Florida’s Bad Ass Rat Rods take the International RATical Rod 2019 crown

November 12, 2019

Wendy Parker


LAS VEGAS – This is one instance in which the headline starting with “Florida man …” isn’t followed by something weird. On the contrary. This Florida man and his dedicated team accomplished one of the most coveted wins in the rat rod scene by being named winners of the 2019 International RATical Rod Build-off/Drive-off.

This is no ordinary car show, nor is the journey an easy one. Since the first competition in 2016, the builds have gotten more and more incredible. This year’s teams represented countries as far away as New Zealand.

The rat rod rules require entrants to drive their final build from Lincoln, Neb., to Las Vegas. No trailer-queens here, folks. It’s make it or break it, and even if it does break there’s no shortage of helping hands and willing wrenchers to make sure as many rat rods finish the trip as possible.

The build-off officially begins Jan. 1 with creations due in Lincoln by the last week of October for the final push to Las Vegas and the Specialty Equipment Market Association show.

Photo by Jellikat Photography
International RATical Rod Build-off/Drive-off capped their 2019 season in Las Vegas at SEMA, the premier automotive specialty trade show in the world. (Photo by Jellikat Photography.)

This year’s drive was a grueling 1,400 miles through unseasonably cold and snowy weather in Nebraska, Kansas Oklahoma and New Mexico. Ice and poor road conditions are bad enough for regular vehicles, but some of these builds weren’t equipped with heat – or any creature comforts, for that matter. Nevertheless, every team that began the journey made it to the finish line, making judging even more difficult.

In the end, the journey is a true bonding experience for these teams, no matter who wins. Rat rods enthusiasts tend to pass the bug on to their offspring – more than half the builds represented this year contained either father-son or father-daughter collaborations.

Sean Puz and the Bad Ass Rat Rod team out of central Florida won the rights to call themselves world class rat rod builders this year with Il Capo, which began life as a 1936 four-door Packard sedan. After a year of magic in the making, though, suffice it to say this ain’t your grandpa’s Packard anymore.

Check it out.

Congratulations to Bad Ass Rat Rods and to all of the participants in this year’s build-off/drive/off. Looking forward to next year.

Wendy Parker

Wendy Parker has covered the trucking industry since 2012 after she says she “lost my mind and decided to climb inside my husband’s big truck to travel with him as an over-the road, long-haul trucker.” Her unique writing style that ranges from biting satire to investigative journalism coupled with her unbridled passion for fighting round out a wildly talented stable of writers.