Everything seems better in the seaside village of Del Mar, 20-minutes North of San Diego. You’re on beach time here, where life’s worldly clamors tend to ease out of the mind. The ocean air, surf culture and the best hot rods in the West (and elsewhere) come together each spring for a beach party that would even make Del Mar Fairgrounds founder Bing Crosby rev his engine.
Del Mar Racetrack, and Fairgrounds was built by a partnership including Bing Crosby, actors Pat O’Brien, Gary Cooper, and others. The facility doors officially swung open in the summer of 1937, the same year Ford Motor Company would craft one of hot rodding’s most popular models. Much has changed since then, but much has also stayed the same. There’s a magic here like no other Goodguys event in the country and last weekend’s 15th annual Del Mar Nationals offered up three fog-free days of frenetic fun. Over 3,000 cars and thousands of fans made it a winning weekend!
The prevailing theme among those who build custom cars for a living is the Del Mar Nationals features the highest quality cars you’ll see all year. The event blends a top-level indoor show with a sprawling show & shine covering every acre of the seaside grounds. To give you an idea of the hardware on hand inside Pat O’Brien Hall, we saw the 2015 Ridler winner (Don & Elma Voth’s Foose-built Imposter ’65 Impala), Gil Losi’s Great 8 ’56 Plymouth, David Hoekstra’s Custom of the Year-winning ’56 Continental Mark II, and all of the Street Rod d’ Elegance contenders. Those rides plus about 165 other incredible machines make it a must-see event inside the event!
After narrowing the competition down to the top 5 finalists for Street Rod d’Elegance on Saturday (all of which happened to be Fords) fans got to see them sparkle outside in the Plaza de Mexico on Sunday. When the award ceremony concluded later in the day, it was Canada’s Randy Marston taking home the Goodguys 2015 March Performance Street Rod d’Elegance crown. His car, a perfectly proportioned 1935 Ford coupe by Roger Burman, showcased the popular builder’s penchant for shaping and restyling early Ford’s. Powered by a supercharged LS9 V8, it was also the spiciest sounding rod of the bunch!
Perhaps everyone’s favorite attraction here (and there are many) is the nonstop cruising up and down the Avenue of the Palms which cuts right through the heart of the event. It starts late morning, intensifies early afternoon then becomes a full-blown party after 3pm. It’s the coolest sight!
In 2011, the Goodguys AutoCross track was relocated from the back of the event grounds to its new home just west of the Exhibit Hall. Bigger and more exciting than ever (particularly in the PRO division), the action was non-stop all three days with Northern California’s Mikey Maier winning the PRO class title (56.967), fending off a fast & furious national field of challengers. Other winners included Jake Rozelle 58.531 (Street Machine), Wes Drelleshak 60.938 (Truck), Dennis Russell 61.550 (Hot Rod) and Kyle Tucker 58.643 (All American Sunday).
In closing, we’d like to tip our cap to three car clubs – all San Diego institutions! Our host club, the Over the Hill Gang – San Diego Chapter are some of the coolest and most helpful men & women you’ll meet. Thank you for helping us get everything done! We’d also like to thank each and every one of the San Diego Prowlers who came to the event as the featured car club, enthusiastically sharing their 7-decades of Southern California hot rod history with the fans. Finally, our gratitude goes out to the San Diego Woodies for making this year’s Good Wood gathering a termite’s delight with over 100 wooden wagons!
Look for full Del Mar Nationals event coverage inside the July 2015 Goodtimes Gazette.