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The 58th Annual Grand National Roadster Show

Pomona, CA
January 26-28, 2007

Story by Richard Parks and Photographs by Roger Rohrdanz

The 58th Annual Grand National Roadster Show was held on January 26-28, 2007, at the Los Angeles County Fairplex, in Pomona, California. The weather was nearly perfect with sunny California skies and the temperature in the low 60’s. The owner and promoter of the show, John Buck, expanded the Grand National to seven spacious buildings on the Fairgrounds, and in the surrounding space around the buildings. The size of the venue sight enhances the entire show. The Fairplex was built during the 1930’s in an Art Deco theme; to handle events for the Olympics held in Los Angeles in 1932. The buildings are large and well kept up. Between the structures are paved walkways and streets where cars, vendors and large displays are also set up. The sheer immensity of the site and the cars and displays make it impossible to see everything in one day. The vendors sell or show a wide range of goods and services for the hot rodder and fan of the genre. John Buck, his lovely wife Annika, and their friendly and hardworking staff, do everything that they can to welcome all aspects of the hot rod culture to their show, and to the Sacramento Autorama that they promote in February. Annika was in charge of the vendor’s check in window and quickly and efficiently answered questions and solved problems.


Building 5 & 10 before the spectators come in.


Building 8 & 7 before the spectators come in.

Tiffany Buck and Laura Eliassen were in charge of the participant check-in window and both of them had a warm smile and quickly processed the line of car owners. I spoke to one of the exhibitors, Bill Corbett from Los Angeles, California, who was registering 6 cars and says that he is a long time participant, and he said he was very happy and pleased with the show. Blackie Gejeian, who has his own car show, and Joe Graffio, a well-known oval track roadster racer stopped by to say hello. Gejeian’s show is by invitation only and if he likes your car he will place a placard on your windshield that says, “you have been selected to appear in my show.” And you had better go when the master asks you to come. There were 4 boats, 3 of them from Prime Marine of Rancho Cucamonga, California, and a Mike Collins drag boat. “The Reverend” Scrub Hansen was busy judging. He stopped to explain the procedure. There are 15 judges who have to review and judge 290 vehicles. Each vehicle is looked over by a judge, then the process is repeated by another judge, and they choose to rate the vehicle 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5. Both judges must agree, and if they don’t, the chief judge will ask the two judges to go out and review the car once more and if they can’t agree the second time, the chief judge will make the final decision.

Some of the judges come from the Oakland/San Francisco Bay area and they have been working as a team for years. They know the judges from the Southern California area and they work very well together, though they tease each other on their regionality. Ken Smith is the Judging Director, and Danny Gonsalves is the Judging Supervisor, and both men spent time explaining the procedure. The first job of the judges is to classify the vehicles into categories based on the kinds of modifications they have. Then comes the judging which may take 8 minutes up to an hour or more. They will work fast and furiously all day Friday and Saturday, but by Sunday morning the results must be tabulated and turned in to the Show Director. “The judges decisions are final,” said Smith. Two of the judges are assigned to the motorcycles in the show. “Judges are chosen for their skill,” said Smith, “and we hold seminars to help train new judges.” The judges “are totally impartial,” added Gonsalves, “and they judge a vehicle on the quality of work.” The judges work in the hot rod shows and are not involved in concourse judging. “Altered cars are what we are good at judging,” said Gonsalves. After the judges turn in their scores, Smith tallies them up and makes the final decision. “If the vehicle belongs to a friend, we won’t judge it but reassign it to another judge, nor will we let personal feelings enter into our judging,” said Smith. A few judges cross the line and judge other events. Hansen has judged ISCA (International Show Car Association) shows, and Gonsalves has judged a few concourse cars that have had hot rods in them. “Move-in day is Thursday, and if they miss the deadline, then they’re out,” said Hansen.

