GRAND NATIONAL ROADSTER SHOW -HISTORY & AMBR WINNER'S

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GRAND NATIONAL ROADSTER SHOW -HISTORY & AMBR WINNER'S
« on: April 23, 2014, 12:21:33 PM »
1999 Grand National Roadster Show - Golden Oldie
The Grand National Roadster Show Turns 50
From the February, 1999 issue of Hot Rod
By Gray Baskerville

Fifty years ago, Galard "Al" Slonaker, a veteran Bay Area car show promoter, assembled a collection of new cars and imports under the "International Car Show" banner and staged the forerunner of a hot-rod institution-the Grand National Roadster Show.

To broaden spectator appeal, Slonaker sifted in a handful of Bay Area track roadsters and hot rods. He even booked-in some SoCal heros, including a pair of George Barris-built customs as well as Stu Hilborn's lakester. "We didn't know rods from roller skates," remembered Mary Slonaker, Al's wife, "but people liked them so much that Al decided the next year to hold a hot-rod-only car show.

"Al was the idea man," added Mary, "as well as a realist. He knew using the term 'hot rod' was still a no-no, so he substituted 'roadster' and called his second venue the National Roadster Show." "That would change 12 years later," added Dain Gingerelli, who, with veteran automotive photographer Andy Southard Jr., has produced a work entitled Oakland Roadster Show: 50 Years of Rods and Customs.

The first all hot-rod show, held January 19-22, 1950, at the Exposition building in downtown Oakland, California, featured crowd-controlling ropes anchored by 55-gallon drums filled with water, calling cards from pigeons roosting in the rafters, and 100 cars on display-including Bill Niekamp's lakes-bred '29, which became the first America's Most Beautiful Roadster (AMBR) winner. Among the 27,625 attendees were Hot Rod's Bob Petersen, Bob Lindsay, Wally Parks, Tom Medley, Griff Borgeson, and Motor Trend's Walt Waron.

From 1951 to 1957, the National Roadster Show was dominated by highly detailed street-driven cars. Slonaker instituted a Custom d'Elegance award for the custom-car crowd as tail-dragging lead sleds were becoming an increasingly important part of the show. He developed new classes for street roadsters, coupes, sedans, customs (from mild to wild), lakes cars, speedway cars, antiques, and sports cars. By '53, Slonaker had instituted the People's Choice award, thus bringing spectators into the collective. He even opened up the show to controversies, such as the mysterious Tucker, and allowed motorcycles to mix with their four-wheel kin.

"Even though these cars were becoming more and more specialized," recalled Barris, "they still had to function under their own power. They had to have working accessories, although mufflers were optional. So the big thrill was when all the participants would fire up their engines at the end of the show and drive out of the arena."

During this six-year span, many of the people who would make a name for themselves in hot rodding began as spectators. Veteran fuel racer Rich Guasco remembers entering his '29 five or six times before he won the AMBR trophy in 1961. "After each show," recalled Guasco, "I would fix all the 'bolts-not-pointed-in-the-right-direction' boo-boos the judges would find. By '61, I had sort of worn out the judges." Art Himsl, the famed Bay Area painter, started as an onlooker and then began striping cars in '55 on setup day. Perhaps Blackie Gejeian, the leader of the Fresno, California, gang, set the tone for all subsequent Oakland shows in '53 when he chromed and detailed the entire undercarriage of his '26 T-bodied lakes modified. "When I heard they were having a car show in Oakland (in '49), I had to go. That first one really wow'd me, so I did another roadster. Three years later, I took it to Oakland and began putting my car on its side three or four times a day so the people could see the undercarriage," continued Gejeian, "but that wore me out." Later, he and Richard Peters removed a full-length mirror from a restroom and stuck it under Peters' new car.

Gejeian's influence had its effect. "The boys from Fresno-Blackie, Richard Peters, Charles Krikorian," remembered George Barris, "demanded that their cars be as nice underneath as they were on top." In 1957, Peters commissioned Barris to build the ultimate ragtop: a hybrid '27/'29 roadster pickup that would totally change the direction of the nine-year-old National Roadster Show. The Barris Ala Kart raised the bar out of sight.

