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Cars (and more) at the Fair – 2007
and “Fast Cars & Superstars”


2007 San Diego County Fair “Salute to HEROES”

Time sure flies. It has already been a year since I last wrote to you about cars at the San Diego County Fair, which is taking place now at the Del Mar Fairgrounds.

Once again there were some really interesting cars, as well as a parody on NASCAR stock car racing. I’ll tell you more about that later.

Unfortunately the popular Sunday “cruise-ins” have been discontinued. Before, on Sundays at the fair, car club members could meet at a certain time, cruise into the fairgrounds as a group and then leave their cars on display in a supervised section of the horse-race track while attending the fair. Automobiles are not permitted on the new, horse-friendly artificial track surface.

The San Diego Miata Club at the outdoor car show

As usual, my day at the fair began with the San Diego Miata Club. On Saturday, the lucky few of us who were quick enough to register for this annual event drove our Miatas to our usual meeting place at the Albertson’s on Via de la Valle. Then we paraded into the nearby fairgrounds, where we parked and displayed our cars by a busy walk-in gate. Visitors entering the fairgrounds were invited to vote for their favorite cars.

Car show award winners

Souvenir photo posters

A photographer took a picture of every car. Then, when we returned at the specified time to remove our cars, everyone was given a large, fair-themed poster of their car mounted on a foam core board. I have a collection of these dating back to the 2003 fair. The people’s choice winners won fair tickets and the opportunity to return with their car, along with the other days’ people’s choice winners, at the end of the show. Their prize also included an invitation to a special celebratory dinner.


MoPar muscle



The car show continued indoors, in the same area where bets are placed on sporting events. It was interesting to people-watch and observe the contrast between the bettors, intent on placing their bets, and the others who were just there to enjoy the vehicles on display.

Outside, fairgoers were dwarfed by a monster truck.



Since I am a NASCAR NEXTEL CUP fan, I especially enjoyed joining the other race fans in the grandstands to watch the exciting, action-filled pig races.

For the first time, earlier this year, I decided at the last minute to enter the fair’s annual photo contest, along with several thousand other photographers.

“Getting Around NYC” by Jan Wagner

I am proud to have been awarded a ribbon for my photograph of an unusual four-person cycle. I spotted it in New York City last year after I drove a smart car from California to the New York Auto Show (as documented in the AutoMatters column archives at I entered the photo in the Photojournalism “Features” category.

Eleonora Marston by her photograph

While there, I spoke with some of the other photographers at the show and admired their work.

Pebble Beach Beauty by Jan Wagner

I also took the opportunity to add to my knowledge of photography at some of the free digital workshops. I attended a Photoshop workshop and also learned about something called “Autosterioscopic photography,” which produces lifelike, three dimensional holographic photographs. This year there was a photo contest category for these images, which can be taken with a standard camera. To achieve the effect, photos are mounted behind readily available lenticular screens. For more information, go to

I ended my visit to the photography exhibits at the Artists’ Reception.

“Maloofallac” by Gary Clark

At a woodworking exhibit area, I was totally blown away by a work of art named the “Maloofallac.” This melding of a vintage Cadillac and a Maloof style, wooden chair, was created by Gary Clark. It was not for sale.

“1941 Hudson Surf Woody with Surf Board Trailer” by Russell W. Lougy

Elsewhere, there was a display of handcrafted, scale model Woody wagons and miniature surfboards.

Chevrolet returned with an exhibit of some of their popular vehicles. Simply by completing a brief electronic questionnaire, fairgoers can get a handy Chevrolet backpack. I used mine to carry my growing collection of stuff around.

One day is not enough to see everything. I ran out of steam and time, so hopefully I will be able to return another day. The fair encourages this by rewarding visitors with a gift certificate for a return admission ticket to the fair, in exchange for taking a brief survey at the “Welcome Center” (which is located just inside entrances to the fairgrounds).

That isn’t the only way people can get free admission tickets. I got two tickets when I entered the photo contest. Then I got in free because I entered my Miata in the car show. I also got a gift certificate for a return visit and, while I was walking around the grounds, someone handed me four more free admission tickets to the fair. You’ve got to love that. Free off-site parking and free transportation to and from the fairgrounds help make the decision to return very easy. The San Diego County Fair winds up on July 4th.

Now, on a completely different subject, I absolutely have to share something wonderful with you. I have been watching a short series of special programs on ABC television recently. It is called "Fast Cars & Superstars - Gillette Young Guns Celebrity Race."

The show is about a real-life competition between 12 music, entertainment and sports celebrities who have been invited to drive special NASCAR-like stock cars at very high speeds around Lowe's Motor Speedway – a high speed race track in Charlotte, North Carolina. They are coached by six “Gillette Young Guns” – popular, current NASCAR NEXTEL CUP race drivers including Kasey Kahne, Southern California’s own Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards. The half hour episodes are very exciting and some of the results have been surprising. The celebrities include singer Jewel, former NFL Super Bowl Champion John Elway, actor William Shatner and skateboarding legend Tony Hawk. You can read full details about this mini-series at

The final episode is scheduled to air on ABC on Sunday, June 24th, but don’t worry. As long as you are located in the U.S. you can watch all of the episodes online if you go to You don’t want to miss this. If the executives at ABC and Procter & Gamble (Gillette) are smart, they will bring this back again. If so, I hope that they create a series for journalists. Pick me!

Enjoy the full spread of photos from this AutoMatters and others in the column archives at  If you would like to share your car, truck, road trip, car art, vacations, racing, car movies, famous people, driving and other automobile-related stories, please send them to Drive safely and do join me again next time.

Copyright © 2007 Jan R. Wagner – #237r2 AutoMatters 

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