The Grand National Roadster Show (GNRS) is one of the most iconic car shows in America. For people who love the concept of a "Hot Rod", GNRS is Mecca. Originally the "Oakland Roadster Show", it was moved to Pomona, California in 2004, and has been held on the last weekend in January for 70 years making it the longest continually running indoor car show in the World!
More than just an amazing car show, there is an intense competition to choose "America's Most Beautiful Roadster" or "AMBR". The coveted 10-foot tall AMBR trophy has been awarded to the car that is critically evaluated by a panel of judges.
I was ignorant of this event until introduced to it by Bill Goodwin back in 2009. Back then Bill worked for a national technology firm from his local office in Maryland. Somehow Bill always needed to come to Southern California to visit with an important client, or go to some essential technology training, or he would invent some other excuse to be here in late January. After Bill joined the BSYAWYD fraternity, he began taking me to the GNRS shows regularly with him. Instantly I loved it!
This tradition, started by Bill, and extended by Don Kingery and Dan Schrokosh (who went with me in 2011 and 2012), has now been solidified by Mike Reeves. Mike now comes to the house at 5:30 AM on the last Saturday in January driving his meticulously constructed 1932 Ford Roadster and together we head off in the darkness for Pomona. We have been to GNRS in 2015, 2016, 2018, and again this year.
Mike's car is looking and running as good as ever!
Because Mike displays his car, along with about 800 other people, he gets preferred parking and we get to enter the event before others. The day is spent looking at all the cars in the outside display areas, admiring the cars that were "entered" into the show and are parked indoors (another 600 cars), visiting the vendors selling everything imaginable for Hot Rods, and, of course, "people watching"!
But our top priority is seeing who can guess which car will win the AMBR award. This year there were 14 contenders. Mike and I chose different cars.
My favorite was this 1934 Ford.
Mike's favorite was George Poteet's 1936 Ford Roadster. As Mike looks at each entrant with his trained eye he explains the finesse that each builder has exercised in the artistic creation. He is able to see so many things that most people would never note; things like extending the doors or engine compartment, sculpting and shaping the fenders or body, incorporating rare or unique parts from other cars of the same vintage, and many other subtleties.
As Mike justified his reasons for choosing the 36 Ford, on more than one occasion he pointed out the one-off wheels!
When we were finished looking at the AMBR contestants we visited all the other buildings. Each year I especially like seeing the Corvettes. Here is a sampling of my favorites!
By 3:00 PM we were Car-Show-Exhausted and headed back to San Diego. It was another great day with a terrific friend.
On Sunday night the AMBR Award winner was announced. In 2015 I had correctly guessed the winner. This year Mike's choice, the 1936 Ford, won!
Thanks, Mike, for a great time!