Toward the end of the 2004 summer mini-truck show season, Ashton Harwood, his family, and many members of SubCulture moved onto the Richmond International Raceway grounds to host the newest version of the East Coast Nationals. Throughout the past years, this event continued to grow steadily until it became one of the most-respected East Coast events held all year long.

The 2004 East Coast Nationals was a full-weekend event that started for the enthusiastic attendees who flocked to the show on Friday.

Friday was spent by most as a setup day for vendors as well as showgoers who got to the event early. The East Coast Nationals staff made it simple for those who wanted to get a jumpstart on their weekend by opening the gates bright and early at 8 a.m. on Friday. Throughout the day, the ECN staff registered enthusiasts, as well as the trucks they'd dragged in from all over the East Coast. Registration was closed for the day by 7 p.m., and an hour later, the place was a ghost town. It wouldn't be for long, though.

The gates opened an hour earlier on Saturday morning than they had the day before for good reason. A nice long lineup of custom enthusiasts were already waiting to get into the showgrounds and set up their trucks for display. Those who'd shown up the day before blasted right past the lineup and got on the showfield in no time flat. Even still, those who were in line were handled quickly and were able to pull onto the show area faster than we've seen at many of the shows.

Throughout the registration process, trucks were classed as they came into the showgrounds, and the judging sheets were distributed. At 1 p.m., the ECN judging team began prowling the grounds, looking for the trucks in their specific classes. Somehow, the judging went off without a hitch, and we don't think there was a single judge who didn't make it back to the stage in time to watch mini-truckers make fools of themselves during the club games. Much later in the evening, the ECN staff set up a killer draggin' contest for the ultra-low trucks in attendance, which put big old cheesy smiles on every mini-trucker's face as far as you could see. The bikini contest kicked of at 9 p.m., and about 30 minutes later, those bikinis became soaked T-shirts. The ECN staff managed to get everyone out of the showgrounds around 11 p.m., sending people toward their hotel rooms and promising to let them all come back on Sunday for more of the same fun.

The only difference between Saturday and Sunday, as far as the show went, was the fact that the Sunday entrants were all lumped together and judged against each other, regardless of what make or model their vehicle happened to be. The special Sunday Class was assembled, and judging for those latecomers started at 10 a.m. Before noon, a hydraulic hopping contest was held, pitting some of Virginia's best against each other for bragging rights as well as trophies. By noon, mini-truckers were comparing how low or how high their trucks were with each other. Those who had decided to stay for the awards presentation gathered in front of the stage around 2 p.m., and the trophy winners were announced class by class until nearly 300 trophies had been awarded. Once again, ECN came to a close, with the only major problems being the moronic local police officers who couldn't understand why friends would want to hang out around their hotels and talk amongst themselves past 10 p.m.

The East Coast Nationals staff would like to thank Area 51, as well as all the vendors that came out to show off and sell their wares. Their support made ECN 2004 as successful as ever. For information on everything exciting that's being planned and put into place for East Coast Nationals 2005, contact: Ashton Harwood, eastcoastnats@aol.com, (804) 966-2043; www.eastcoastnationals.com.