The Ala Kart literally stood everyone on their collective heads. Guasco: "I had never seen a car like Richie's-so exceptional, so above the other cars." Gejeian: "It was so far ahead of its time that it totally changed the emphasis from hot rods to show rods. It was a styling exercise drawn up in a coffee shop. It mixed an airbag suspension with a totally chrome-plated undercarriage." Barris: "It started as a '29 roadster pickup with a back body section taken from a '27 T roadster. The grille shell, three-piece hood, and pickup bed were handformed from aluminum. All four Model A fenders were bobbed, V-pointed, and completely metal finished the same as the top side. Then we covered the Ala Kart with 40 coats of white diamond dust of pearl and projected scallops in 'kandy' cerise and gold leaf, augmented by Dean Jefferies' pinstriping." It was, as Grand National Roadster Show's Rick Perry said, "the first all-out attempt made at winning the AMBR trophy."

Until the appearance of Peters' Ala Kart, the National Roadster Show was populated by home-brewed, owner-built cars. Its advent hastened the demise of the hot rod and the emergence of the candy-coated, pearl-flaked, angle-haired show-mobile. According to Gingerelli, "Bay Area customizer Joe Bailon was among the first to experiment with various paint systems in an attempt to achieve the same tone and texture as found on the deep, translucent color that gave the candy-covered apple its name. Meanwhile, the paint companies were offering quality gold powders, toners, and metallic mixers, so when Bailon dumped some powder into a can of Sherman-Williams maroon toner, he stumbled on the candy color."

By the '60s, the Oakland Roadster Show was an institution. Its original 4-day schedule had risen to 10 days, and the Fresno connection continued. Krikorian gave Barris the go ahead to build another show winner. Barris responded with the "Emperor." The 11th annual show (1960) was also mistakenly called the 12th. That would be corrected 25 years later.

The '60s, and its excesses, became the "experimental" era in more ways than one. For instance, the 12th Annual National Roadster Show featured two experimental cars-Andrew DiDi's X-61 dream car and Barris' XPAK 400, a collaboration that rode on air rather than rubber tires. Perry remembers the XPAK 400 being positioned on the floor over a war surplus parachute. "They would start it," said Perry, "and the vehicle would rise off the ground blowing the parachute. It was great!"

In 1961, after three years of eye-peeling, Barris-built glitter bugs, Rich Guasco took home the sequoia-sized trophy with an ultra traditional '29 roadster. To add yet another form to the mix, Bob Tindle, of Portland, Oregon, displayed his flopper-style '32 sedan powered by a front-mounted blown Olds. The hinged body tilted up from the front, neatly predating the Funny Car-style by seven years.

For 17 years following, the various AMBR winners would reflect the experimental concept pioneered by Barris and Peters. Jerry Woodward would display his Vortex X-1970 in 1962. Ed "Big Daddy" Roth, whose monster Ts were the rage, was asked by Slonaker to clean up his grubby act. The head Rat Fink replied by appearing in tails and a top hat over his usual mufti-an old pair of Levis and a well-worn t-shirt. Although Barris won with his "Twister T," a relatively sedate '27 T ragtop, Oakland was becoming Grand National Roadster Show "biz" big time.

During this time, Slonaker created the Tournament of Fame and awarded the winner a trip for two to the Paris Auto Show. Bill Cushenberry and his "Silhouette," bubble-top experimental-formed from 20-gauge sheetmetal and powered by a Buick engine-won the initial prize. The show was also becoming further out, as LeRoi "Tex" Smith nailed down the 9-footer with his Steve Swaja-designed XR6 '27 T-bodied roadster. Even the AMBR trophy, which was awarded to the current show owner, Don Tognotti, and his '14 T in '64, reverted to Carl Casper's "Ghost," a fanciful apparition powered by a two-stage blown Poncho in '65. In '66, the AMBR trophy went to Don Lockey's Barris-built T.

In '67, Slonaker moved the event to the Oakland Coliseum. Bob Reisner entered his two-motor "Invader," which illustrated how far America's Most Beautiful Roadster had strayed. Undoubtedly, Oakland was becoming Hollyweird. These wackos-which ran the gamut from a Chrysler-powered commode to a Lancia-powered wheelbarrow-generated the term "odd rod" and further illustrated the excesses of the '60s. Reisner's Invader was a repeat winner in '68 when the twin-engine "Phantasee" shared honors with Joe Wilhelm's "Wild Dream." Art Himsl took home the gold in '69 with his buggy-like "Alien."

Augmented by steam- and electric-powered record-breakers, the odd-rod element continued into the early '70s... but the AMBR trophy went to a real hot rod, created from one of Andy Brizio's "Instant T" kits. Andy had been building and entering these 'glass-bodied, Dragmaster-chassied, blown, Chevy-powered Ts since 1966, but they lacked what Himsl called "the essential ingredient." So in '70, he made Brizio a deal he couldn't resist. "You can win if you leave that roadster with me," Himsl told Brizio. Brizio built a nice car, but he didn't like 'goofy' paint jobs. Himsl changed all that with one of his patented, eyeballs-out creations.

Eventually, the success of Brizio's T lead to a number of like-bodied AMBR winners-Lonnie Gilbertson's candy red '23 T ('71), Chuck Corsello's T-bucket ('73), Jim Vasser's tall '14 T tub ('74), Lonnie Gilbertson's '23 T ('75), Bob Sbarbaro's '26 T touring ('76), and Jim Molino's '23 "Candy Man" ('77). Only John Corno's Russ Meeks-engineered rear motor, rear opening '30 A roadster was decidedly "different."

The two biggest changes to affect Oakland in the '70s were Slonaker's failing health (which forced his retirement in '73) and the subsequent sale of the show to Harold "Baggy" Bagdarsarian, Darryl Starbird, and Bill Roach. Roach sold his share to Starbird the following year, and Baggy created the Al Slonaker Award for best in class. A strict disciplinarian, Baggy formulized the show-20-percent late models, 20-percent red cars, 20-percent customs, and so on, giving pace to the presentation. The third big change occurred in '78 when Phil Cool won the AMBR with his blown Deuce highboy, thus returning the "prize" to normalcy.
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TS3X65MPH

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Re: GRAND NATIONAL ROADSTER SHOW -HISTORY & AMBR WINNER'S
« Reply #1 on: April 23, 2014, 12:32:00 PM »
National Roadster Show 1950
The first annual National Roadster Show was held January 19-22, 1950 in Oakland, California. In the beginning the show was better known as the Oakland Roadster Show.
 
America's Most Beautiful Roadster
Bill NieKamp's 1929 Ford Model A Roadster
The NieKamp Roadster was conceived in 1949, when Bill NieKamp was a middle-aged man playing a young man’s game. Forty-three years old at the time, he set out to build a hot rod he could enter in car shows and race at Southern California’s dry lakes.

A body assembler and painter at the Plymouth factory in Long Beach, California, NieKamp bought a 1929 Model A roadster body for $15 and channeled it over 1927 Essex frame rails. NieKamp performed most of the work himself, using very basic techniques.

Whitey Clayton fabricated the bellypan, hood, and track nose, while NieKamp made the floorboard and nerf bars. Under the hood, NieKamp installed a 1942 Mercury flathead V-8 with Evans heads, a Weiand intake manifold, a Winfield cam, and a pair of Strom­berg 97 carburetors.

NieKamp kept close records along the way, and the sum cost of the project came to $1,888.72.

Before NieKamp raced the car, he showed it at the inaugural National Roadster Show in Oakland, Califor­nia, in lakes trim with a passenger-side tonneau and no windshield. The meticulously built rod won the first America’s Most Beautiful Roadster award.

