Car show photography by Dave Cruikshank
Being the editor of one of the biggest hot rod mags on the planet has its perks. I get to meet cool people and write about the best cars on the scene today. Attending the biggest and coolest car shows, is the cherry-on-the-sundae.
As I sit in a Berkeley-area coffee shop — manned with dour, proletariat baristas — I realize the sequence of simply getting my body to the Goodguys Autumn Get-Together in Pleasanton, California last weekend, was as much of an adventure as the show itself.
After running around SEMA like a chicken with my head cut off early this month, I had a few days to refuel, get caught up with my work and prep for one of the biggest — and last — car shows of the 2018 season, the aforementioned 29th Fuelcurve Autumn Get-Together presented by CrazyBulk.
I packed up my RV and headed out of Murrieta, California, the location of Rod Authority’s mothership, Power Automedia. Murrieta is a sprawling bedroom community, and along with its twin city Temecula, exploded in population in the early ’90’s.
A nice enough place, but ultimately, a poorly planned SoCal metropolis with inadequate infrastructure and all the personality of a Toyota Camry. In all fairness, it’s absolutely gorgeous in the fall after the hotter-than-Hades, triple-digit summers.
Murrieta and I parted ways amicably, and I was off to my first scheduled stop before the Goodguys show. An airline pilot buddy was going to be in Los Angeles that night so we agreed to meet for drinks and dinner.
The trip to LA from the Inland Empire is harrowing. The freeways are jam-packed with mostly new, extremely capable modern cars and you have to pay very close attention and either follow, lead, or get the hell out of the way.
As I arrived at LAX, I see a text message from my buddy, “Plane diverted to Albuquerque, gonna catch you next time.”
Note-to-self – When embarking on a 67-mile trip to meet someone, check texts often.
LAX isn’t anywhere you want to hangout and kill time, trust me, so I punched up “Hollywood” on Google Maps and off I went.
The night was hazy. The air was thick with jet fuel fumes and only dissipated miles after I cleared the radius of LAX.
I’m an expert in overnight stealth camping in my RV. I have explored LA hundreds of times, so I have an arsenal of secret spots that allow me to crash overnight undetected. One surefire way to garner attention in a B-Class RV is to park outside someone’s single-family home, the cops will be there in an hour.
The key is to find areas that are zoned multi-use, as the roster of cars on these kind of streets is ever changing. If you are a nomadic worker and this intrigues you, search “zoning maps” in any county and you can easily find multi-use residential areas.
I crashed in an apartment-laden area near Canter’s Deli off Fairfax. Up early on Friday morning, I clocked into the old Deli, set up my laptop and got to work. My goal was to get some work done, and head up to my next stop, Oxnard, California, to pay a visit to a friend up there.
And that’s when all hell broke loose.
I left LA headed north on 101, and proceeded to drive smack-dab into the embryonic “Woolsey Fire” in Ventura County. The traffic stopped and I wondered where the towering, angry black clouds were coming from. The Highway Patrol shut down the freeway and after an hour of waiting we started to see flames build on either side of the highway. To my right, a mature tree was being devoured by fire. Check out the end of the video below for a glimpse of the event.
For the first time in my life, I gathered my belongings and prepared to “abandon ship.” The wind was blowing frenetically and I knew that if it turned the wrong way my life was in danger — eventually it did.Suddenly a big, bloated, 747 flew above us. It was so low, you could see the pilot’s face in the cockpit. Trap doors opened and the Boeing big boy surrendered pink flame retardant over the area, temporarily muffling the flames.
The black smoke turned white. Things seemed to settle down, but that didn’t stop some from panicking. There were folks driving on the shoulder and trying to jump ahead in line. Oh, and there was the obligatory hysterical lady too.
Then with no warning, the traffic started to move. Google advised me the best, but longest, way around the newly created traffic snarl and I ended up at Point Magu State Park and Pacific Highway.
For reference, in the map below, I was stopped on the 101 between between Calabasas and Thousand Oaks on Thursday afternoon. A few days later, it had jumped the 101 and went south to the ocean. The route Google took me to get Pacific Highway is now destroyed.
Two hours later, I hit Oxford and met my buddy for dinner.
The next morning, I could smell the acrid fumes of smoke in the air. I decided to get the hell out of the area and hammered the 5.4 Triton motor in the van until I reached the safety of I-5 and escaped north.
Next stop, Goodguys 29th Fuelcurve Autumn Get-Together presented by CrazyBulk! Pleasanton is an interesting town. Once, the agricultural center for the Amador Valley and home to the oldest horse racing track in the nation, hops grown here were sought by many of the largest beer producers in the United States and Europe, making Pleasanton internationally famous.
Now, it is a bedroom community for those fleeing San Francisco. It reminded me of Murrieta. Faceless, single story business parks and big box apartment buildings with no one on the streets. It seemed clean and pleasant though, fitting for its name.
The Alameda Fairgrounds are vast and verdant. Even without an event in progress, I suspect the scent of deep fried corn dogs is most likely indelible.
I got my media credentials and off I went. The hospitality shown to me by the Goodguys people was exemplary. These guys and gals know how to throw a hot rod hootenanny and were at the top of their game here.
Goodguys is on the cutting edge of the car hobby as well. The Autumn Get-Together was open to all American or American-powered cars, of any year. They realize that to keep our hobby vibrant and growing, they need to cast a wider net and include younger, talented car builders and enthusiasts. They even bumped the eligibility of cars to their events up to 1987 as well.
As the event nears its 30th birthday, it shows no sign of slowing down. Along with the bitchin’ rides, there was autocross, demolition derby, swap meet, indoor displays and the camaraderie of fellow car geeks. An especially poignant moment was acknowledging our veterans with a nice ceremony.
Here are some of Rod Authority’s favorites from the show:
Pleasanton was the last show for me in 2018. Thanks to Goodguys and all the folks putting on the show. We’ll see you next year!