders for another 50 years.

Modern Rodding
VOLUME 3 • ISSUE 25 • 2022