In 1937, hot rodders around L.A. formed the Southern California Timing Association to help organize dry lakes racing. That same year, near San Diego, the Del Mar horse racing track opened. Bing Crosby was at the gate to welcome fans. Who would have guessed that by the year 2000, hot rodders would be pouring into this chic Hollywood playground by the thousands—and nobody would even think of calling the police?
The prestigious Street Rod d’Elegance prize went to Jeffrey Chandler’s handbuilt ’33 roads
This year marked the 11th anniversary of the Goodguys Del Mar Nationals, a show that has become a magnet for some of the finest hot rods and customs in the country, frequently drawing cars that were competing under the lights at the Grand National Roadster Show just months before. Goodguys highlights some of those top-shelf vehicles in Del Mar in the indoor Display of Excellence exhibit. We spotted an AMBR contender or two in there as well as the 2011 Ridler award winner. Goodguys also uses this event to award its prestigious Street Rod d’Elegance.
But Del Mar isn’t all about elegance and elite-level show vehicles. Homebuilt Heaven, Ya Gotta Drive ’Em, Suede & Chrome Pick, and Youngguys Pick are among the many award categories aimed at the original grassroots level of the hobby. And considering Del Mar’s beach location and the large surfer population, it’s no surprise that this show always draws a bunch of beautiful woodies, most of them gathered in the Good Wood corral.
In honor of the performance roots of hot rodding, Goodguys invited a handful of restored ’60s-era dragsters to light ’em up during the Nitro Thunderfest held several times during the weekend. We walked away with ears ringing and eyes teary—from nostalgia as much as from the nitromethane fumes. And at the far end of the venue, the Autocross competition let participants compete on the cone course for more than show ’n’ shine glory.
Jim Payne named his Model A the “Too Cool ’31,” but Goodguys judges named it “Hottest Hot
If you missed this one, here’s the good news; you don’t have to wait a year to join this party. Goodguys is doing it again at the First Fall Del Mar Nats in November. Hope to see you there.
Painless Performance Products presents STREET RODDER Top 100
For the Top 100 program, STREET RODDER attends 10 particular car shows each year and picks 10 vehicles at each to make up the Top 100. For more on where those shows are, check www.streetrodder.com.
Painless Tech Tip
The grounding of your ride is essential. Always connect the battery ground to the engine and tie the engine to the frame as well as the body with heavy ground straps or cable. If your dash gauges fluctuate when you turn on the lights, there is a grounding problem.
One of our favorite shoeboxes of the weekend belongs to Jim Cooper from Laguna Hills. Coop
Taking the Show to the Street
After the first day of the Goodguys Del Mar Nats, many participants headed to nearby Escondido for the 2011 season opener of Cruisin’ Grand. Every Friday evening from April through September, the downtown side streets are closed to traffic and Grand Avenue is opened to cruisers. A live DJ (the best kind) was there to play classic oldies and host activities—including a hula-hoop contest—while hundreds of hot rods kept the show rolling.
Las Vegas, Nevada
1956 Ford F-100 Pickup
Joe Schenk is the luckiest guy in Las Vegas, and it has nothing to do with gambling. Schenk owns this hot-rodded ’56 F-100 big-window pickup. He drove a big-window ’56 to take his driver’s license test way back when and had always wanted another one. His wish came true about a year ago
Schenk’s ’56 gets plenty of power from a 4.6L DOHC engine, backed by a Tremec five-speed. The framerails were boxed and RideTech airbags were installed to drop the ’56 practically to ground level. All exterior brightwork was eliminated except for the grille, tailgate hinges, and Billet Specialties rims. Ron Mangus created the black leather interior. Who says a truck can’t be classy?