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The largest custom-car show in Southern California, the Good Guys Fall Nationals, attracted thousands of car enthusiasts to the Del Mar Fairgrounds November 22–24.

More than 1500 cars and trucks were on display, and the show included two buildings full of booths with car customizing accessories — everything from engines to replicas of old car steering wheels and dashboards.

During the show, on the southwest corner of the fairgrounds’ pavement, drivers and vintage cars took part in the “autocross,” a two-lap time trial in which drivers raced around a “racetrack” defined by traffic cones. A cache of tires, batteries, and auto accessories was awarded to drivers in four categories: Hot Rods (up to 1957), Street (manufactured after 1957), Trucks, and Professional class.


Good Guys Car Show, Del Mar

I got to hitch a ride with pro driver Tim McGilton in his 1970 Chevy Camaro. I was told to strap myself in very tightly into a five-point harness. The race officials laughed upon realizing I thought I would be able to hold my camera steady. Over the 60-second run, it wasn't the rate of speed we traveled at that got my heart pumping, but the power of full acceleration and then braking as we drifted around the corners.

Tim, his wife Deb, and their two street-legal race cars, (posing as cars one might drive every day) travel from their home in Wake Forest, North Carolina, to many of 21 Good Guys car shows hosted around the country.

Over at the show area, Jim Sartor from San Marcos showed off his immaculate 1950 Ford Crestliner. He said according to the various Ford clubs, there are only 87 running Crestliners in the country. I asked how much money he’s put into the car's restoration. After a long pause, he shook his head, begrudgingly smiled, and said, “Sixty thousand, but half of that is in the motor.”

He said he thinks it’s worth it because he enjoys the car shows and the camaraderie with the other car folks. “They’re just very nice people.” Jim attends up to 30 local car shows a year, sometimes three in a day.

Lisa and Paul from Mission Valley came to watch the time trials. Lisa saw a 1966 Chevy Chevelle Super Sport that she said she couldn’t live without. “I also can’t afford it,” she quipped.

The classic car cruise down the fairground's midway was a highlight of the show.

Dan and his 17-year-old grandson Lucas came from Escondido to look at the different types of custom cars for a possible “project car” for Lucas to restore. Lucas said he thinks he’s settled on Ford Mustangs.

“Any one from the 1960s,” said Lucas. Grandpa Dan got a gleam in his eye, knowing that Lucas would want his help.

Inside Bing Crosby Hall were 20 classic woodies, displayed as the ultimate all-American vehicle. However, one of the most photographed cars of the show was a VW bug with a camper conversion. It received the "Just Cuz It’s Neat " award.

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