Beautiful Seaport Village in San Diego, CA, was the location for a car show on Sunday, October 21st, with expectations of over 200 cars in a venue that can support nearly twice as many. The All American Pow-Wow, an event that combined the efforts of two local car clubs: the Mopar Club of San Diego and the San Diego Chapter of the Pontiac Oakland Club International, was open to all makes and models, all modes of transportation, and was free to all spectators.
The day started out at roughly 5:30 a.m., with club members and volunteers arriving in darkness to help set up the event. The hope was that the wet, rainy weather would clear up and that it wouldn’t put a damper (pardon the pun) on the event. The rain was light, but persistent throughout the set up process, and despite the urge to go home and watch football on a cozy couch, everyone held fast and kept fingers crossed.
By the first crack of light, the rain had fizzled out, and though the ground was a little soggy spirits were good. It was a concern to many that this event, which donated proceeds to such charitable organizations as USO, Homefront San Diego and Fisher House, was not going to see as many as expected. All three charities benefit our military personnel, so all morning long it was a concern for Bob Gough, Mopar Club PentaGram Editor, that donations to the charities might be less than expected. The charity donations were one of the main reasons the show was held.
As light emerged over the tall hotels to the east, the weather was finicky and couldn’t make up its mind on whether rain was going to be the regimen for the day, or if the clear skies to the west would break through and brighten the day – and bring more participants with it. The tall luxury hotels and boats in the marina provided a gorgeous backdrop to this car show, and the foot traffic of regular joggers and walkers continued throughout the morning.
Despite the weather, the clubs and volunteers persisted and took it all in stride and made the most of it as they prepared for the cars that crossed the entry gate. One by one, we could see pairs of headlights in the early hours with the mist keeping windshield wipers occupied. Clearly there were some die-hards that weren’t going to let a little water stop them from coming. The traffic was steady once the cars were allowed to start coming in, and we saw groups representing local car clubs, and friends alike, who didn’t seem to care that the weather wasn’t the best.
Providing musical entertainment for the show was Mobile Event Radio and their “Big Yellow Truck”. Founders Bob “Showboat” Chabot and Geoff “Scooby” Ferber set up at the north end of the park and kept people entertained with music, interviews and a few comedic takes on the pending forecast. Their truck is something you can’t miss: a 12′ x 12′ slide out platform that’s five feet up gave them a view of the grounds and participants. As Scooby made his way around the park he stopped to talk with participants and club members as “Showboat” and Ian “Big E” Hughes manned the music and invited key people up on stage for interviews.
Helping to sell raffle tickets – “an arm’s length for $20″ – was none other than Hot Rod Holly, whom you might have seen on the TV show “My Ride Rules”. Holly brought her infamous silver 1956 Chevy truck, which was the ride that ruled over three tough competitors. Holly made her way around helping out with raffle ticket sales for the numerous gifts that were offered, including a big-screen flat-panel HD TV, a Wii game set, and dozens of other prizes.
What car show would be complete if it didn’t have special guests who have made a significant impact on the automotive hobby? One of the guests has a very familiar car that used to run at dragstrips in the 60′s and 70′s. The “Godfather of the GTO”, Jim Wangers was on hand with a couple of nice Pontiacs to sign autographs and chat with the crowd about his passion. He also had a few of his books there that he was autographing for buyers.
Unfortunately, he didn’t have one of his GeeTO Tigers with him; the weather seemed to be a little bit of a concern and factored into his decision as to which cars to bring. Nonetheless, both the Grand Prix and The Judge that he brought along were incredible specimens, and they were enjoyed by the many people who stopped by to visit with Wangers.
Another enthusiast from the automotive world was noted author and photographer Robert Genat. He has penned numerous books about our hobby as well as clicking off some beautiful photographs of hot rod, muscle cars and race cars.
He told us he was retired from writing and taking pictures, but he was there all day to sign autographs as well. He had a few of his books on hand at discount prices, including “Six Pack: Mopar Street Muscle in the 60′s.” Some of his other books include “Hemi Muscle”, “Chevy SS: The Super Sport Story” and “Woodward Avenue: Cruising the Legendary Strip”, to name a few.
Also at the show was a presence by Cal-Diego Paralized Veterans Association to show off a couple of cars that they race. One of our favorites was a hand-control equipped Datsun 510 built to race. We spoke with Duane Norman who is a bit of a remarkable individual with a passion for anything fast and cool. He began racing go-karts when he was a kid, and moved up into bigger cars when he got older. In 1970, he was involved in an accident at the race track and sustained a serious neck injury.
While Duane was in the hospital for recovery, he was told he would live only 10-15 years. But there he was at the show, some 42 years later showing off the car he races on weekends. He competed at the Speedfest at North Island, and it’s truly amazing to see him race that Datsun. Imagine driving your car and controlling everything with just your hands. “You keep very busy behind the wheel,” he told us. He was, as always, all smiles and a pleasure to talk to.
Reflections Of The Show
It was looking very hopeful as the weather broke free from the clouds and the sun began to shine through. The hundred-plus participants remained where they were as their beautiful cars got a couple of good rinses thanks to Mother Nature. When the rain picked up a little, hoods were closed slightly and windows were rolled up, but not a single car budged (other than to park next to friends or club members).
Since the show didn’t discriminate, it was great to see the variety of cars on the grounds. There were a couple of Corvettes, some trucks, a couple of low-riders and plenty of classic and modern muscle to make it a bona fide car show. The people who did show up rocked it and the few patches of sunshine between the sprinkles gave them all the more reason to hang around just a little longer.
The turnout may not have been all that was expected, but it was a great day and everyone had fun, right up to the last minute as they were handing out the awards for the various categories, as well as the awards given that were picked by spectators and participants. Awards were handed out early in the afternoon and the grounds were packed as proud car owners accepted their awards.
There was a healthy showing of Mopars and Pontiacs, but the Fords and Chevys were in full force and represented well. All in all, it was an awesome place to have a car show; the mound where all of the cars parked gave a spectacular view that competed with the harbor – and won for best view at Seaport Village in our opinion. The foot traffic continued throughout the day and even casual walkers and joggers stopped for a few moments to check out the cars that had invaded their Sunday stroll.
We were there the entire day and spoke to dozens of people who shared their stories and their love for hot rods and muscle cars. Back at the raffle table, it was a like a colony of ants with volunteers scurrying around to get tickets written on the board, and prizes handed out. When everyone else was out enjoying the show, it seemed that these ladies and gents never stopped working. Almost everywhere you went you could find Hot Rod Holly and her roll of raffle tickets.
We liked this show, and hopefully next year will bring better weather, but it seems that the crowd that was there didn’t mind a bit. That’s what these car shows are all about: people who just love their cars and are willing to share it with everyone else. You might think that the two clubs that put on this show would be disappointed at the weather and the turnout, but the disappointment was for different reason. As Bob Gough said, “I wish more people would have come so we could give more money to the charities.” A bigger turnout would have meant a bigger donation.
That about sums it all up, while some shows charge ridiculous entry fees so they can cash in, the Mopar Club of San Diego and the San Diego Chapter of the Pontiac-Oakland Club do if for two reasons: because they love cars, and they love to help such great organizations as the USO, Homefront San Diego and Fisher House – who support our proud and brave military personnel. That’s what it’s all about, and we plan to come back next year.