Leaving the judges I asked those volunteers who were in charge of vehicle move-in and security what their jobs were like. Rick Ferguson, a member of the Cal-Rods Club of San Gabriel Valley, California, referred me to his brother, Jack Ferguson, the Move-in Coordinator. The Cal-Rods are often called upon to help out at car shows and there were 68 of their members working to insure that vehicles entered the show, were parked and after the show, were able to leave safely. In between, they watched the vehicles to make sure that no one climbed on the vehicles or damaged them. “Some cars are assigned spots, and the open spots that remain are on a first come basis,” said Ferguson. “The Cal-Rods Car Club started in Baldwin Park, California, in 1954, among students at Baldwin Park High School. It was reformed later and now has over 500 members. One of our more well-known members is Steve Gibbs,” said Ferguson. The Cal-Rods also help the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum’s Twi-Light Cruise on the first Wednesday of the month, from April through December. Tom Connors, a new member of the club added, “the club is open to anyone and you don’t even have to have a hot rod to join.” The Cal-Rods are having their 1st Annual Santa Anita Park Car Show, on March 18, 2007, at the famed horse racing track and are expecting over 500 cars to show up. “Santa Anita Park officials asked the Cal-Rods to do this show to raise money for charity,” said Tom Benson. The Cal-Rods also put on an annual Fall show in Covina, California.

Dave and Maria Bengochea brought 5 vehicles from America’s Car Collection located in Winnemucca, Nevada, including the Don Tognatti coupe. The collection is housed in the museum owned by Ralph Whitworth, who owns over 80 cars, including classics, hot rods and racecars. Dave Bengochea is the museum’s curator, car builder and restorer. Whitworth’s collection also includes motorcycles, trucks, the Elvis Presley Limo, stock cars owned by Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Jimmie Johnson, landspeed cars and a Dick Landy Dodge drag car. Pinkee’s Rod Shop, from Windsor, Colorado, had a big display of their cars and their apparel line. Many of the well-known car builders are now coming out with an apparel line that is greater than the T-shirts that they once sold, and finding it very lucrative. The HOP-UP Magazine booth was very nostalgic. Mark Morton is the owner and he copyrighted the name after the title was abandoned. “There are a lot of old names that no one uses anymore and I found this name and started up the company again in 2000,” he said. The old HOP-UP was in existence from 1951-1954. Morton prints one issue a year, plus specials, and also runs a website from his base in Riverside, California. The magazine has 146 pages, in color, with great photos and articles on slick, glossy paper, slightly bigger than the original magazine. “I knew of HOP-UP from swap meets and corresponded with the former editor, Dean Batchelor, who gave me the okay to take it over. It needed to be done,” said Morton.

William George from New Mexico, exhibited a 1937 all steel Ford Station Wagon designed by Jim Noteboom. His Wagon took 2nd place in “Radical Custom Rod Wagon”. Noteboom won the “Al Slonaker Memorial Award” for the same Wagon. George also exhibited a ’58 Impala with variations of the purple color scheme. He has shown both cars at the Detroit Autorama. He is leaving early on Sunday to be with his wife Louise for their 26th wedding anniversary and will miss the awards ceremony. This hot rodder knows what is really important, his family, and in return Louise encourages his passion for cars. Stephen Brooks of Old Town Sacramento, California, had one of the more appealing vendor’s booth, and explained how Coke machines are all original, because Coca-Cola will not authorize reproductions. He had a large and interesting collection


The prestigious Al Slonaker Memorial Award went to Jim Noteboom for this beautiful ’35 Ford Station Wagon.

