02167-20230401 Goodguys Meguiars Del Mar Nationals-hot rods-customs-lowriders-street machines+Goodguys Autocross—Del Mar Fairgrounds-R3

Goodguys 40th Anniversary celebrated at the Del Mar Nationals

It is hard to believe that it has been 40 years already, but 1983 is when Goodguys founder Gary Meador welcomed auto enthusiasts to the first Goodguys event. As President Marc Meadors tells us, back then street rods and custom cars were gaining in popularity, in part fueled by the insatiable interest of Baby Boomers as they approached middle age. Goodguys welcomed cars and trucks from the ‘50s (and soon the ‘60s), as well as pre-1949 rods. In the following years, resto rod ‘70s and smooth, Boyd-influenced ‘80s were added. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, traditional-style hot rods and customs made a comeback.

As the years pass and automobiles evolve, no doubt even more new categories of vehicles — including electrics! — will make their mark.

The Goodguys Del Mar Nationals hosted over 2,500 rods, customs, classics, muscle cars, imports and trucks through 1998 (there is a rolling 25-year eligibility cutoff).

One of the many good reasons why Goodguys keeps returning to the Del Mar Fairgrounds is because of the great Southern California weather. This year, once again, Mother Nature did not disappoint.

Since the vehicles typically are driven and are not just for show, cruises were held in conjunction with the Goodguys events, and continue to this day. The Del Mar Cruise took place on Thursday, the day before the activities began on the Del Mar Fairgrounds.

It is always best to get there early in the weekend for the Swap Meet, where everything from automobile parts to automotive memorabilia, and even complete (or somewhat complete) vehicles are offered for sale.

I especially enjoy seeing the lowriders on display in the Lowrider Palace, and cruising up and down the boulevard between the exhibit halls and the grandstand building.

On Friday and Saturday, vintage dragsters were fired-up for the Nitro Thunderfest, to complement the nostalgic musical entertainment in the Plaza De Mexico. On Saturday there was an exciting, tire-smoking burnout competition. Children were entertained and kept busy on the weekend with arts & crafts — including a free scale model Make & Take, prizes and more.

Also on Saturday, each participant in the specialty parking areas was given a commemorative dash plaque. Categories included Air-cooled, Homebuilt Heaven, Tri-Five Chevies, Deuce Doins, Camaros, Corvettes, Mighty Muscle, The Next Generation, Ya Gotta Drive ‘Em, Trick Trucks and Good Wood (classic woodies).

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The Goodguys CPP Autocross Series ran all three days, as hot rods, tricked-out trucks and muscle cars competed on the challenging, tight course adjacent to the show car parking area. Spectators enjoyed the action from grandstands as, one-at-a-time, the drivers explored the limits of handling, acceleration and braking to try to score the best times in their respective classes, without incurring time penalties for displacing the traffic cones that delineated the course and marked the apex points of the turns. On Saturday afternoon the autocross featured four 4-car “Duel In Del Mar Shootouts,” as the drivers competed for the top honors.

Sunday at the autocross was “All American Sunday,” where entry to participate in the autocross was opened up to all years of American made or powered cars and trucks. I used to enter my Mustang GT in that event. I even spotted the rebuilt pickup truck that I happened to have had captured in a video as it spectacularly hit the wall head-on while competing in the 2022 Goodguys Del Mar Nationals. That event turned out to be the last time the autocross was held on that course, in that part of the parking lot. You can see that video, and read about it and more, in “AutoMatters & More” number 736, at https://automatters.net/goodguys-del-mar-nationals-part-one-the-autocross-slow-down-to-go-fastends-with-a-crash-captured-on-video/.

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Vendors display all sorts of merchandise, both indoors and outside.

Sunday was the day of the Winners’ Circle, where the awards included Goodguys Builders’ Choice, Meguiar’s Street Rod d’Elegance, Goodguys’ Pick, Muscle Car of the Year, Truck of the Year Early, Dakota Digital Truck of the Year Late, Griot’s Garage Muscle Machine of the Year, Vintage Air Custom Rod of the Year and Fuel Curve Custom of the Year.

For information about upcoming Goodguys events across the U.S., visit https://www.good-guys.com.

To explore a wide variety of content dating back to 2002, with the most photos and the latest text, visit “AutoMatters & More” at https://automatters.net. Search by title or topic in the Search Bar in the middle of the Home Page, or click on the blue ‘years’ boxes and browse.

Copyright © 2023 by Jan Wagner – AutoMatters & More #789

Jan Wagner


  1. Michael Fishman on May 21, 2023 at 1:10 pm

    Awesome vehicles. Thank you for sharing

    • Jan Wagner on May 21, 2023 at 10:28 pm

      You’re welcome, Michael.
      In case you tried visiting earlier in the week, GoDaddy was experiencing technical problems that scrambled my website and others. Hopefully they’ve fixed all of the problems.

  2. David Sperry on May 21, 2023 at 5:46 am

    I do see two different blue pickup trucks doing the Autocross. The yellow photo is so good that I thought it was a promotional poster.

    • Jan Wagner on May 21, 2023 at 9:36 am

      Thanks. The reborn blue pickup is also the one being worked on in the pits.

  3. David Sperry on May 20, 2023 at 5:11 pm

    Jan, I remember you covered two GoodGuys shows last year. I believe the first show ended with a blue pickup truck crashing into the barriers.

    You have so many great photos that it’s hard to pick favorites. The 11th photo is one of them. It’s an unidentified matte finished maroon coupe that looks like a highly customized 1949 Ford. I recognize some of the body lines because my first car was a high mileage 1949 Canadian Ford, badged as a Meteor.

    I also like the last photo… the yellow poster says it all. I’m happy to see your website is back to normal, and hope none of your valuable credentials have been removed. David.

    • Jan Wagner on May 20, 2023 at 6:19 pm

      I included photos of the blue truck in this year’s show. I assume that it was rebuilt rather than replaced.
      The photo at the end is actually a tightly edited photo of the back of a Goodguys car show semi-trailer truck. I used the top 2/3 of that photo for the opening teaser image.

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