Ed Justice Jr, President of the Justice Brothers Car Care Products, introduced me to The Great Reinero, who no longer does airbrushing for a living, due to an injured hand. He started in 1958, learning how to paint and airbrush from books and magazine designs and articles. When he was in school, he would use marking pens to make designs on T-shirts. “I smelled like ink,” he said. “I worked with Ed ‘Big Daddy’ Roth in the 1960’s and got inspiration from Dean Jeffries on how to use the airbrush on clothing, before silk screening became popular. I’ve sold toys and model car kits since 1992 and go to about eight car shows a year, but eBay is making it hard for me to compete,” he said. Frank Lopez sold Stacy Adams’ fine hats. “I do really well here and at tattoo, low-rider and hot rod shows,” he told me. Debbie Baker, the founder and soul of Cruisin’ For A Cure, told me about her upcoming car show. “We are raising money and awareness for prostate cancer research, a sometimes fatal illness that almost took my husband’s life,” she told me. The date of the show is September 27, 2008 at the Orange County Fairgrounds, Costa Mesa, California. For more information on this life-saving cause and excellent car show event, go to www.cruisinforacure.com.
Gabe’s Street Rod Custom Interiors is located in San Bernardino, California and attracted a lot of business. Next to Gabe’s was Scott Killeen’s ‘How to Build Your Books and CDs,’ an interesting concept for the car enthusiast. The next booth was www.chopperdolls.com , who sought to reach the ‘motor cult and Southern California hot dog Kustom art,’ with designs for men, women and children’s clothing. Their silk screened clothing also appeals to the motorcycle, drag racing and hot rodding crowd. The Great Reinero told me to go and see ‘The Giant,’ who is still air brushing. Tom Nye from Aptos, California, is indeed a very tall man, but his name is also appropriate to describe his skill as an artist and air brusher. He showed me some of his work, all original and crafted for the buyer. He started with the Great Reinero at the Grand National Roadster Show in 1968. “Silk screening came in, but it really hasn’t affected my business,” he said. “The computer is the cause for the decline in airbrushing. Ed Iskenderian came out with a design on t-shirts in the late 1940’s to advertise his cam grinding business, then Von Dutch in 1950 experimented with airbrushing. But the big innovator was Ed ‘Big Daddy’ Roth who really created the art. Roth made it a commercial and artistic success by the mid 1950’s,” said the Giant. Nye told me that it is more comfortable for him to paint standing at an easel and that he does almost two shows a month. “There’s big money in the computer graphics. That’s when they told me that I need to go out and get a real job, but I’m content with what I do,” said ‘The Giant.’ A really cool vendor is Eric Thorson’s www.neonsign.com, who sells neon signs and musical instruments. The signs sell in the five to six hundred dollar range and would look great in a garage. The Ragtime Instruments representative was there to assist Eric and show the Nicolodeon Orchestrian and Player Piano. They popped a quarter into the slot of the $34,000 Orchestrian and crowds gathered. Then they dropped a quarter in the piano. What an addition that would make at your party. The piano sells for $13,500, but if you have an old piano lying around and are handy with machinery, the actual mechanics are only $3100.
Don Montgomery rented a booth to sell his outstanding series of hardbound books on early hot rodding. Don fills each of his eight books with over 500 photographs and readable text and captions. For the fan of hot rodding and true lover of car history, these books are a must for your library. A number of artists presented their latest work, including Dwayne Vance and Tom Fritz. Vance has painted since 2000 and Fritz is one of the most successful hot rod and dry lakes racing artist in the field. Photographic art was available at Rick Ferreira’s ‘On the Spot Portraits.’ Rick has been making portraits of cars for over 30 years. He and his wife go to 38 car shows a year. He dashes out of his booth, hands out leaflets and takes orders, then goes back to the booth where he puts the photos on clocks, t-shirts and canvas. Tom Foltz represented NW Insurance, based in the Pacific Northwest. This was his 5th year at the show in Pomona and sells specialized car insurance to the classic, antique and hot rod car owner. “Always look for and ask for agreed value,” he said, “so that your payment for your loss will be what the car is worth. Buying cheap insurance from the big car insurance companies is expensive and they will only pay you what they pay non-classic cars. You could receive a $500 total loss payment on your prized ’32 instead of the thirty thousand that it is worth, unless you stipulate upon agreed value,” he stressed. Jesse Olivares and Ramon Santiago represented the K-Earth 101.1 FM Radio station, “easy listening for the ear,” they told me. They do ten shows a year, including the NHRA drag races in Pomona.
Darren O’Neill represented the Alsa Corp paint company, located in Vernon, California. Their display was huge and Darren took the time to explain the types of paint and how to use them to create an outstanding paint job for your hot rod. Dave Kurz is an artist who uses pastels to draw wonderful and nostalgic art work from photographs and his own research, with a little imagination thrown in. “I’m an old draftsman and I try to tell a story through my artwork. 80% of the paintings are done with pastel pencils and the rest is done with pastel sticks. It’s a style that I developed,” he told me. Paul Nesse has cast bronze sculptures for twenty-three years, making the typical human figurine, until someone asked him to do a bronze of his car. “I thought it was crazy, but one car led to another and now I specialize in cars. At first they were sporty European cars, and then I was asked to do a hot rod. Hot rods were always my first love,” he said. Nesse is from Stillwater, Minnesota, where he does his work. “It takes me six months to do the research, sculpting, bronze casting and finished painting,” he told me. His sculptures sell for around $16,000 and are absolutely outstanding. Paul and Terry Ward own Hot Rod Alley and specialize in hot rod decals, clocks, ‘hot rod girl’ t-shirts and magnetic jewelry. They are retired but enjoy going to all the shows and having their own business helps them to cover the cost of travel. “We’ve been doing this for thirteen years now and we go to about twenty shows a year. We love the Grand National Roadster Show and the promoter, John Buck, and his family. He’s been learning and perfecting the show. There are always things that can be done a little better and John is the kind of guy who will listen to you and improve on the event. We love him,” said Paul. As I walked away to see more cars, I felt the enthusiasm and the love that the vendors have for these car shows. They are fans of hot rodding and businessmen and they can tell you a lot about the shows if you listen carefully.
Gone Racin’ is at [email protected].