NieKamp raced the roadster at El Mirage for three seasons, culminating with a run of 142.40 mph in July 1952. Soon thereafter, he turned down a $2,800 offer for the car, opting instead to raffle it off to benefit a racer who had been seriously injured at Bonneville.

The winner of the raffle, a young soldier named Dick Russell, drove it as his daily driver and raced it at the Santa Ana Drags before selling it to Delmer Brink in 1958.

Brink decided to swap in a Buick nailhead engine, but never completed the work, and sold the car to then Rod & Custom associate editor Jim “Jake” Jacobs in 1969 for $1,300. Jake, who had recognized the car as the very first AMBR winner, restored it in a 1971 series of articles in the magazine.

Jacobs’ efforts made the NieKamp roadster the first historic hot rod to be restored, a practice that would come into vogue 20 years later.

After the flathead Jake installed died in 1975, he replaced it with a 265-cid Chevy V-8. The small block remained in the car until 1997, when the roadster was invited to compete in the first Hot Rod class at the 1997 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.



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Re: GRAND NATIONAL ROADSTER SHOW -HISTORY & AMBR WINNER'S
« Reply #2 on: April 24, 2014, 12:10:10 PM »
1951 WINNER RICO SQUAGLIA'S 1927 FORD
WAS ON THE COVER OF HOT ROD SEPT.1951

Track nosed 1923 Ford Model T Roadster owned by Rico Squaglia. According to the September 1951 Hot Rod magazine feature about the car, it was powered by a Mercury Flathead V-8; however, according to Rico’s son, Rick, and the car’s current owner, Carter Fisher, the car did not have an engine when it won the award. Harry Westergard made the tracknose and hood for Rico’s roadster. The car was finished in flame red.
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Re: GRAND NATIONAL ROADSTER SHOW -HISTORY & AMBR WINNER'S
« Reply #3 on: April 25, 2014, 11:05:34 AM »
1952 AMBR WINNER BUD CRACKBON'S 1925 ROADSTER
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Re: GRAND NATIONAL ROADSTER SHOW -HISTORY & AMBR WINNER'S
« Reply #4 on: April 26, 2014, 10:41:59 AM »
1953 WINNER DICK WILLIAM'S 27 ROADSTER
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Re: GRAND NATIONAL ROADSTER SHOW -HISTORY & AMBR WINNER'S
« Reply #5 on: December 18, 2014, 05:37:21 PM »
Since the GNRS is coming up,I thought I'd add afew.
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Re: GRAND NATIONAL ROADSTER SHOW -HISTORY & AMBR WINNER'S
« Reply #6 on: December 18, 2014, 05:38:44 PM »
1954 AMBR WINNER FRANK ROSE'S 1927 FORD.
1927 Ford Model-T Roadster built and owned by Frank Rose of A & R Auto Mart in Oakland, California. Frank spread no expenses to make his roadster everything he wanted. The frame was constructed 2 1/2” diameter 125” wall chrome-moly tubing. The front axle was a chromed Ford tube axle, which was used in some ‘38-’39 Ford standard models, and quite a few Canadian Fords. At the time, tube axles were extremely hard to find and very popular among the hot-rodders, most of the tube axles seen on roadsters from this period were often converted Chrysler units. The wishbones were handmade and mounted on Ford truck tie rod ends, these wishbones resembled the type used on most race cars at the time. Everything removable on the front end was chromed, including axle, spring leaves, spring perches, shackles, shock absorbers, wishbones, backing plates, spindles, tie rod, drag link, spindle steering arm, shock arms, Nerf bar, headlight brackets, and grille.
The grille was hand built from round stock and chrome plated. The front and rear bumpers were hand made from steel, thickwall tubing and then chromed. The steering column was from a 1951 Ford pickup truck unit. This resulted in a very short drag link, but gets the box out of the way of the engine. Often in a car with a small engine like this, the steering is usually interfere with the left head or part of the exhaust system. The differential of the roadster carried 3.78:1 gears which coupled with the 7.00-15 tires, making a good combination for town use, not to high and not to low. Zephyr gears were used in the column shift transmission as well. Ford Houdialle shock absorbers were used all the way around. The engine in Frank’s roadster was a V8 with Weiand heads, dual Weiand manifold, Winfield cam, and a converted Zephyr dual ignition. The engine had to be set well back in the frame, which helped the handling qualities. Due to the low engine compartment, the radiator had to be cut down. To solve the cooling problem, a new radiator was made with a four inch thick core.
The body on Frank’s T roadster was completely worked over by Jack Hagemann of San Leandro, California. Jack smoothed out the body and made many additions formed by hand from sheet stock. The fenders, bellypan, instrument panel, hood, deck lid, and the panel below the deck lid was hand formed from aluminum. Pontiac taillights were set in the rear panel, in a position that was well protected by a tubular bumper. Hall Upholstery stitched up a new interior in two tone blue. The dashboard was hand-built as well, and featured seven instruments, including tachometer, speedometer, ammeter, oil pressure gauge, temperature gauge, gas gauge, and vacuum gauge. A spring steel race car type steering wheel was adapted to the Ford steering column. Once all the bodywork was done, it was painted jet black lacquer. The car was pin-striped white and blue by no other than Tommy the Greek. From Kustomrama Wikipedia

