On November 30th Rod Authority shot northeast on the interstate 15 from our home base in Murrieta, California to Riverside, California’s municipal airport. The sun was clear that day and covered the Inland Empire in a blanket of warmth – looking back, it was a temporary farewell, the climate, as of late, has gripped Southern California in a late-bloom winter chill.
Bo Huff, a custom builder with a long time interest in Kustom Kulture is a household name in California and the host of the event. Along with the Dead Sleds Car Club and Rockabilly 66 Productions, Bo Huff and team produced what he calls, “The Lollapalooza of Rockabilly.” Bo Huff Rockabilly Extravaganza not only celebrates the cars but the gamut of sub-cultures that comprise the Kustom Kulture niche of enthusiasts. The cars are of course, a headliner, but Kustom Kulture is unique because it pays homage and spotlights music, aesthetics, and artwork associated with early 20th century America as well as the modern waves and revivals to an equal degree.
Bo Huff’s name and endeavors have been circulating around the western side of the country for some time. He, as well as his builds, have been featured in several publications. The Dead Sleds Car Club, of which he is a member, have also been spotlighted giving the club and Huff some notoriety around our neck of the woods.
His work, honors, and awards speak for themselves – he is a three time hall of fame inductee. From Huff’s Facebook, his awards section details that he is a Darryl Starbird’s National Rod and Custom Car H.O.F. inductee, a K.K.O.A. H.O.F. inductee, and a Kustoms of America H.O.F. inductee. Huff walks three halls in one life while some are lucky to walk one in death. Trophies aside, when it comes to what truly matters, Huff’s down-to-earth and infectious personality are what will seal his growing status as a legend. This man loves to build, loves to party, and knows how to host a no holds barred rockabilly fueled car gathering.
A complete biography of Bo Huff can be found on his website www.shopbohuffcustoms.com but to give you a glimpse of his background we’ve taken a couple of excerpts from the site. Huff was born on March 12, 1943 in Clarksville, Arkansas to Gervis and Corene Huff. Huff is the middle child of three.
In 1953 him and his family moved to Dragerton, Utah, a mining town. In 1973 Dragerton and Columbia, a neighboring town, experienced tough times within the mining industry and were consequently incorporated into East Carbon, Utah.
During his attendance at East Carbon High School, Bo began to develop his interest in hot rods and customs. One of the first cars that Bo sunk his hands into was a 1950 Dodge. According to his website it was a simple project, but one that would solidify his love for cars, “I was always looking at the older guys in their lowered cars and loved them,” says Huff. His website states, “The modifications to that car were simple – heated springs and bumpers swapped out from a ’49 Plymouth, but it was the beginning of Bo Huff’s life long love affair with automobile fabrication, paint, slicked back hair, cuffed jeans, and engineering boots.”
Huff left Carbon County to attend a body and fender school in Denver, Colorado where he honed his passion while gaining invaluable automotive knowledge. After completion he moved to Salt Lake City, Utah. “State Street was the place to be, it was like a car show back then, full of low slung primered customs, painted customs, and hot rods. We would all cruise to Don Carlos’ and Fred & Kelly’s. Those were the hot spots on State Street,” says Huff.
During the 60s and onward Huff experienced life in Orange County, California and then in Fayetteville, Arkansas. He opened and ran a custom shop in both cities for many years. Nowadays, he spends his time back in East Carbon – his stomping ground, the Inland Empire of California, and traveling throughout the country hitting up the bigger trade shows to promote Kustom Kulture.
It is frankly, bad ass, when you catch an old timer like Bo Huff at the 2013 SEMA Show talking about the stuff he loves to corporate business men and putting a twinkle of romanticism back in their eyes.
Bo Huff Rockabilly Extravaganza was no different. The man simply loves to be around like minded people. There were a couple of times that the Dead Sleds or other event coordinators were trying to flag him over to the stage to introduce a portion of the day or to give a few words and he was nowhere to be found, only to find out that he was walking up and down shaking hands with vendors, shooting photos with the kids, and catching up with old buddies from the biz. A busy man with a big heart and larger than life spirit.
Bo Huff’s event was a menagerie of all things old school Americana. If you appreciate World War 2 era planes as much as the cars that were coming off the line during that time you’d have been in luck. The commemorative Air Force and Wings of Valor offered plane rides for those that wanted to catch a birds eye view of the event. Participants could choose between hitting the air in either a ’40 Stearman BiPlane or T-6 Texan. A ’43 DC-3 was parked for event attendees to take an inside look at the cabin and snap shots.
A full lineup of bands paying homage to the roots of rock were plugged in and playing tunes for all day entertainment. This year Bo Huff booked a lineup to fill the main stage and a secondary stage strategically placed in the midst of where cars were parked for display. This gave the clubs, individual car owners, families, and friends the option to hang around their camps without having to worry about missing a beat. The Forty Fours, The Hot Rod Trio, Crown City Bombers, Mad Max and the Wild Ones, and Elvis tribute – Victor Trevino and the Wild Ones, played the main stage this year.
If the planes, the music, and the cars weren’t enough and you needed more, there were barbers present taking in lines of guys that hadn’t gotten that routine cleanup.
Rod Authority can’t think of anything better than enjoying live music on a sunny day, looking out towards a landscape of customs and hot rods, strapped into a barber’s chair, getting a hot towel shave, while enjoying an ice cold beer. It’s safe to say that we got a preview of Kustom Kulture Valhalla during that sunny afternoon. Just incase you’re the type that takes a bit of convincing, we bet that the kielbasa sausage dogs they were serving up right in front of the barber setup would have forced a smile on that bay rum-fresh face of yours.
Cars? What cars? From 1:45 to 2:30 that’s what the crowd was saying during the pinup swim suit contest. The stage was cleared for a pageant of gorgeous ladies of all shapes, shades, and sizes with one thing in common – each and every one pranced and posed on the stage executing an exhibition of class. The pinup is timeless for her ability to cause bumper to bumper collisions through subtlety while remaining masterfully modest. Where in today’s day and age flashing your trump cards will stop traffic, cause tunnel vision, and cast you into a voodoo trance, the pinup can do the exact same thing, without having to show even 25% of what today’s standards expect. That’s talent in our books.
All in all, it was an awesome day. The climate was a nice reminder of summertime, the energy was high, and there was an abundance of gorgeous rides, entertainment, and of course, beer. Rod Authority wanted to sign off on this coverage by throwing in Bo Huff’s personal Facebook message following the event:
“Thank you to all that came to the Bo Huff Rockabilly Extravaganza on Saturday! It was the best show we’ve ever put on, and possibly the best show I’ve ever been to! The people were great, the cars were exceptional, and the bikes were superb! A big thank you to Randy Wyatt, Jeff Givens, everyone at Wyatt’s Paint and Body, Los Dead Sleds Car Club, Ana Marco, all the vendors, all the bands, and anyone who had any part in this, especially the car and bike owners and all the spectators. This show would be nothing without all of you! Thank you!”
You can bet that Rod Authority will be in attendance for next year’s followup Rockabilly Extravaganza. For those who are interested, Bo Huff throws two annual events each year – The Bo Huff July Car Show in East Carbon, Utah and the Rockabilly Extravaganza which is always scheduled the Saturday following Thanksgiving in Riverside, California. Hats off to Bo, the bands, the pinups, the vendors, and enthusiasts that, as Bo says, “keep this thing alive and well.”
Check out Rod Authority’s exclusive gallery from this year’s Bo Huff Rockabilly Extravaganza below: