Retro Ramblings – “Loyalty”
One of the first things I noticed when I came to work for Goodguys in the fall of 1990 is how loyal everyone was to each other and what a tight-knit fraternity hot rodding was. Goodguy Gary was very close friends with guys like Bill Burnham, Andy Brizio, Boyd Coddington, Barry Lobeck, Pete Chapouris, Jim McLennan, Chuck Lombardo and also media guys like Tom Medley, Tex Smith, Gray Baskerville, Pat Ganahl and Brian Brennan. There was a genuine kinship and a lot of mutual support back then. The hot rod guys supported Gary as a promoter, Gary supported the car builders and gave them good reason to show off their cars at his national events, the manufacturers supported all of them with parts and booth space, and the media guys covered it all in full color. The scene was thriving in the early 90s; the only difference today is the players have changed.
The one who Gary credited having the biggest influence on the early days of Goodguys was Boyd. Gary decided to leave NSRA in 1986 and launch Goodguys. Several key events transpired during that separation, one of which included Coddington.
When Gary struck out on his own, the trepidation was real – so many unknowns, mainly “will the Goodguys event series fly?” Naturally, the old establishment was wary of a new series of events. Hot rodders, manufacturers, builders and fans deliberated on whether they should support Meadors and Goodguys. Many whispered, “he’ll never make it.” Thank God there wasn’t twitter or Facebook back then. Could you image the social media smack talkers casting doom and gloom on someone trying to make a new scene and give people an alternative playground to show off their wares? It would have gotten ugly.
But Boyd Coddington chose to go with Meadors. They had known each other for a long time and “spoke the same language” when it came to how a hot rod should look. Together, Gary and Boyd came up with the idea to have Boyd select the top ten cars at the biggest Goodguys events. These awards were to be called the Boyd Coddington Pro’s Picks.
At the time in the mid-’80s, Boyd was the face of street rodding’s resurgence. Gone were the resto rods of the ’70s and in were smoothie cars, billet aluminum wheels, billet steering wheels, and fat fenders. Boyd was the king of them all, adorning every magazine cover, building the best of the best hot rods, and was as close as any hot rodder ever came to being a household name. For him to come along for the rise of the Goodguys Rod & Custom Association meant everything to Gary.
I can remember those early years of the Indy Hot Rod Nationals at Raceway Park just outside Indianapolis. Literally hundreds and hundreds of hot rodders would line up in their machines at the track’s entrance before sunrise on Saturday to take their spot in line to enter the Pro’s Pick parking area for a chance at Boyd’s blessing. Boyd himself would roll in around 7:30am and personally greet every entrant who drove through the gates hoping for one of the ten custom-machined, sculpted and anodized Pro’s Pick awards.
Boyd lieutenants Dick and Melba Brogdon were always his support team. Dick would walk the rows with Boyd deliberating the selections while Melba would jot down notes of the contenders. About 4:30 in the afternoon, Melba would come to the show office with a beautifully hand-written note containing the names, hometowns, and year/make/models of the chosen few. It was such a cool process.
During the Sunday awards ceremony, Boyd, adorned in his trademark Hawaiian shirt, would post up at the awards stage handing out his masterful awards. Every single event featured a different award – different shapes, colors and patterns. Whoever has one of these early Pro’s Pick awards sitting on their mantle has a very valuable piece of hot rod treasure.
Boyd and Gary remained close until Boyd passed in 2008. Coddington made the Pro’s Picks every year, his last of which came at the Goodguys Nationals in Columbus during the summer of 2007. It was also Boyd who came up with the “Judy Murray Memorial Award” at the season-ending Goodguys Southwest Nationals. Boyd would put $1,500 cash in an envelope and pick out one single car in honor of the late Judy Murray. She and her husband Larry Murray were longtime friends, clients and ISCA participants who meant the world to Boyd.
After Boyd died, his close friend Bobby Alloway, Boyd’s widow Jo, and Gary Meadors had a sit down on how to proceed with the Pro’s Picks. Between the three of them, it was decided the tradition should continue, though the Pro’s Pick moniker should rest with Boyd. Thus, the Goodguys Builder’s Choice awards were born and today are selected by the industry’s top builders at Goodguys national events across the country.
Loyalty and support mean a lot in life. For Gary Meadors and Boyd Coddington, it meant everything.