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Re: GRAND NATIONAL ROADSTER SHOW -HISTORY & AMBR WINNER'S
« Reply #7 on: December 18, 2014, 05:48:36 PM »
How it looked when it won in 54.
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Re: GRAND NATIONAL ROADSTER SHOW -HISTORY & AMBR WINNER'S
« Reply #8 on: December 18, 2014, 05:55:06 PM »
1955 AMBR WINNER'S RAY ANDEREGG'S 27 ROADSTER & BLACKIE GEJEIAN'S 1927 ROADSTER "FIRST TIE".
1927 Ford Model T Roadster built by Merced Valve Burners member Raymond Anderegg currently of Los Gatos, California. Raymond started this car at the age of 14 in Merced, California in 1950 by cutting the top off of a 1927 Ford Model T coupe and purchasing a 1941 Mercury for the chassis and engine. The body was channeled 4 inches and featured a suicide front end. Both doors were welded to the body. The Mercury mill featured Offenhauser heads, a Edelbrock three-pot manifold, Harmon & Collins ignition, and a twelve-pound Weber flywheel. The transmission was from a 1939 Ford. The body was painted with yellow lacquer paint and the interior was done in yellow and white.[2] The car was finally finished late 1954 just prior to Ray entering the Army. His brothers and friends entered the light yellow roadster in the Grand National Roadster Show on his behalf and were there to accept the big trophy. The win was the contests first recorded tie, as he tied with Blackie Gejeian’s 1926 Ford T. The car was featured in numerous magazines and books. It was sold in 1960, went through several owners who changed the car then finally dismantled it. Ray found the car’s body and frame in a garage in the California bay area, and rebuilt it, updating its look to a more modern street rod look complete with Porsche Guards Red paint. The car was sold to a private collection in South Carolina. A clone of the lime-gold version (1959-1962) was built by an artist/pinstriper (Von Franco) in 2000, and a version of the yellow 1955 AMBR winning roadster is being built by Ray’s relatives. FROM Kustomrama Wikipedia

Blackie Gegeian’s 1927-T, known as the Shish Kabob Special for its rotisserie show display that was used to manually flip the car, showing off the chromed undercarriage. FROM Greg Wapling

