When the 69th Grand National Roadster Show (GNRS) set up shop last weekend at the Pomona Fairplex in Southern California, hundreds of hot rods and custom cars from around the world rumbled in and the old school facility was suddenly transformed to a gigantic mecca for motor heads.
The Fairplex is worth a pilgrimage all by itself. Built as the Los Angeles County Fairgrounds in 1922, it retained that moniker until 1984 when it was re-christened with it’s current name. With 43 acres donated by the City of Pomona, the grounds now cover 543 acres and includes nearly 325,000 square feet of indoor exhibit space and parking for 30,000 cars.
Among other features, the Fairplex offers various scenic parks, plazas and picnic areas, a historic train exhibit, and 12 acres of carnival grounds. A treat for art deco architecture fans as well.
If you’re heading to GNRS for the first time, be sure and study a map of fairgrounds and familiarize yourself with the grounds. Be sure check the onsite NHRA Museum as well, which is a MUST SEE for car geeks of all ages.
If your thinking about a build of your own and want to get acquainted with best painters, wrenches and upholstery guys currently working in the hobby, look no further. They also have their best work on display for your consideration.
The most coveted and prestigious award at the GNRS is “America’s Most Beautiful Roadster,” aka the AMBR award. Not only is there a $10,000 cash prize, but the winning car – and it’s owner – are etched forever on the AMBR trophy alongside some of the greatest custom car builders of all time.
This year’s AMBR contenders numbered 15, after an undisclosed 16th entrant bowed out. When the smoke cleared, 14 early Fords and one Cadillac made the list of finalists.
After three days of intense judging, first time entrant Dave Martin won the AMBR with his dark blue 1931 Ford Roadster with a jaunty orange stripe.
2018 America’s Most Beautiful Roadster – Dave Martin’s 1931 Roadster built by Hot Rods and Hobbies. ▼
According to show promoter RodShows, “A 1931 Ford Roadster owned by Dave Martin and built by California based Hot Rods & Hobbies, earned the coveted ‘America’s Most Beautiful Roadster’ title in a highly anticipated announcement made Sunday during the closing ceremonies of the 69th annual Grand National Roadster Show (GNRS) at the Fairplex in Pomona.”
A crowd favorite throughout the event, “The Martin Special” was praised for its precision craftsmanship and dazzling aesthetics, as well as its provenance. In a prior form the car competed in the famed Silver State Classic open road race and while the latest, show-stopping iteration of the car has Indy Roadster influences it also has a 500hp Ed Pink Racing Engines built small block power plant harkening back to its prior form.
“Dave Martin’s car is an amazing hot rod that began as a bare metal race car and ultimately earned the highest honor in the rodding world,” said John Buck, owner of Rod Shows and producer of the Grand National Roadster Show. “This Ford Roadster possesses all the qualities that our judges look for, truly blowing us away thanks to its exceptional craftsmanship and innovative styling.”
Not our favorite, but a killer indeed. Let’s take a look at all the contenders, starting with Dave Martin’s winning car and ending up with Rod Authority’s favorite.
The Runner Ups:
Bill Nash’s 1930 Ford Roadster ▼
Pete Aardema – 1934 Ford Roadster “Porch-Chalet” ▼
1932 Ford, Scott Helliesen of Franklin Lakes, New Jersey ▼
1927 Ford concept car, Daniel Hostetter of San Diego, California ▼
1932 Ford owned by Brian Cruz of New Braunfels, Texas ▼
1936 Cadillac custom, Rick Dore of Carlsbad, California ▼
1936 Ford, Chris and Robyn Parmelee of Norco, California ▼
1932 Ford, Bruce Meyer of Beverly Hills, California▼
1932 Ford, Alan Johnson of Fallbrook, California▼
1932 Ford, Sean Black of Hartselle, Alabama▼
John and Pat Miller’s ’32 Ford Roadster▼
Eddie Dye Roadster – Thomas Bobowski▼
John Leonti’s 1932 Roadster “il Dolce” Duece
And Rod Authority’s Favorite, “Elrod” 1936 Ford owned by Dana Elrod of Sunrise Beach, Missouri▼
In retrospect, we don’t envy the judges. Any of the cars that battled it out for AMBR could have won. Some say that the hot rod hobby’s days are numbered, but we say the scene is as healthy and robust as it’s ever been. The 2018 Grand National Roadster Show bristled with young talent, creativity and innovation. Couple that with new technology like CAD/CAM design and 3-D printing and the sky’s the limit.
Kudos to RodShows for a smooth production and Kahn Media for their hospitality!
For more information about the Grand National Roadster Show and for the full list of 2018 award winners, please visit RodShows.com