The Goodguys Rod and Custom Association, now in it’s 28th year of promoting hot rod and custom car events, brought their road show to scenic Del Mar, California for the fourth or 21 events in 2011.
The upscale community of Del Mar, where many of the world’s rich and famous have resided, is located in North San Diego on the coast.
Time Magazine listed Del Mar’s 15th street beach as the fourth greatest beach in the world and the Beach Boys included the town in their hit song “Surfin’ USA.” It’s little wonder that the hot rod crowd looks forward to the Goodguys Del Mar Nationals every year for the last 11 years.
“The Del Mar event is one of the Goodguys car events where the car owners actually cruise the main strip,” said Detroit Speed’s Stacy Tucker. “If you find a good spot on the strip and wait, the cars all come to you.”
Anticipating what awaited us beyond the entrance gate, there was no way we were going to sit on a corner a wait for the cars to come to us. We tighten up our shoelaces and started hiking from the parking lot to the closest section of cars near the back gate.
As we made our way down the parameter road toward the displays of cars, we talked with Goodguys event spokesman John Drummond. “There’s a lot of special events that are happening this weekend,” Drummond said. “The autocross event is taking place today (Friday), the Editor’s Challenge is happening on Saturday and on Sunday the 2011 Street Rod d’Elegance award will be announced” he added.
As we approached the fairgrounds, there was a mixture of Beach Boys music and a symphony of V8’s.
When the cars came into view, we were immediately transformed back in history, surrounded by the greatest muscle cars and hot rods in automotive history.
The sights and sounds of the event hearkened back to a day when times were simpler and Friday’s were made for cruising.
Our eyes were filled by Buick Sunmist Gray, Chevrolet Tropical Turquoise, Dodge Charger Red and Ford Lustre Black. Pre WWII Flathead Fords, 1940’s Plymouths, 1950’s Chevys, 1960’s Mustangs, GTOs, 4-4-2s, Chevelles and Road Runners lined up from gate to gate at the fairgrounds.
We stopped and watched some of these automotive marvels run on the autocross course, each car pushing the limits of their handling through the series of corners lined by orange cones.
There was something special about these drivers, who had spent countless hours restoring these marvelous machines, running against the clock and each other on this tightly spaced course.
Every driver had their eyes focused on the course and a smile on their face, regardless of the speed they managed to coax out of these machines.
After watching the autocross street challenge for an hour, we moved on to the Show and Shine portion of the event. The Show and Shine portion of the car show is set up where similar type cars are parked together in special parking areas.
The “Trick Truck Corral” is where all the custom hot rod trucks were displayed, The “Mighty Muscle” area featured vintage cars from Detroit’s muscle car period and “Homebuilt Heaven” is where owners showed their custom build hot rods off.
Other areas were reserved for California’s surf scene cars in the “Good Wood” area, daily drivers in the “You gotta driver ‘em” section and youth was served in the “Young Guys” section.
We spent the rest of the day walking through the special parking sections admiring the vehicles that represented decades of automobile history. Like Stacy Tucker had told us, many of these cars fired up and cruised down the main drag putting on a show that can only be called a rolling museum.
We left the event Friday evening with our cameras full of pictures and our thoughts on Saturday’s events. In particular, the Editor’s Challenge Autocross event where three of the powerTV editors would test their mettle against other editors in the industry.
Saturday’s events got underway at a very early 9:00 a.m. West coast start time with the Street Challenge Autocross. Once again the enthusiasts challenged the course, the clock and each other by taking their machines through the cone lined autocross course.
With tires smoking and cones flying, vintage custom cars tackled the course one by one. At 1:00 p.m. the real fun began when Goodguys annual Editor’s Challenge got underway.
Writers from the top automotive magazines in the nation took turns running a lap in a Chevy, Ford and a Mopar. In total, 16 editors took part in the 4th annual edition of the Editor’s Challenge with 11-time SCCA AutoCross National Champion ‘ringer’ Mary Pozi posting the quickest time to no one’s surprise.
“I’ve attended all of these Editor’s Shootouts and this was by far the most competitive,” she said. “I’d like to thank the sponsors as well as the companies who donated their cars for this – it was a blast! I’d also like to thank Goodguys for holding the autocross events. It gets people into the event a lot more than sitting in a lawn chair. This was great.”
While the Hot Rod Seminars were taking place in the Mission Tower at the fairgrounds, Revelle’s “Kids Make and Take” model car building event was going on in the model building while the Rock and Roll show was happening in the Plaza de Mexico and the Paddock main stage.
The San Diego crowd continued to dance the night away when the live music at the car show ended and everyone moved to the Del Mar Hilton across the street where the Goodguys event planning was headquartered.
The final day of events were highlighted by the Rodder’s church service in the Mission tower hosted by the Christian Rodders Association followed by the Rock and Roll show’s continuation from the previous evening.
The Goodguys tour is known for their awards program which is always held on the final day, with awards like the Goodguys Builder’s Choice Top Ten, PPG Dream Car, Finalist for Muscle Car of the Year award, Truck of the Year and Muscle Machine of the Year awards.
The award that everyone seemed to be waiting for at this event was the prestigious Street Rod d’ Elegance award which was awarded to Rancho Sante Fe’s Jeffrey Chandler and his 1933 Ford Roadster.
The Street Rod d’ Elegance award is presented annually at the Del Mar Nationals Goodguys event in which the winner receives an anodized billet award for the mantle, a customized toolbox from Snap-on as well as travel accommodations to the 14th Southwest Nationals, November 18-20 in Scottsdale, Arizona.
A stunned Chandler accepted his trophy and stated “We honestly did not expect this. I wasn’t prepared to be interviewed as the winner.” Whether he expected it or not, Jeffrey Chandler took the honors with his completely hand built red and black roadster.
The day wound down with the locals taking in the last views of this traveling road show while the vendors packed away their wares and car owners prepared their cars for the next Goodguys event scheduled for May 20th through May 22nd in Nashville, Tennessee.
We bid our fair well to the friends we made at the event with a promise to see them again at the end of the year in the Goodguys newest annual event scheduled for the tour, the 1st Annual Del Mar Fall Nationals in late November. Until then, we have the thousands of photos that we shot and memories for a lifetime.