of nostalgia artwork, pinball and slot machines, and handles the work of master sign artist Gerald Van Dyke, from Benecia, California. Jim Baker was on duty at the Cruisin’ For A Cure booth. The Cruisin’ For A Cure story is really a love story. Jim developed prostate cancer, and with the help and support of his wife, Debbie, made it into remission. So many other hot rodders didn’t survive this killer, and Debbie, a charming, beautiful and committed hot rodder decided to do something about it. The Southern Orange County Rod and Customs Car Club did a fundraiser and Debbie came up with the cause, to support the Jonsson Cancer Center at UCLA. The growth of Crusin’ For A Cure was impressive, and Debbie formed Hot Rods Unlimited, with 72 members, and she was elected the President of the group. The group helps to put on car shows at John Force’s events in Yorba Linda, and especially the Christmas program. HRU will assist with the 1st Annual Edelbrock Car Show, in Torrance, California, to promote research into autism, with Christy Edelbrock as chairman. On display was a ’32 Dearborn roadster with convertible top that will be raffled off at the upcoming Cruisin’ For A Cure, in September, at the Orange County Fairgrounds, in Costa Mesa, California.

Jim Baker was also a drag boat racer in the old NDBA (National Drag Boat Association) back in the 1960’s. He drove the Glasshopper, owned by Bill and Jim Thorn, with a Howard hull, 429 Ford c.i. engine and dual carbs, which they got out of a junkyard. Prior to that Jim raced motorcycles at Pomona and Santa Ana in the 1950’s. The Hotrodhotline booth was manned by Jack and Mary Ann Lawford, who came to the Roadster Show from Boise, Idaho. “The website has 40,000 viewers a day who visit the site and they read on average about 50 pages a day,” said Mary Ann. “They call this a sticky site, because once people log on they just can’t seem to break away,” she said. “That’s a million pages a day, and puts us number 1 among all hot rodding sites according to the ranking companies. Nielsen, Ranking.com, and Alexa.com are the rating companies that watch us,” added Mary Ann. “There are literally hundreds of millions of websites on the Internet, and out of all those millions we are ranked 77,000. To be ranked so high is a real honor, and we do a lot of heavy promoting, and car shows where the exhibitors drive their own cars to the shows,” she said. In Building 9 were the cars selected by a prestigious panel, supported by the Ford Motor Company and called the “Hot Rods and Horsepower, Ford’s 75th Anniversary of the Deuce.” The cars on display represented the most famous and beautiful 1932 Ford coupes, sedans and roadsters ever built and modified.

John Buck asked Von Hot Rod to organize and chair the 12th Annual Pinstripers Reunion. He was assisted by Bob Dority. Last year the pinstripers were in the Suede Palace with the Traditional Hot Rodders, but this year they were in Building four, the main building. The pinstripers gave demonstrations of their artistic skills and held an auction to benefit the House of Ruth, a halfway facility and counseling center for abused and battered women and children. Von Hot Rod opened up his shop Hot Rod’s of Norco, to do car building and restoration and develop a distinctive line of clothing, which his daughter Shelbey Valdez helps him with. To build the image and to bring in new artists into pinstriping, Von Hot Rod organized the reunion twelve years ago. It is by invitation only and some of the pinstripers attending were; Dave Whittle, Herb Martinez, Tom Kelly, Jimmy C, Wild Man (from Japan), Vandemon, Chick, Von Raven, Serrano, J-Sin, Doug Dorr and Hot Dog. The names sound edgy, and the tattoos looked ferocious but these talented men and women were some of the nicest and most kind-hearted people I have ever met. Mike Yoder and Ron Bontrager trailered their car all the way from Hutchison, Kansas. Mike builds hot rods and Ron owns a carpet company and does the flooring. Mike builds one special customized rod a year. They exhibited a ’35 Ford Pick-up truck, painted gray, with a wood floor paneling bed. “It took me 3000 hours, and I scrounged everything, or built it myself,” Yoder said.

Building 10 contained the Suede Palace, and contained Traditional Hot Rods, ratrods, suede and lowriders. Surrounding the Palace and outdoors, were large displays put up by Meguiar’s Car Care Products, Toyo Tires, Edelbrock and Brookville Roadsters.


