Retro Rumblings – Buddy Buddy
I was at a car show recently and the subject of awards came up. The guy I was talking with had no idea I spent 28 years employed with the Goodguys family traveling thousands of miles on the chrome carnival tour. Those were the best 28 years of my life.
I learned really quickly about trophy hunting and power parking. Lawn chairs, too. Those three topics are at the forefront of most car related events.
So, I baited this fella I was chatting with by asking him, “Do you attend Goodguys events?” His reply was, “No, I quit Goodguys. They’re too buddy buddy with their award selections. They just pick their friends’ cars.” I left it at that.
It got me to thinking about the Goodguys awards program over the last four decades. I can tell you from firsthand experience, Goodguys doesn’t just pick their buddys’ cars. Since the early-’90s, the awards program has been thoughtfully constructed, and taken very seriously. There is a standard and there are unwritten rules about do’s and don’ts.
Starting on Wednesday of National event weeks, the awards are unpacked, assembled, and laid out by category. Then they are divided up by whoever is responsible for picking the cars in their categories.
Since day one there has been an emphasis on calling them picks. Goodguy Gary Meadors wasn’t a fan of angel hair, rock salt, and 5-foot-tall trophies and the term awards, while certainly used in Goodguys vernacular, always had a serious sound to it. Gary preferred a looser term emphasizing having fun at the event, driving around and cruising the grounds, and if you are “picked,” then that’s cool, but the broader point was to have fun with your ride.
Goodguys has always had a general in charge of the awards. It used to be an independent committee not employed by Goodguys – a team we brought in to make selections. They didn’t even know who our buddies were! After a few years of that, the late Dick Eaton – a hot rodder from Salinas, California – was appointed Awards Director. It was Dick’s baby. He delegated, of course, but being from the West Coast, Dick didn’t have a lot of buddies outside California.
Once Dick finished his time as Awards Director, the duty fell to our core staff led by Bill Goodwill and Harry Daviess. Harry relied on other longtime staffers to help out. Once Bill retired, John Salick came aboard as the main helper to Harry in terms of the program. Sadly, John passed late last year.
True we all have had buddies in the business and they regularly showed cars with Goodguys, but it was drilled into us at a young age to scour all of the fairgrounds, fence to fence, to look for bitchin’ cars and trucks that fit the pick. The Goodguys team has always taken that tradition very seriously.
When the Top 12 awards program – now the Meguiar’s Top 12 – debuted in the late-’90s, we implemented a fair and transparent committee approach. As many as 15 people were on the selection committee for these “Of The Year” awards, including industry people, Goodguys staff, magazine editors, and several renowned builders who didn’t have a car in competition. Again – no buddy system!
Like any contest or competition, there is always the potential for controversy. Sometimes hurt feelings, sometimes finger pointing. And that’s OK, because it’s always been that way and will always be that way. The underlying point is this: consistency and fairness by the selection committee has always been at the forefront of the program.
The picks and awards are done the exact same way today. The majority are selected by core staff members. Some sponsors get to make picks, and of course top builders from around the country in the Builder’s Choice Top 10 program.
Furthering the transparency, when it comes to Memorial Awards, surviving family members typically make those picks. For instance, the Gary Meadors Memorial Award is picked exclusively by Marc Meadors. Gary Medley, son of the late Tom Medley, migrates down from Oregon each August to pick the Stroker McGurk award in honor of his dad, whose doodles became legend in the pages of Hot Rod and Rod & Custom. Same with the Bill Burnham Award, Deuce Bruce Olson Memorial Award, Jim Ewing, and others.
Goodguy Gary always used to say you really can’t “win” anything in motorsport unless there’s a finish line. We’ve never had a finish line at a rod and custom event. We’ve just been doing picks the way we’ve always done them.
Tell your buddy’s that’s how it’s done!