It's fair to say Kansas has been good for the Kustom Kemps of America. The organization was formed in Wichita, and that's where its first national event-the Leadsled Street Custom Spectacular-was held more than a quarter-century ago. And while the Leadsled Spectacular would have many homes in many states for the following two decades, the event experienced a significant rebound in 2005 when it returned to Kansas, this time to the city of Salina.

The Spectacular came back to Salina in 2006, and even with 100-plus-degree temperatures on the weekend of July 28-30, there was an increase in participants. Salina is smack dab in the middle of the country, yet despite $3-per-gallon gas, there were cars from as far away as New York and California. Then again, with the exception of California, where else could you find such a variety of famous customizers in one place? Where else will Gene Winfield, Darryl Starbird, Bill Hines, and George Barris be together at one time? Not only were they there, they were accessible. Any of them were more than willing to sit down and discuss ideas you had for your own custom. Speaking of customs, there were several new cars in the park last summer. Gary "Chopit" Fioto from Florida was there with not one, but two fabulous customs: his radical bubbletop '55 Ford, plus a chopped and slammed '53 Chevy with brilliant gold paint drawing oohs and aahs from the crowd. Another golden chariot-Kevin Anderson's '63 Riviera-earned its share of attention too, not to mention the New Concept Custom Champion award. And Ed Potestio brought his Colorado buddies to Salina to collect the Most Spectacular Leadsled award with his awesome '50 Merc hardtop (featured elsewhere in this issue).

While traditional customs were the Spectacular's main focus, there was also a good turnout of traditional hot rods. One of the most interesting was Bud and Juanita Susank's original B/R '28 Ford roadster, which raced more than five decades ago at the first NHRA Hot Rod Nationals in Great Bend, Kansas. The Flathead-powered roadster even made a couple of passes at the Friday night drags. Yes, you heard right-Friday night drags. More than a hundred participants showed up for "run what you brung" drag races at the Salina Airport. Where else can you see real '50s customs smoking their tires running a quarter-mile?

Like we said, Salina has been good for the KKOA, and the event will return there July 27-29, 2007. So if you haven't been for a while, or thought it was too far to drive, plan on coming next July, and bring that buddy who's never been to a KKOA Leadsled Spectacular. It's sure to be a hot time in Salina.