meet. A good representation of roadsters are also on display, especially those cars that have come a long way to be exhibited. We went on Friday and toured the pits and the vendor’s area and leisurely talked to the vendors before the flood of spectators arrived for the weekend show. The basic L. A. Roadster Show formula is well known; swap meet, specialty car parking (including sedans and coupes), vendors and exhibitors. But every year there are new cars, people, vendors and swap meet goers with a story to tell. This year presented a number of new people who brought their business to the show, but sadly a number who found the business climate too much to bear and closed their business. With few exceptions, this recession has seen sales tumble 25% and more and has forced automotive businesses to cut costs and struggle to survive. Racing and hot rodding is a resilient sport and the people are tough and will find a way to get through this cycle of adversity.
Roger and I arrived on Friday and the first thing we noticed was the line-up of cars waiting to get into the swap meet area. We met old friends, Fabian and Alex Zardi who were driving the Hop-Up magazine delivery van. Fabian, who is from San Diego and who went to Bonneville with me several years ago, also brought the Bean Bandit streamliner to exhibit. It has a 4-banger in it and ran 139.8 to set the class record at the 2008 Speedweek. Fabian told me that Joaquin Arnett, the club founder, was in the hospital with pneumonia and we all wish him well. Roger and Sharon McPeeters, from Sonora, California also came to the show in their ’32 Ford sedan. The McPeeters were volunteers at Black Rock Desert in 1997 during the Noble/Green/Breedlove “Duel in the Desert.” They manned their post in the desert, providing security for the two teams and earning a special place in all land speed racing fans hearts. Mark Woody came from Henderson, Nevada to exhibit his ’47 Ford Sedan delivery. This is his first time exhibiting at the L. A. Roadster show. The volunteers at the Specialty Parking area waved hello and we went over and re-introduced ourselves. They were Norby Saavedra, Mel Taormino, Dick Bergren, Bob Goodwin, Dick Anderson and Bill Krebs. The Specialty Parking area gets you up close to the swap meet and cars for about the same price or less than regular admission and paid parking. But you have to have a neat looking car from the past. John Marchman and Tommy Jackson came from Houston, Texas to show their ’32 Ford. This was their 8th time at the show.
We drove past the swap meet area and the Specialty parking and into the vendor’s area. Vickie Tann was setting up her area for spectator ticket sales. All the jobs are assigned to members, family and friends of the L. A. Roadster club. They work this event with zeal and pride. Everyone has a job and a duty and they work hard to make this a great event for hot rodders. Roger Fulmer is the Vice-president of the club and the Co-chairman of the show. His wife Janet is his valuable assistant. “I’m a third year member of the club. To be a member a hot rodder has to live within 200 miles of Los Angeles, attend the meetings, work in the event and own a roadster,” said Fulmer. “There are only 30 members in the club and we keep it small, but we have associate members and our wives and friends help us out,” he continued. “We have assigned a special place this year for ’33 and ’34 Ford roadsters, in honor of their 75th anniversary of their 40 series model. There is also a new nostalgia dragster and Cacklefest event where they light up their engines for the crowds. We have about the same number of vendors as last year, but many of them are new to the show. On Sunday we will have Traditional and Suede cars on display, but please don’t call them rat rods,” Roger concluded. I wandered over to the official club souvenir booth and spoke to Candy Mason, a busy lady in charge of the booth. “We have new items this time. We have hanging metal clocks, signs, t-shirts, pewter objects and other merchandise. We haven’t seen any decline in sales so far,” Candy added. Next to the souvenir tent was Andy Brizio T-shirts. Andy makes and sells T-shirts for the L. A. Roadster Club and other main events. “We stay with Andy Brizio out of the loyalty he has had with our club all these years,” said Jack Stewart. Tradition, loyalty and respect mean a lot to hot rodders. His son, Roy Brizio, builds custom made cars and roadsters and they come from the East Bay in San Francisco.
