Sometimes it's good to get back to your roots. A quarter century ago, Jerry and DeVona Titus launched the Kustom Kemps of America from their home in Wichita, Kansas, providing a much-needed kick-start for the revival of the custom car movement. The organization's first "nationals," dubbed the Leadsled Street Custom Spectacular, was held right there in Wichita in 1981. As it grew, the annual custom extravaganza went on the road, landing in alternating locales in Iowa, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, and Michigan with varying degrees of success. Lancaster, Ohio, was the show's home for the last few years.

As the Spectacular's silver anniversary approached in 2005, however, Jerry knew a change was needed. Not surprisingly, his instincts led him right back to where it all began: Kansas. Just down the road a spell from Wichita is the town of Salina, a burg that's location at the intersection of Interstates 35 and 70 makes it the nation's unofficial crossroads. Thomas Park, at the edge of town near I-70, had the space, shade trees, and laidback atmosphere Jerry was looking for to hold this quarter-century shindig, so the dates were set for July 29-31.

Just as any good anniversary party should, the Silver 'Sled Spectacular brought together many old friends and a smattering of new acquaintances to reminisce about the old days and ponder the years to come. While the KKOA has long been open to all manner of custom vehicles--traditional, high-tech, and even late-models--most regular members tend to belong to the old guard that holds wide whitewall tires, tuck 'n' roll upholstery, and rappin' glasspacks in high regard. This was reflected in the array of vehicles filling Thomas Park, and it made the event feel that much more like a trip back in time.

Perhaps most refreshing, though, was the realization that the "street custom" concept has not been lost on these guys through the years. Much like the early KKOA events, we saw very few trailers scattered around the event grounds and nearby hotel parking lots. These real-world customs were built to be driven, and most cruised to the show under their own power. That's not something you can say about a lot of big summer events.

On a personal note, this was more than just another event on last summer's calendar. The Leadsled Spectacular was an annual destination for my father and I during the 1980s and early '90s; it indoctrinated me in the madness that is customized '50s and '60s iron. This was my first time to a Spectacular in more than a decade, and it felt good to be back among the many familiar faces and cars from the Midwest. My father came along, too, making the trip that much more complete.

The Leadsled Spectacular may be smaller than it once was, but it is still uniquely focused on promoting uniquely American custom cars. Word has it the show will return to Salina next year. Maybe you should think about wandering over to the nation's crossroads and checking it out for yourself.