Von Hot Rod in front of some of the pin stripers art to be auctioned


Mike Yoder and Ron Bontrager trailered their ’35 Ford Pickup truck all the way from Hutchison, Kansas. Mike builds hot rods and Ron owns a carpet company and does the flooring. Mike builds one special customized rod a year. “It took me 3000 hours, and I scrounged everything, or built it myself,” Yoder said. They captured a third in “Radical Custom Pickup”.

 Building 7 contained roadsters, station wagons, trucks, pick-ups, Nomads, sedans, convertibles, and vendors lined up around the wall, doing a thriving business. Barbara Baxter displayed a nice ’56 Ford F-100, black exterior, wood bed, with tan leather seats. The cab and engine compartment was almost completely chromed, giving a nice contrast with the black paint job. Jerry and Lynn Hornbuckle exhibited a ’55 Chevy Bel Air, with post. A fine ’37 Ford Coupe, owned by Richard Wakefield, was called “Out of the Blue.” Clint and Della Warren showed their ’72 Custom 10 Deluxe. A few cars from the 30’s and ‘40’s were intermixed with cars mainly from the 1950’s. Building 8 contained more ’32 Fords not included in the huge Ford Motor Company exhibit. The Petersen Automotive Museum had a huge booth. The PAM, as the Petersen is called, is an excellent automotive museum in West Los Angeles, California, that preserves the history and heritage of the car culture in American. The founders are Robert and Margie Petersen, and the director is Dick Messer, with Leslie Kendall as their curator. Bruce Meyer is the Board President for the PAM and one of the most important car collector and preserver of the car culture in the country. Steven Komondy displayed his ’32 purple/blue Ford Roadster, which was the 1957 NHRA Nationals BS/R Class winner. A rare ’32 Ford Roadster Pick-up, one of only 500 ever made, was shown by the America’s Car Collection. A cigar shaped ’32 Ford sedan, owned by Dave Bengochea, was raced on the dragstrips. It was a propane powered drag car originally built by Woody Eriksen and called the Winnemucca Propane Special.

Building 5 had later vehicles, including ’50 Mercs, coupes, muscle cars, and a ’68 Shelby GT350S.
Mark Giddings had a stylish ’57 Chevy 4-door Bel Air, in a multi-green metallic paint scheme, slung very low to the ground. There was one custom bike owned by Wayne Barretto with a deep copper chromed color. Building 6 had hot boats, pick-ups, trucks, coupes, muscle cars and a variety of vehicles and motorcycles. Jeff Niegsch showed his 1994 18 foot Bezer flatbottom. Tom and Janice Buckles exhibited their 1996 Barron Sprint flatbottom 2-seater, and a 1991 Bezer flatbottom. Jeff Wussow brought his 1911 Ford fire engine red touring car, with a Ford 2.8 liter V6 engine. The lights, knobs and other hardware were gold chromed and contrasted with the red paint job. Chuck Tummino displayed his 1936 Benzino Roadster. He built this car from the ground up. The body was a three quarter size ’36 Mercedes 540K, with a custom made frame. The grill was hand made and the car took 8 years to build. Tummino showed the car at the San Francisco Auto Show two weeks ago and the Grand Nationals was his second car show. The color is flaked Benzino pearl, with polished stainless steel pipes and engine headers. The body is supported by interior wooden frames. The Upholstery was done by Jerry’s Upholstery in Medford, Oregon. There were two soap box derby cars, altered and modified by J.R. Ceccheti and his son on display. They were made for the Arroyo Grande (California) Big Ditch Derby. J.R. is a car and hot rod builder by trade, and at 35 is too old and big to race one of these cars. He built them for others in the event and for his son Bryce, who is 7 and will be able to race them next year. Arroyo Grande, which means Big Ditch in Spanish, has been holding these races for five years and about 25 participants take part. The kits are ordered from the Soap Box Derby, and are fiberglass with thick wood flooring, and standard hardware and weights. McKenzie “Mac the Knife,” an 8 year old, is one of the drivers. She is a friend of Bryce, and the next Derby will be held in the fall at the Harvest Festival.


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