The Trials and Tribulations Of The GNRS: 2011

The Trials and Tribulations Of The GNRS: 2011

The bastards at United Airlines sabotaged my trip home. They listed “natural causes� as the reason for my canceled flight and resulting 3-stop nightmarish trip back to Austin.  Yeah, right. I think they are out to get me. I think they are all evil swine intent on ruining my entire day just to make their next five minutes a little easier to endure.

Regardless of who they are and what they are up to, I’m now on layover in Denver… Or maybe I’m in Boise? Salt Lake? Hell, I dunno. All I know is my ass hurts from sitting on the floor next to the only damned open outlet in this airport. I’m only sitting here so that I can fire up this laptop and write this article. It wouldn’t be so bad if my feet didn’t already hurt from walking around the incredibly expansive grounds of the GNRS this weekend.

Good god man… that was a lot of walking. If you haven’t been to a more recent iteration of the Grand National Roadster Show, just imagine playing 9 holes of golf on a course conceived of by a greens keeper bent on killing the poor souls who dare play it. Each hole is like a 1500 yard par 15 that is peppered with vendors selling bad hot dogs and $9 beers and each green is represented by a building full of cars – hot rods, customs, lowriders, 4x4s, motorcycles, Volkswagens, Mercedes, late-models, etc… You name it and they pack it in. And, of course, you can’t use a golf cart. Well, you can’t unless you steal one.

It’s pretty damned miserable. Really, it is.  Come to think of it, the folks that run this show must be in cahoots with United Airlines. They are both out to see me dead or, at the very least, really uncomfortable and broke.

The insanity of it all, however, is overshadowed by my own propensity to seek this kind of shit out and attend it. I mean, I’ve been to the GNRS nine or ten times and four out of the last five. It hasn’t really changed. It’s always pretty abject.  It’s three days of inconvenience, walking, reaching for your wallet, and all kinds of other stuff that I would just rather live without.

There’s just one thing though. In-between all of that horseshit there are about three or four hours of bliss that can’t be had anywhere else on earth. It’s like the GNRS is heroin. You deal with the bad complexion. You hide the track marks as best you can. You ignore the damage done to your body. You do it all for the high.

Yeah, I said it… The Grand National Roadster Show is heroin.

The high typically comes from two buildings every year. The first is the “Suede Pavilion� organized by Alex Idzardi. It’s a poorly named portion of the venue that you would think houses a bunch of unfinished and primered cars. It doesn’t. Rather, you mostly find a gathering of tastefully done traditional cars – some finished casually, others done to a level just as fastidious as the cars found in the more “serious� buildings of the show. If you can stomach the loud music and the occasional hipster bumping, this building is good for at least three hours of high.

The other heroin building is also organized by Alex. Every year, he figures out a theme for the building and then hustles his ass off stuffing said building full of cars you don’t get to see too often if ever. Last year, he focused on vintage race cars (I almost OD’ed). This year, he focused on vintage customs. It was a breath taking display of cars and the chance of a lifetime to see all of the greats together.

Why do I pay $9 for a beer, eat terrible cheeseburgers, and walk my ass off? Why do I work so hard to hide these track marks?

When the hell else will I have an opportunity to see cars like the Jack Calori coupe, the Pierson ’36, the Timbs “Streatable� streamliner, the Janich ’41, the Doug Rice coupe, and a ton of others? Much less, when else would I have the chance to see them all together? Never. And it’s an opportunity that my addiction simply won’t let me miss.


Assuming United Airlines doesn’t kill me with an incompetent pilot or a strategically placed peanut before then, I’ll see ya there next year.


The Jalopy Journal’s Best Roadster Pick

We had ten great nominations for this year’s award. I’m not ashamed of a single one of them. And the competition itself went right down to the wire. Steve Ernst and his Brian Bass built ’32 was neck and neck with Russ Freund’s t-roadster for the entire length of the voting period. It was so close, I was beginning to wonder what I would do if there was a draw.

In the end and after over 3300 people voted, Russ and his gorgeous little roadster took home the trophy (graciously made by Acme Speed Shop again).

Two observations:

1. Who knew a pinkish purple (lavender?) car could be so cool? Before the show, I looked at the shots of the car on the HAMB and was only mildly interested. I mean, I’m Mr. Black car… How could I dig a t-roadster in girly colors?

And then I saw it in person. That little car took my breath away. It was like a toy. No, it was like a piece of candy just waiting to be picked up and enjoyed. I fell for it right away. Gorgeous.

2. By the second day of the show it was pretty obvious that this was a two horse race between the Bass ’32 and Russ’ t-roadster. You could half way expect each to be giving the other the stink eye across the Fairplex. It didn’t happen… Instead the two competitors become pals. That’s rad gentlemen.


Special Thanks:

1. Alex Idzardi. As described above, the Suede Palace and the Custom Display were the two biggest highlights of the show for me. Alex put both of them together and he also made sure I was taken care of as a media guy.

2. All of the guys that were nominated for the TJJ pick. You fellas have incredible cars… Thanks for fooling me into thinking our award is important. It means a lot.

3. Keith Tardel. It’s good to have your brother around when you over indulge.


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