An interesting, energetic and friendly man is Dave Schaub, who lives in Los Gatos and drove down for the show. He hasn’t missed a show since he first attended one in 1999. Schaub is on a mission to drive his roadster on a tour of all 49 Continental states in just 9 days. His roadster already has 60,000 miles on it and he expects to put another 10,000 miles more on this trek. He’s doing this to raise money for the Ronald McDonald house and his trip begins September 9, 2009 in Needles, California. He has planned out the trip to the minutest detail and miles. From California, Schaub will barely touch Nevada, then into Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, the corner of Kansas, across Missouri, then south thru Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas. From there he loops around Mississippi, then Louisiana, back to Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Florida. Dave has to average 1100 miles a day and he has a team in place to gas up his car, do repairs and handle public relations when he reaches certain stops. From Florida he resumes his trip through George, the Carolinas, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and Delaware. Because of the traffic congestion, Schaub plans on driving through all of the Northeast states during one night, starting with New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont. “I’ll have people waiting at the toll roads to wave me through without stopping and a great road crew,” said Schaub. Still, sitting for 16 hours a day for 9 straight days will be a huge challenge. “I’m up to it,” he told me. “I’ve been in training, averaging six hours a night so that I can be ready for the run,” he said. From Vermont, Schaub will cross New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana and Illinois and finally leave the Great Lakes region for the Mid-West.
A zigzag route will take him through Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, the Dakotas, Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Idaho, Oregon and Washington. The final leg of his journey takes Dave across British Columbia to Hyder, Alaska and the end of his cross-country trek. To pledge a donation, go to www.49in9.com. Dave has been walking 30 miles a day and getting used to the grueling conditions that he will be facing. Sid Chavers did his upholster and top. Golden States Foods is the chief sponsor and co-sponsors are American Infrastructure, Edelbrock. Dave has done the Louisville to Gallup run in two days and has led as many as 30 cars in tours from California to Canada. I stopped to say hello to Rich Guasco. He has been drag racing since 1951 and is one of the true hot rodders. His roadster was called Pure Hell and it campaigned against Pure Heaven, Winged Express and other altereds. “We won the ’70 Springnationals and we carried a champagne bottle to celebrate on the track. Your father made us pour the wine out on the track. I’ll never forget that. He was always concerned about our image.” Roy Brizio and Sid Chavers are from the Santa Clara area and were part of a 30 car contingent from that area. Roy and Andy Brizio hold a special open house on the Saturday before Mother’s day that is famous among hot rodders. Al Vonderworth was from the Joker’s car club and they have 50 members, many of whom are attending the show. They formed in 1957 and this is their 52 year. Ed and Cindy Dillard own “Remember Then,” a nostalgia sign company. Ed was putting up his signs. “I’ve been selling metal signs for 15 years, but this is my first time as a vendor at the L. A. Roadster Show,” he told me. “I sell at 40 or more shows a year and my business has been fine even during this recession. If people want something they’ll buy it. I have all kinds of reproductions, including WWII, Aviation and pin-up girls. Everything that I have is priced low, under $35,” he added.
Art Alvarez, owner of Alvarez Illustrations & Design, from Crestline, California was selling at his first show since the 1980’s. With him were Tony and Amanda Alvarez. He airbrushes customized hot rods on shirts and hot rodders brought him a steady stream of business as we spoke. Art is hoping to do the posters for the next Grand National Roadster Show in 2010. “I worked at Disney from the 1980’s to this year, but the times are such that I need to branch out,” he said. His shirts run $50 for a custom drawing of your hot rod. His website is www.Adesign2000.com. A fan favorite is Mighty Image out of El Cajon and this is their 2nd show for the L. A. Roadsters. Running the booth was George, Brandon and Keith Munday, from Pomona. They are now selling their signs as a licensed distributor through the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum. Their prices run from $20 to $110. The next booth was Mitzi and Co, founded by Mitzi Valenzuela Cardenas. A complete article on Mitzi can be found on www. Hotrodhotline.com/guest columnist/Richard Parks. Mitzi created her own style of pin-up art in the hot rod culture and many other photographers have copied her methods. She has created a new book of her art. Covern Art Works is owned by Steve Covern. Debbie Dance was also in the booth, and he has been exhibiting at the show for 10 years. His style is acrylic and water color and his lithographs sold for $125, while the original paintings can go up to $3500.
