Grand National Roadster Show opens in Pomona

POMONA, Calif. The /*L.A. Auto Show*/ it's not -- all the cars here are old, or sometimes new, but made to look old. It's the /*Grand National Roadster Show*/, which was held for decades in Oakland but moved south seven years ago to be near hot-rodding's birthplace.

"Sunny California. Home of racing. Home of the hot rod. Here close by the NHRA Museum and the drag strip where Wally Parks started it all," said Roadster Show spokesman John Buck.

The show takes up several buildings, and front and center are the contenders for the America's most beautiful roadster award, a gigantic sculpture that makes the Stanley Cup look like a Little League participation trophy.

So what does it take to build one of these show stoppers? Time, and money, and time.

"Thousands of hours, lots of man hours put into this car, not only by myself but all of my friends in my car club," said Russ Freund, builder of the "Takeout T."

There's rich hot rod history here. One entire building is filled with significant machines of the past, cars that many of us remember, if only from magazine articles or model kits. "Grooviness" transcends time.

Most of the cars at the Roadster Show are so shiny you almost have to wear sunglasses to look at them, but there's an exception in Building 10, affectionately called the "Suede Palace." Most of the cars there are un-shiny on purpose. They represent the not-so-fancy rides that real-life versions of "American Graffiti" characters might have driven. No money for paint, just dull primer. And younger trendsetters of today have discovered them.

"I got in this in the early 1980s with groups like the Stray Cats and the rockabilly whole thing, there was a revival. Now there's kind of like a second revival, if you will," said Alex Idzardi.

The Suede Palace is also about the accessories and costumes too.

But it's not all fun and games. How about 'rodders with big hearts? Master pin-striper Von Hot Rod will hand-paint stripes on anything you bring to his booth to raise money for the childhood disease Progeria.

The Grand National Roadster Show is open through Sunday at the /*Pomona Fairplex*/, 1101 W. McKinley Ave. in Pomona.

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