The Celebrities

The Celebrities

Try as I might, I don’t play into the whole celebrity thing. From a young age, my parents and grandparents taught me that people are just people, and chances are they don’t want to be treated any differently than anyone else. No special service. No perks. Hell, I don’t feel right asking anyone for an autograph. Maybe I’m just weird?

Although I can’t recall ever being star struck, I can say—without a shadow of a doubt—that I was awestruck when I walked into the Model A room at the Grand National Roadster Show last month. As soon as I pushed through the double-doors, I felt the hairs on the back of my neck raise and my heart start to race. So much, in fact, that I actually walked out and walked back in a second time to experience it all again. The people around me thought I’d lost my mind, but I didn’t care.

In I went, eyes darting around the room. There I saw Thunder Rod, NieKamp, 22 Jr., Jake’s Tub, Jake’s panel, Emperor, Ala Kart, Mickey’s Mouse, Braga, Williams Brothers, Pollard…everywhere I looked I saw Model A’s that I had previously only seen in two dimensions. These historic hot rods weren’t on phone screens or centerfolds. They weren’t injection molded in styrene and assembled with shaky hands on kitchen tables. Instead, they were there—really there—for me to pore over inch by inch. I could see the details and figure out what it was that made them stand out, both then and now. A few were borderline perfect, yet most of them weren’t. I liked that.

Were they giving out trophies in the Model A room? Your guess is as good as mine. It doesn’t matter, really. For this was one of the greatest gatherings of traditional hot rods I have ever encountered. I was on a tight schedule, so I didn’t get to stay in there long. But for the moments I walked that dimly lit hall, I felt that I was surrounded by greatness. I’m not one to change my stance, but this was truly a group of celebrities—and I was just lucky to be there.

***

The 2019 Grand National Roadster Show was the perfect place to continue my amateur film photography series, (in the spirit of my Bakersfield trip last fall). Using a simple rangefinder and expired 35mm color film, I tried to bring the show back to a simpler time. Most of these shots came from the Model A room, but I also snapped a handful around the Fairplex. Could I have used my DSLR? Yes. Would the photos have been better? Definitely. But this was a fun challenge tied into an excellent learning experience—and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Joey Ukrop

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