Jack Stewart and Sally Bolen stopped by to give me a ride in their cart. Jack’s job is to take care of the VIPs and Media and he treated Roger and me as if we were special. He took us to see Don Wilson, who has been in the club since 1975. Don’s job is to make up the programs and sell the ads and his programs are some of the best I’ve ever seen. He gave us the spiel, “We give free admittance to those who drive their roadsters to the show, plus a guest, hats, programs, BBQ dinner and the traditional Pewter Mug.” Wilson continued, “The club formed in 1957, we held our first show and swap meet in 1960. I have 10,000 programs printed and all roadster drivers and fathers get a free program,” Wilson continued. “For general admission we charge $15 for adults, $8 for general parking, specialty preferred parking is $15 and a swap meet space is $60 and is 15x20 feet for two days,” he concluded. A welcome face was Diana Bergren, who delivered water and snacks to the volunteers at the show. Diana is the wife of member Dick Bergren and she has been driving the refreshment cart since 1984. She told us that any profits from this year’s show will go to charity. This year it will be Beacon House in San Pedro. Another respected team member is Pauline Stecker and she is in charge of the volunteer’s lunch room. The ladies who volunteer for this duty serve 100 or more people during the three days of the show. They normally serve breakfast and lunch and Pauline has been the boss lady for the last 8 years. Joanne Krebs is the assistant lunch room supervisor. That day they were serving salads, sloppy joes, egg salad sandwiches and an Italian deli. Nancy Herbert, wife of Bill Herbert, has worked the lunchroom ever since her husband became an associate member 34 years ago. We met Jerry Cogswell in the lunchroom. Jerry is an associate member, and has raced roadsters since the 1950’s. “I had a blower on my car and the cops didn’t have radios back then,” Jerry reminisced.
Lee Kasabian and Mort Smith were also in the lunchroom enjoying a hearty meal before resuming their duties. Lee has been a member for 35 years and comes from Torrance, California. He works at the Specialty Parking gate. Mort has been a member for 11 years and lives in Thousand Oaks, California. His job is Roadster Registration. It takes a long time before one of the 30 members resigns or retires and an opening becomes available in the roadster club. Then a long list of applicants are reviewed and the club decides on who their next member will be. Others at the lunch room included Gina and Steve Murdough, Karen Dyar, Carl Maurizi, Sherry Goodwin, Lee Titus and Tex Cox. Lee has been a member for 30 years and Tex for 24 years. Gina, Steve and Karen became volunteers because of Bob Dyar, who has since passed away. I had to talk to Bob McCoy, the hot rod and oval track racer who has become one of the pre-eminent racing artists of our generation. McCoy has exhibited his art at the L. A. Roadster show for 15 years and comes from the San Diego county area. He does about four shows a year; The Grand National Roadster Show, L. A. Roadster Show, Goodguys being just a few. “I’ve been an artist for 68 years, ever since I was four years old. I used to make up my own toys, since we didn’t have much in those days. I raced sprint cars and midgets in the CRA, URA and other leagues,” said Bob. Lynn McCoy, Bob’s wife, was so impressed with his life and clippings from the newspapers that she spent years on a book of his life. The book’s title is Circle of Impact: The True Life Events of a Brave Action Figure. There is a forward by Parnelli Jones, who raced against McCoy, and 400 photographs. The book is spectacular with cloth binding and a hard cover on excellent coated bond paper. The price is $50 and is a quality coffee table book, a rich racing history and an interesting story of a man who led the way in oval track racing, both as a racer and as an artist.
