c J Wagner-20221001_144453-02112-Goodguys 1st Meguiars So-Cal Nationals—Americas Favorite Car Show-customs+lowriders+autocross+Nitro Thunderfest+models+awards-R3-8050-6in x 300dpi

Goodguys Meguiar’s So-Cal Nationals — America’s Favorite Car Show

Goodguys — America’s Favorite Car Show — returned to the Del Mar Fairgrounds for the second time this year, on Sept. 30 through Oct. 2, complete with a new name: the 1st Meguiar’s So-Cal Nationals, presented by BASF. While much had remained the same, there were a few significant changes, too.

Goodguys was founded in Northern California in 1983 by cool-car enthusiast Gary Meadors. A national series of hot rod and custom car events began soon thereafter, in 1987. Gary customized his first hot rod — a 1947 Plymouth — at the age of 16, cutting its factory coil suspension springs to make it sit low to the ground — a look that typified the style that his cars would become known for, a look represented in his most recognized hot rod, his bright yellow 1932 Ford Tudor — “the centerpiece of the Goodguys logo since 1987” (https://www.good-guys.com/info/about-the-goodguys).

Sadly, Gary passed away in 2015, but his legacy lives on with “Gary’s Pick,” a Special Award presented to a vehicle that Gary might especially like. “Gary’s Pick” at the 1st So-Cal Nationals was awarded to the 1953 Packard of Scott Melcer, from Encinitas, CA.

“Gary’s Pick” — 1953 Packard

There was, as always, much to see throughout the open spaces and spacious exhibit halls of the sprawling Del Mar Fairgrounds.

Have dog, will travel!
Remember these from really old cars? This is a “pop out semaphore turn indicator.” The owner (from Del Mar) of this 1955 VW Bug is cupping his hands around it to show that it is lit. It rises electrically when the turn signal lever is depressed.

Wherever you might go, cool cars and trucks would compel you to stop, see and, at least in my case, take pictures of them.

I mentioned earlier that there were some changes at this event, as compared to those of past Goodguys events in Del Mar. The most noteworthy of these changes, for me, was in regards to the Goodguys Autocross.

For many years the autocross had pretty much been on the same challenging, quick course, and surrounded by intimidating concrete barriers. I’d run this course for many years on “All-American Sunday” in my stock, evil-handling, 2011 Ford Mustang GT. This course had a challenging combination of esses, very tight turns and straight bits. If you drove in to the turns too quickly, the result could be an up-close-and-personal encounter with the concrete barriers — an occurrence that had happened several times over the years (but thankfully not to me!). Coincidentally, I happened to be recording video and documented one of the most serious of these collisions with a video of the custom pickup truck’s entire, truck-destroying run (124,000 views to date), at the first of this year’s two Del Mar Fairgrounds events. To see that, click on the YouTube video link midway through “AutoMatters & More” 736, at: https://automatters.net/goodguys-del-mar-nationals-part-one-the-autocross-slow-down-to-go-fastends-with-a-crash-captured-on-video/.

This time, at the 1st So-Cal Nationals and perhaps in response to the crashes and the vehicle carnage that resulted from them, the autocross organizers changed not only the course design, but also moved its location to a different part of the paved fairgrounds.

Whether the new course is better or not is up for debate, but it certainly appeared to be safer. Take a look at my photos of it and decide for yourself.

Other exciting action at the So-Cal Nationals featured the Goodguys Nitro Thunderfest, where loud, fire-breathing dragsters entertained cheering crowds…

… and the tire-smoking Burnout Competition.

An entire exhibit hall was dedicated to the PPG Lowrider Palace, filled with spectacular, beautifully customized lowriders.

Outside, cruising up and down the boulevard, several lowriders demonstrated their hydraulics-enabled hopping.

I especially enjoyed seeing the beds of custom pickup trucks lift up and gyrate in all directions.

Another part of this Goodguys event that changed was moving the scale models exhibit to its own, enclosed area. Here, master modelers displayed examples of their work, and kids could “Make & Take” their own free model.

Other highlights included numerous vendors…

… a swap meet…

… a “Cars for Sale Corral” and, to wrap up the weekend, the procession at the presentation of the awards.

After the show ended on Sunday, members of a car club arranged their customized rides for some spectacular group photos.

For more information about Goodguys car shows, including the full schedule of events; issues of the beautiful online magazine, classifieds, membership, gear and more, visit https://good-guys.com. Also, enter the keyword “Goodguys” in the Search Bar on the “AutoMatters & More” Home Page (https://automatters.net).

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 © 2022 by Jan Wagner – AutoMatters & More #762r3

Jan Wagner


  1. David Sperry on October 5, 2022 at 2:43 pm

    Jan, I now see that the gentleman is holding the pop up indicator while it is still attached to the car. Did you just add the descriptive caption or am I going bonkers? David.

    • Jan Wagner on October 5, 2022 at 4:25 pm

      Sorry David, but you are going bonkers, as am I — but I did add that caption after your question asking about it. 😀

  2. David Sperry on October 5, 2022 at 9:04 am

    Jan, I can see why the GoodGuys So-Cal Nationals is such a popular car show. Nowhere else in the world can you see so many customized American cars, with other attractions like the Autocross and model cars to go along with it.

    I can’t quite see what the gentleman in the straw hat and multi color shirt is holding in his hand. Do you know?

    • Jan Wagner on October 5, 2022 at 11:07 am

      I’m glad that you asked, David. I’ll probably explain that in an accompanying photo caption.

      According to the owner of this 1955 VW Beetle, that is a “pop out semaphore turn indicator.” You may have seen those on really old cars. He was cupping his hands around it to show that it was lit. It electrically moves up when the turn signal lever is depressed.

      You’re not the only person who was intrigued by this photo. The Coast News was too — so much so that they will be publishing this photo on the front page of their next issue of their weekly newspaper!


  3. Michael Fishman on October 5, 2022 at 6:40 am

    Awesome pics and coverage Jan. I remember when you used to make car models from shirt cardboard when you were a kid. Always fascinated me that you had the patience and skill to make amazing models.

    • Jan Wagner on October 5, 2022 at 11:16 am

      Thank you Michael.
      Do you remember us each making a 1:12 scale model of a Honda Formula One race car in the attic of your house? Believe it or not, I still have mine.

      However, my model-making skills were much less than those of some of the volunteers working the model-making exhibit at the Goodguys car show last weekend. Their painting skills, in particular, were absolutely fantastic. I always tried to rush the job and used so much paint at once that it ran. The key is lots of very light coats. One of the model makers there said to add a clearcoat after doing that. Also, he does not use Testors glue. Do you remember using that, in the orange and white tube. He uses some kind of cyclo-whatever cement, instead.

      However, what really blew me away was when that volunteer told me about all of the auto racing events he has been to around the world, and that he was an invited guest with Christian Horner of the Red Bull Formula One team.


      I remember that I once made a model of a mini-sub dispatched by the submarine SeaView (from the Irwin Allen sci-fi T.V. show “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.”).

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