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Gone Racin’ ...to see John Buck

Gone Racin’ ...to see John Buck
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Gone Racin’ …to see John Buck

The Grand National Roadster Show has a storied history. It is often called the Oakland Grand National Roadster Show where it first opened 56 years ago, by the founders, Al and Mary Sloniger. Sloniger created a vintage car show in 1949, but was short on entries and he asked his friends in the area if they would bring their cars to fill out the empty spaces. They showed up with some beautifully customized hot rods and the fan interest eclipsed that of the other cars. Creating the Grand National Roadster Show in 1950, it has attracted the best and brightest talents among hot rod and roadster enthusiasts. Although the term “hot rod” was not used, that’s what they were, and today the name is held in high esteem. Over the years the Grand National Roadster Show has moved from place to place, and the original owners have sold the Show to others. In 2004, Ted Cyr brought the GNRS south to the Los Angeles County Fairplex, in Pomona, California. His intentions were to bring the GNRS back to the area where much of the hot rod craze began, over 80 years ago. Southern California embraced the GNRS with enthusiasm and zeal. The next year the GNRS increased to 5 buildings and there was a large contingent of racecars and customized motorcycles. Ted and Charlene Cyr felt the time was right to turn the event over to a younger man and sold the GNRS and their other 3 car show events to two young men, John Buck and Kevin Wilson.

John purchased the GNRS and the Sacramento Autorama, while Kevin bought the Portland Rod and Custom Show, and the Seattle Roadster Show.

John Buck is a local car enthusiast who brings a great amount of zeal and love for hot rodding and custom car building. He has the experience of a savvy promoter, having worked for the Los Angeles County Fairplex, in their contracts department. He knows what it takes to put a show of this kind on, and how to bring it in under cost. But more than his ability to promote shows is his curiosity about the sport, and his love of its history and heritage. Once prodded, he couldn’t stop
as he explained who did what and where at the Grand Nationals of the past. “It is our history,” he said, “and it belongs to all of us.” Having a promoter who carefully eyes the bottom line is important, but this young man is out to remake the GNRS and make it more user friendly to the exhibitors and the fans. He intends to enlarge the show, and has increased the numbers of buildings he has rented. “Six in 2006, and 7 in 2007, etc". Fast forward to 2013 with 9 buildings. This young man is burning with enthusiasm. “I’m going to increase the attendance,” he said, referring to the needs of the vendors, whose support of the GNRS is vital to its success. “I’m going to listen to their needs, and what they want is what they will get.” Buck is also interested in the needs of those who exhibit their cars. The facility that he has chosen is one of the best around, and he has kept the price of admission low.

“I want to honor everyone who ever owned or built a hot rod,” he said. He has plans for a banquet to honor those who have set the standard in customizing cars and roadsters. He is also mindful of the history of the show and those who have participated in the past. “I want people to come up and tell us what they did, and I want to spend time and learn,” he said. “I’ll make time for everyone, and I want them to feel like this is a family affair to bring their children to and remember the past.” Buck is trying to have an entire building just for the customized motorcycles. Last years GNRS had a considerable number of outstanding bikes, but this year he wants to expand and grow on that success.

Also in his plans is a special building and exhibit space for the Rat Rodders (Now called the Suede Palace) and their unique way of understating the beauty of the hot rod. He is aware that there are many who love the enameled colors that fade into each other, and the chrome that makes a car ethereal, but there are also those who love the stark beauty of the rat rods. The 64th Annual Grand National Roadster Show is scheduled for January 25-27, 2013, at the Los Angeles County Fairplex, in Pomona, California.