The Goodguys Del Mar Nationals, located next to the Pacific Ocean and under beautiful, blue skies, is always a great place to be to see cool rods and customs. This year there were over 2,700 of them, as well as plenty of opportunities to shop, look at exhibits, eat and enjoy some motorsports action.
The 2017 event exceeded all expectations. The experience for participants began with registration at the Del Mar Hilton. Outside, in the parking lot, beautiful cars were already on display in an informal show, with the hotel’s lush grounds and the deep blue San Diego sky providing a picture-perfect background.
On the Del Mar Fairgrounds, vehicles and numerous exhibits were displayed inside and outside large exhibition halls. Beneath mature, towering palm trees, vehicles slowly cruised back and forth between the buildings. Exhibits included everything from complete vehicles to auto parts, tools, car care products, souvenirs, cool car stuff to decorate homes and man caves, and more.
Thrilling motorsports action, in the form of autocrossing, entertained spectators. As I have done for the past few years, I looked forward to another opportunity to stretch my Mustang’s legs on “All American Sunday,” where participants may enter their post 1972 American made or powered muscle cars and trucks.
The first gear, single lap autocross was extremely technical and challenging, with lots of tight turns. Flying cones – and scuffed paint – were among the penalties for not getting it quite right. One vehicle was electric!
In past years the course used to include two continuous laps — making the most out of what is a relatively small lot. This was like I used to run long ago in Alberta, Canada. Our events were often held on shopping center parking lots, back when most stores were required by law to be closed on Sundays. These lots had limited open spaces, due to landscaping curbs, light poles and so forth, so we made the most of the space we had by running two or three laps on the majority of the course before turning out of that and heading to the finish line. Since we ran multiple laps, doing so enabled us to run more open, faster courses and still enjoy a reasonable amount of time out on course.
Of course running multiple, continuous laps is not without problems. In addition to the usual autocross challenge of not getting lost on courses that are temporarily marked by what, to some, appears to be a confusing sea of traffic cones, competitors must keep track of how many laps that they have driven. It may seem like an easy thing to do, but when you’re concentrating on the next turn and the one after that, it is easy to lose track of exactly where you are on course relative to the place where you must turn off for the finish section, and how many laps you have done.
One of my favorite vehicles on the fairgrounds was tucked away on the side of one of its vast parking lots. It was an upside down, lime green Chevy food truck, named the “Hawaiian Express.” Based in Chula Vista, CA, it serves as a fundraiser for MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving), and boy does it ever draw a crowd.
Its food truck body shell is literally turned upside down so that it looks like it is resting on its roof. Up above are four tires, as are mufflers, right where they belong. Other details include upside down mirrors, lights and license plates.
When the food service is over and its time to go, four electric jacks raise it, revealing that there are tires underneath, too – so that it can be driven away. It actually drives facing backwards. Otherwise its engine would have been right in the windshield.
The 17th Goodguys Del Mar Nationals concluded with a long procession of award-winning vehicles in front of the reviewing stand, as spectators lounged on the grass of the beautiful Del Mar horse racing facility. As each of the vehicles paused briefly for photos, they were described and awards were handed out.
The best of the best were saved for last, where one of the speakers was none other than Chip Foose. Bruce Wanta’s stunningly beautiful, ruby red “Mulholland Speedster” – which gives a nod to the 1936 Packard – took top honors: the Goodguys Del Mar Street Rod d’Elegance award.
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Copyright © 2017 by Jan Wagner – AutoMatters & More #483r1