I met Craig and Kimberly Cherry, who drove their 1936 Ford Roadster from San Ramon. They first came to the roadster show in 1974 and this is one of a dozen shows that they attend each year. A regular vendor is Brooks Novelty Antiques and Records, owned by Steven and Samuel Brooks, who have a shop in Old Town Sacramento. They specialize in vintage and original machines, such as pinball, jackpot, coke machines, bar stools, phones, candy, jukebox and collectibles. They told me that their business has stayed steady through the recession. The next stop was Ron Main’s booth. He was only there to sell off the collectibles from his shop that he couldn’t store any more. And what a collection he has. Main is also a land speed racer, movie and Hollywood artifact collection and president of the Sidewinders car club. He is also a good friend to everyone in the racing and hot rodding community. His collection is to simply die for. Where he found the time, money or effort to collect all of his treasures is a question only Ron can answer, but it is a tremendous trove of history. Main told me about his streamliner, The Speed Demon, which will make its 3rd visit to Speedweek at Bonneville this August. He’s gone 390 mph with a 4 cylinder engine and he feels confident he will break 400 this time. With him were Ed Horton, Gary Thomas and John Aitken, who help crew on the car. I talked to Ken and Priscilla MacDonald, who own California Roadster Company, which is located in Paso Robles, California. They have exhibited at the show for 12 years and do about 6 shows a year. They especially like the Grand National Roadster show, Blackie’s, the NSRA show at Famoso in April, the Goodguys in Pleasanton, the L. A. Roadster Show, and the Sacramento NSRA Show. They have sold 8 of the new Brookville coupe bodies so far.
Jay Ohrberg took some precious time to give me some information. Jay purchased Hot Rod Memories from Ron Martinez recently. Jay is from Oceanside and has other businesses, including Mr Roadster, which makes car parts. He also owns Jay Ohrberg’s Hollywood Cars. Jay has 50 cars which he rents out to the movie studios. His cars have been on Johnny Carson’s Show, Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous and in movies. In 1969 he set the world’s fastest time in the Gas Dragster class, speeding to a time of 160 mph at 9.26 ET at the World Series of Drag Racing at Cordova, Illinois and won the race. His new company sells old movies that feature hot rods, cars, girls and gore, the staples that we all grew up on during the 1940’s, ‘50’s and ‘60’s. Ohrberg has about 600 titles and I watched as he filled the long display cases with movie after movie. They cost about $20 each and are on DVD and VHS, but they are worth it if you have to have that special hard to get and often rare film. He plans on doing about 10 shows a year and selling through an internet website. I’ve reviewed a few movies for Hot Rod Memories and will do more if Jay would like me to. I wandered down the rows and passed Egge, Street Rod Glass, Inland Empire Driveline, and Custom Hot Rod Builders. Blackie Gejeian was in his cart and by this time my feet were killing me. I asked Blackie how much he wanted for the cart and he told me I didn’t have enough money. He was right. Blackie is truly one of the gentlemen of hot rodding. Other vendors were Walden Speed Shop, Lime Works, Moon Eyes, Hurst Performance, Edelbrock and Gale Banks Engineering.
I came upon a tent called Vendors Registration, supervised by Lynn Houchin and assisted by Jerry Enders, Bill, Greg, Kyle and Larry Houchin. When the member goes to work, so does his family. Doyle Gammell came by to check on the status at the tent, but it was getting late and the vendors were packing up for the night. We left the show and headed for the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum, a hangout for all the hot rodders. Julie Hisel and Sherry Watson greeted us warmly and gave us an update on the displays at the museum. The displays are changing all the time so as to give us a good history of drag, oval and straight-line racing. Julie has a clothing line that she created for the ladies who want something a little more comfortable and fitting. She calls her line Nitro Diva and Digger Diva. The Museum also has a car show on the first Wednesday’s of each month, from April through December. The Cal-Rods car club volunteer to help the museum put on the show and it is a good one.