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Grand National Roadster Show kicks off in California

Fri, 28 Jan 2011

History continued today at the Fairplex in Pomona, Calif., as the 62nd annual Grand National Roadster Show opened its doors for the weekend.

Twelve open-topped hot rods will vie for the title of "America's Most Beautiful Roadster" and the right of their owners to scratch thier names onto the accompanying nine-foot-tall trophy. A few minor tweaks to the rules will make this year's judging something new. Entries must be shown for the first time and there will be a little less emphasis on chromed lug nuts and more on "beauty."

"You might not need a gold-plated carburetor to win," said past winner Roy Brizio.

Of course, the problem is always that beauty is in the back seat of the beholder and what's beautiful to one guy might be gaudy and tacky to the other 99 percent of the population. So expect the usual whining and outrage when the winner is announced Sunday night at around 8 p.m. We'll be there. (We pick the purple 1923 Ford Roadster "The Takeout T" to win, with the 1918 Dodge "Rattlesnake" and 1933 Ford roadster "Double Dozen" to place and show. But we've never picked a winner in the last 15 or so years, so look instead for the Double Dozen to win. Or some other car that didn't even blip our radar.

But in the meantime, there is the usual ton of great stuff to see other than the 12 potentially most beautiful roadsters. Packed into the nine buildings and the sprawling Fairplex grounds are literally hundreds of cool cars.

Here are some highlights, building by building.

Building 3 has roadsters, courtesy of the LA Roadsters, what show owner John Buck calls, "Diversity, everything from (cars that run on the) salt to high tech."

Building 4 is where those 12 AMBR hopefuls are parked around the nine-foot-tall trophy, as well as about 40 or 50 other cool cars and a host of T-shirt vendors.

Building 5 has "a ton of new kustoms."

Building 6 has a somewhat smaller collection of motorcycles than in the past but will be augmented by still more kustoms and Courtney Hansen signing autographs Saturday and Sunday.

Building 9 is where the 75 most influential kustoms of all time are parked. They looked pretty cool. We especially liked the Hirohata Merc which, we hear, is even for sale now, asking price $1 million. Saturday at 3 p.m. will see a visit to Building 9 by hot rod heroes George Barris, Dean Jeffries, Gene Winfield and Sam (father of Chip) Foose.

Building 10 will once again be the Suede Palace. In previous years it has been crammed full of rat rods but this year saw almost all customs. Does this indicate a trend? Are rat rods through? Go out and start a rumor!

At the adjacent NHRA Motorsport Museum on Saturday at 4:00 there will be a panel discussion by four members of the original Low Flyers Car Club, which launched the careers of many great rodders.

Other Details:

-- The Pinstripers Reunion is Friday and Saturday in Building 4.

-- The cruise through the Fairplex grounds will be Saturday and Sunday, with over 700 cars driving low and slow.

-- And the Trophy Girl Contest is Saturday at 7:00 p.m. in Building 9.

-- The show runs all day for three days. Comb back your DA, exit the 10 freeway at Fairplex drive and go north.

By Mark Vaughn