One of the many fascinating things about the Grand National Roadster Show is that there are a number of buildings to visit and each is dedicated to a distinct style of car, be it hot rods, customs, lowriders, or muscle. Additionally, each year the promoters work tirelessly to assemble a truly unique collection of historical cars destined to follow a specific theme.
The Warth-Hilborn streamliner recreation, owned by Bill Lattin, was one of the most gracef
This year their efforts were dedicated to the History of the Race Car. It'd only seem fitting that the extensive grouping encompass almost every facet of racing dating back to the dawn of speed. With SoCal being a hotbed of engineering and creativity for racing over the years, there was no shortage of breathtaking examples exhibited, many with plenty of information accounting for their place in history.
To chronicle dry lakes and Bonneville competition many of the most memorable cars were displayed, including the Warth-Hilborn streamliner recreation, the SO-CAL Speed Shop belly tank, the Pierson Brothers' '34 coupe, and the Navarro 1927 Ford T roadster. While many of the cars have been treated to extensive restorations, there were others that wore their patina. The King and Hansen belly tank was untouched since it last raced, and the recently unearthed (after 60 years) Meteor built by Alfred Churchill and later owned by George Nakamura was proudly displayed by his son, Walter.
Shifting focus to the world of drag racing, there were endless examples of how the sport evolved, beginning with the incredibly stripped down rail job "The Bug" campaigned by Dick Kraft. The Waters and Murray "Triple Nickel" roadster is considered the first dragster to run a Chevy 265ci V-8, putting out 375 hp using a 50-50 nitro/alky fuel mix, no small feat for the mid '50s. As the sport grew, the cars got faster and more evil, which was easily seen from Rich Guasco's "Pure Hell," the Mondello and Matsubara AA/Fuel Altered, and the Weiss and Larkin AA/Fuel dragster.
A.R. "Tommy" Thompson's "Goldenrod" streamliner hit a top speed of 205.01 mph at Bonnevill
The brilliance of the exhibition was that the span of decades included cars that competed on the Ascot tracks through the '30s, Indy, and even the Big Oval NASCAR tracks. Proving that there was no sign of slowing down, current examples competing actively at Bonneville, including the Poteet and Main "Speed Demon" streamliner with its sights set on breaking the 500-mph mark this summer. Add in the chance to talk with many of the car owners, the sounds of race engines over the loud speakers echoing throughout the hall, and a perfect array of vendors, and you have an exhibition that ranks among one of the best seen in recent memory.