We’ve always enjoyed going to the NSRA Bakersfield event, primarily due to the large number of hot rodders that come from this area. When a major event like the NSRA Western Nationals is held, Bakersfield hosts hot rods from Sacramento to San Diego, and as far east as Las Vegas. It is the perfect location to draw cars from every inch of the region. As such, some of the same rodders come back year after year, and the bonds built between these enthusiasts run deep.
The NSRA Western Nationals in Bakersfield draw cars from Northern California, Southern Calfornia, and Las Vegas. There is something for everyone at the show.
The late Lynn Hubbard was one of those people that was a driving force and a huge supporter of the NSRA Western Nationals for years. For those that do not know the legacy of Lynn Hubbard, we covered her story last year after her passing in our article, Memories Of A Ground-Breaking NSRA Lady Gearhead. In Bakersfield, and specifically at the Western Nationals, everyone knew Lynn as the glue that held the Bakersfield car scene together. She was the local car expert. A registered car appraiser, and National Safety Inspector for the NSRA. Lynn wrenched on her own cars, and taught others how to work on theirs.
With Lynn’s passing, everyone wondered if things would change, and if not, who would fill those shoes. We were cautiously watching to see if someone stepped into that role, and we didn’t have to look very far to learn where the title would land. Laurie Hubbard-Wheat emerged as the heir-apparent, and for good reason. Laurie is Lynn’s daughter, and is also a registered car appraiser. Like her mother, Laurie also wrenches on her own cars, which now includes a 1948 Pontiac that once belonged to her father. “She’s got her mother’s blood,” said one observer.
Our personal guide and historian for the event was Laurie Hubbard-Wheat, a local gearhead with deep roots in the area’s car scene. She is a certified car appraiser and runs her own automotive business. Much like us, Laurie prefers the cars that are driven regularly.
We know when we are outclassed, so we asked Laurie to tell us about some of the top cars at this event. What we soon found out was, Like us, Laurie favors cars that get driven. This was readily apparent as she counted down her top three, which were all road warriors.
Laurie’s Pick #1: Cody Bilson’s 1930 Pontiac Big Six
“I’ve always liked guys that were comfortable driving pink cars,” joked Laurie. It may have been where the sun was located in the sky, or the angle that we were looking at the body, but we thought the paint was more Desert Rose than Pink. The paint was pleasantly chipped in some areas, showing that it was a real driver, and Laurie explained that this Pontiac was as close to a daily driver as we would ever see.
Pontiac made seven different models in 1930, with the Pontiac Big Six two-door sedan being one of the more popular models. Cody has kept this five-passenger two-door Sedan in almost bone stock condition, complete with the L-head equipped 200 cubic-inch flathead and three speed manual transmission. These dependable straight-sixes pumped out 60 horsepower at 3,000 rpm. Cody thought that his was down on power, however, and may need some timing adjustments.
Wire spoke wheels were optional on this model, and clearly displayed on Cody’s car. Stock 19-inch wood spoke wheels were normally installed at the factory. “Everything works,” said Cody, “Except the fuel gauge. I’ve run out of gas twice.”
These Pontiacs are identified by the horizontal and vertical lines. The hood features 31 vertical louvers that are there for looks as much as cooling. An oval shaped rear window on the sedans and other closed top cars were standard fare for the manufacturer in 1930. The plated headlamp buckets indicate that this car was a custom, and probably had many of the other options available for this model. Cody’s plans are to maintain the sedan, drive it often, and get the gas gauge fixed so he doesn’t have to walk again.
Laurie’s Pick #2: Richard Hedrick’s 1966 Pontiac Tempest
The 1966 Tempest Lemans was available in a tow- or four-door hardtop model, with a couple of different engine options. The Tempest 326ci V8 options, or one six-cylinder economy version. Richard, and his wife Bobbie, were married in 1964, and picked up this Lemans later to use as a tow vehicle. You can see the tow hitch receiver in the back. Richard says they would haul their dune buggy behind it on various trips.
This became Bobbie’s car, and she was happy driving the car almost everywhere she went. Richard has always owned more that one project car, but his wife seemed to prefer the old Pontiac. Unfortunately she passed away in 2015. Richard took the next year to restore the car to near original condition.
The car has been a Bakersfield regular for decades, used as a daily driver, and entered into many car events. Richard currently has four cars, but will probably never part with this family heirloom. The Pontiac still sports the stock gold and white color, and the original 326 cubic-inch Tempest engine that was fitted with a two-barrel carb. This combination kept the horsepower at a muscular 250 with slightly better economy numbers versus the four-barrel version that was rated with only 35 more horsepower.
The stock transmission survives behind the engine, which makes this an all numbers matching car. One of the few aftermarket upgrades that Richard made were the Cragar wheels, which keep the stock-style look with a vintage performance wheel.
Laurie’s Pick #3: Chris Brooks’ 1930 Rat Rod
“This isn’t one of those rat rods that you need a tetanus shot after you ride in it,” said Chris. He was right, it was one of the most complete, cleanest, and safest rat rods we’ve seen to date. “I don’t know if I would call it a rat rod-style build,” he stated. “Its more rock-a-billy than rusty.”
Stripped down of all extra weight, Chris dropped the body to the grass, chopped the top, clear coated the bare body panels, and highlighted the trim in green. This vicious stance with the green trim reminds us of a voodoo rod that would fit at home in the bayou, yet it easily looks at home in Bakersfield as well.
We wrapped up our show by stopping where Lynn Hubbard always parked her collection of cars. Most folks in these parts call the spot “Hubbard’s Corner,” and Laurie still parks in that spot as a tribute to the woman that bound the Bakersfield car scene together. We paused to enjoy Laurie’s 1948 Pontiac, and bid farewell until next year, where we can be sure that Laurie and Mike Wheat will be parked on Hubbard’s corner.