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Re: GRAND NATIONAL ROADSTER SHOW -HISTORY & AMBR WINNER'S
« Reply #9 on: December 23, 2014, 09:54:02 AM »
Thanks for all the great history on the GNRS Beppie! Hoping you & the family have a Merry Xmas! Thanks for posting.
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Re: GRAND NATIONAL ROADSTER SHOW -HISTORY & AMBR WINNER'S
« Reply #10 on: August 04, 2015, 09:22:44 PM »
Thanks for all the great history on the GNRS Beppie! Hoping you & the family have a Merry Xmas! Thanks for posting.
Thanks Duane.I think this is when I left the site.
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Re: GRAND NATIONAL ROADSTER SHOW -HISTORY & AMBR WINNER'S
« Reply #11 on: August 04, 2015, 09:31:11 PM »
1955 WINNER BLACKIE GEJEIAN'S 1927 ROADSTER FIRST JOINT WINNER.
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Re: GRAND NATIONAL ROADSTER SHOW -HISTORY & AMBR WINNER'S
« Reply #12 on: August 04, 2015, 09:41:49 PM »
1955 AMBR WINNER RAY ANDEREGG'S 27 ROADSTER FIRST JOINT WINNER.
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Re: GRAND NATIONAL ROADSTER SHOW -HISTORY & AMBR WINNER'S
« Reply #13 on: August 04, 2015, 09:48:17 PM »
1956 AMBR WINNER EDDIE BOSIO'S  32 FORD FIRST DEUCE TO WIN Photo by Courtesy of Jeff Freitas
WAS VIC EDELBROCK’S DEUCE

FROM Kustomrama Wikipedia
1932 Ford roadster purchased by Vic Edelbrock in 1938. Vic and Tommy Thickstun designed the Thickstun manifold in able to increase the performance of the car. Vic was unhappy with the performance and decided to design one for him self. This manifold is known as the Slingshot. The Slingshot proved to be a hit. Vic became a constant winner on the dry lakebeds with his modified roadster reaching speeds of 112 mph. Other racers were taking notice and becoming impressed with Vic’s consistent wins. The requests began to roll in for his modified parts opening the doors to his first Speed Shop.

The car was later sold to Eddie Bosio of San Francisco, California. The car had by June 1957 recieved a 1951 Ford flathead featuring lakepipes. 1941 Oldsmobile bumpers were installed, and Burbridge Plating Company of San Francisco made a curved windshield for Eddie. The gas tank supports were chromed and cycle fenders were installed. 1939 Ford taillights were installed in the rear fenders. The roadster won America’s Most Beautiful Roadster title at the 1956 National Roadster Show in Oakland, California.
The car is still around, restored to its first version. The paint was done by Darryl Hollenbeck of Vintage Color Studio, Concord, California. Was restored back to when Vic owned it by Roy Brizio Street Rods.
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Re: GRAND NATIONAL ROADSTER SHOW -HISTORY & AMBR WINNER'S
« Reply #14 on: August 04, 2015, 09:55:36 PM »
1956 AMBR WINNER EDDIE BOSIO'S  32 FORD FIRST DEUCE TO WIN.
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Re: GRAND NATIONAL ROADSTER SHOW -HISTORY & AMBR WINNER'S
« Reply #15 on: August 04, 2015, 10:00:26 PM »
1957 AMBR WINNER JERRY WOODWARD’S 29 FORD ROADSTER.
FROM Kustomrama Wikipedia
Jerry Woodward of Provo, Utah. The car, known as “Thunder Rod”, was completed in 1957. The build took two years and $5000 USD to complete. Dual headlights were fabricated from 4 inch spotlight casings and fit with 5” Jeep sealed beams. The stock grille shell was retained, the grille however was made from a chromed refrigerator tray. The entire suspension was chromed, and the wheelbase was shortened to 96 inches. To utilize maximum leg room, Jerry kicked up the front of the frame 4 inches. The rear end was Z’d 14”. A 1940 Ford dashboard was cut to fit the car. Dice motif was used on the gear shifter as well as the radio knobs. The steering column was from a Corvette. The car was powered by a 1947 Ford engine, bored 3 3/8”, and stroked 4 1/8”. C & T Automotive balanced the entire assembly. The valves got their lift from a Potvin 400 Super camshaft. Spark was provided by a Harman & Collins magneto. Once completed, the car was pinstriped by Tommy the Greek. Dean Jeffries painted a mural on the glove compartment. In 1957, Jerry won the prestigious “America’s Most Beautiful Roadster” award with Thunder Rod at the Grand National Roadster Show.



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