This weekend, Sacramento becomes the “Kustom Kar Capitol” of the world. Yup, if you like hot rods, kustom sleds and patina soaked rat rods, the Cal Expo Fairgrounds is where you need to be February 14th-16th, 2020. The O’Reilly Auto Parts, 70th Annual Sacramento Autorama is one of our favorite shows in North America for many reasons. Not only does the show attract the best pro builders and driveway Da Vincis from around the world, but bestows a reason to hang out on the Cal Expo Fairgrounds, a vintage, early ’70s venue that would be a perfect backdrop for a sci-fi movie.
Built in 1968, then California Governor Ronald Reagan opened the newly modernized “Cal Expo” site back in the day, which currently covers over 350 acres. Most importantly, the Autorama is a way for folks in the car hobby to have a big party and hang out. It’s fun for everybody too, with the whole family welcome too.
Promoter RodShows, filled us in on all the details, “The Sacramento Autorama, one of the longest-running indoor car shows in the world, is returning to the Cal Expo Fairgrounds in Sacramento, California on February 14-16, 2020. The three-day show will feature over 500 vehicles on display inside of the Cal Expo buildings competing to win the prestigious “Custom d’Elegance” award, or one of the show’s many other awards, as well as an additional 300 cars participating in the 14th Annual Sacramento Autorama Drive-In on Saturday and Sunday.
“The Sacramento Autorama was started by Sacramento businessman Harold “Baggy” Bagdasarian in 1950 when he brought together the members of a local car club to settle friendly arguments over the outstanding merits of their customized cars. Now in its 70th year, the show has grown to become “The Kustom Capital of the World,” showcasing the country’s best and most radical custom cars and hot rods, all competing for one of 400 awards recognizing the best customs, restored classics, motorcycles, trucks, hot rods, muscle cars, and street machines.
“The most coveted award of the show is the “Custom d’Elegance,” which is given to the best chopped, channeled and sectioned vehicle from 1935-1948 that embodies the true spirit of a classic custom. This year, 10 of the best custom owners and builders in America will be competing for the title, the $2,000 purse and to have their name added to the historic perpetual plaque alongside iconic customizers like Gene Winfield, Joe Bailon, George Barris, and John D’Agostino. The other highly sought-after award at the show is the “King of Kustoms,” which recognizes the best 1935-1964 custom build with particular focus on bodylines, design, flow and quality of workmanship.”
In addition to “Custom d’Elegance” and “King of Kustoms,” there are an additional 47 “outstanding” and sweepstakes awards up for grabs as well as seven special judges’ picks known as the “Big B Awards.”
2018 H.A. Bagdasarian “World’s Most Beautiful Custom”
Of these special accolades, the H.A. Bagdasarian’s “World’s Most Beautiful Custom” award is by far the most prestigious. This award is open to any custom from 1936 to present that features a major silhouette change and is chosen by show founder H.A. Bagdasarian’s family. The winner gets their name enshrined on the 8-foot tall perpetual trophy and takes home $500 in prize money.
2018 Sam Barris Award Winner
The Sam Barris Memorial Award is a tribute to a customizing trailblazer. Along with brother George Barris – the late maker of numerous handcrafted movies and TV series cars – these midwest natives moved to Roseville back in the day and helped ignite the sun-soaked, California custom-car craze.
The 2018 Joe Bailon Award Winner
Bailon Award recognizes Joe “Candy Apple Red” Bailon, the Northern California customizer who created the color that became synonymous with his name.
The Dick Bertolucci Automotive Excellence Award Winner
Presented to the car with the best craftsmanship in assembly, fit, finish and detail – it’s a tribute to the longtime owner of Bertolucci’s Body and Fender Shop in Sacramento. Decades ago, Bertolucci established a national reputation as a big kahuna car restorer, and his personal car collection was vast and impressive.
Rod Shows continues, “The 2020 Sacramento Autorama is shaping up to be one of our most competitive, and exciting shows yet,” said John Buck, producer of the Sacramento Autorama. “This is an incredibly historic event which draws out the best of the best, I think if Harold ‘Baggy’ Bagdasarian were here to see this he would be thoroughly impressed with what the show has become.
“The 70th Annual Sacramento Autorama will host multiple feature classes including the Lowrider Showcase; The Club House, which features over 25 car clubs; and the Suede Pavilion for traditional rods and customs.
“Beyond the amazing custom rides, live music, and good food, show attendees will also have the chance to watch the best pinstripers in the nation as they create custom pinstriped works of art live during the show at the Autorama Panel Jam. All of this artwork will then be put up for auction, the proceeds from which will be donated to support the University of California, Davis.
“This year’s show will be honoring Sacramento native and custom body shop owner, Dick Bertolucci as builder of the decade. Bertolucci is a founding member of the Capitol Auto Club which eventually grew into the Sacramento Autorama we know today.
“The 70th Annual Sacramento Autorama will also feature appearances by Adrienne “AJ” Janic of the TLC show “Overhaulin.” AJ has spent years working in film and television, particularly in the automotive world. Visitors will have the opportunity to meet AJ, who will be signing autographs Saturday from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. as well as Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. The first 500 guests to meet AJ will receive a free autographed calendar.”
Power Automedia’s Dave Cruikshank, editor of Rod Authority, will be on the ground with live feeds, pics and articles and will be picking his favorite car at the Drive-In on Saturday, so stay tuned!
The Sacramento Autorama opens to the public at noon on Friday, February 14 and runs until 8 p.m. The show then runs 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Saturday and 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Sunday. Admission for adults is $20 each day, children ages 6-12 are $10 each day and children ages 5 and under are free. Tickets are also available at all participating O’Reilly Auto Parts stores in Northern California for $18. Parking is $10 and the entrance to the lot is located at the Main Gate and East Gate off Exposition Blvd. For more information about the Sacramento Autorama, go here.