Reviewing the Goolsby Customs Next Generation Award Winners from the Second Half of 2021
If what we saw from the Goolsby Customs Next Generation award process during this past year has any indication of the overall health of hot rodding, there’s no need to worry – we’re in good hands. Of course, not all teens and 20-somethings are looking in fields for old cars and trucks, scrounging swap meets, or spending nights in their garage, but those who are doing that are doing it well!
The Next Generation award presented by Goolsby Customs may have received a new name for 2021 and an updated selection process over the past few years, but Goodguys has been recognizing young rodders for decades. Many of them are still Goodguys members who we see regularly, have continued building new rides over the years, and have introduced kids of their own to this hot-rodding world.
Jonathan Goolsby supports the Next Generation program 100-percent as he stays in contact via social media with these young rodders to offer advice and tips as they continue to refine their rides or start building new ones. One of the biggest differences between hot rodding in the 1950s, ’60s, or ’70s to today is the support system. Back then, groups of friends would help each other in the garage, whereas now a young hot rodder may only have one or two buddies (and hopefully a parent or older relative) to lend a helping hand.
If you want to see this hobby carry on, show some support, offer words of encouragement, and answer questions or give advice when you see a 20-something-year-old park next to you at a Goodguys event or your local cruise in. Their “classic” may be different than yours, but the mindset is still the same.
Robert Hardee is a 23-year-old member of the Lone Star Van Club and rolls around the city of Kennedale, Texas in this groovy ’77 Dodge van. Robert won the Next Generation award at the All-Star Get Together in Fort Worth this past Summer with his original “Good Times, Inc.” van sporting 440 power, period panel graphics, and Cyclone wheels.
We’ve seen Gavin Buehler’s ’29 Ford Model A a few times over the years but it’s always refreshing to catch up with a 20-year-old who owns, built, and drives a ’30s rod. The New York native picked up a Next Generation finalist spot at the Great American Nationals in York, Pennsylvania this past fall with a car that he started building alongside his grandfather when he was just 13 years old. It’s equipped with ’32 Ford rails, 327ci SBC power backed with a Saginaw four-speed transmission, steel wheels, and a still-in-progress interior.
Vincent Goddard has had this ’42 International pickup since he was 12 years old! He’s 25 now and has it set up with a Mustang II IFS, small-block Chevy power, a custom grille, and brilliant blue PPG paint. It’s a regular at “The Big One” in Columbus every summer and we love to see young Vincent keeping the hot rod flame alive for younger rodders.
William Smith is a 21-year-old rodder who built his ’55 Chevy pickup on a 2004 Trailblazer all-wheel-drive chassis with LS power and OZ Racing wheels. With late-model power and handling and classic style, he’s got the best of both worlds and earned the Next Generation award at the Great Northwest Nationals in Spokane, Washington.
Jonathan Goolsby was on-hand at the Heartland Nationals in Des Moines, Iowa this summer and 22-year-old Keith Horton’s clean ’66 Chevy II with a modified 4.8-liter LS V8, 4L60 transmission, four-link rear suspension, Weld wheels, and Wilwood disc brakes caught his attention. Dakota Digital gauges update the inside, while Borla exhaust gives this Nova a healthy rumble.
Ben Frensko’s father originally had this ’63 F100 as a shop truck. When Ben was 12, father and son started working to put the truck on a 2010 Crown Victoria chassis and floor, complete with a late-model 281c.i. V8. Ben and his father road tripped down to the Nashville Nationals (where he won the Next Generation award) from their home in Minnesota – nearly a 2,000-mile round trip! This truck is a cool and comfortable cruiser for Ben to represent the next generation of hot rod enthusiasts.
Zachary Drew is now 25 years old, but he bought this ’80 Camaro with lawn mowing money when he was just 13! Zachery earned the Next Generation award at the Pacific Northwest Nationals in Puyallup, Washington this summer and it’s a clean survivor with the coveted T-top option and sport wheels, plus small block power and a Flowmaster exhaust. We can’t wait to see this one evolve!
At the Salt Lake Nationals, Cotton Rackham’s ’37 Ford caught our attention for the amount of work Cotton tackled himself. Cotton is a 25-year-old rodder who handled most of the rebuild on the Ford, which included a Mustang II-style IFS, 302c.i. Ford small block V8, 17- and 18-inch wheels, custom upholstery by Cotton, and Ferrari Red paint with gunmetal gray fenders. Way to go, Cotton!
Young James Cerepak doubled up at the West Coast Nationals this year, winning both the Next Generation award and the Nathan Strube Memorial Award with his ’74 AMC Javelin. The 22-year-old enthusiast bought the Javelin when he was 14 and has it looking sharp and cruising strong with a 401c.i. AMC V8, Sniper fuel injection, a ’71 cowl induction hood, and an upgraded interior from a ’73 Pierre Cardin edition Javelin.
A lifelong car kid, Steven grew up around drag strips – his name may sound familiar because his grandfather is Bob Bunker, a Pro Mod pioneer who piloted the “Folsom Flash” ’55 Chevy from the ’70s through the ’90s. Steven’s father, Bob Bunker Jr., heads up Bunker Motorsports and is a regular in the West Coast racing scene, building chassis and race cars for more than 30 years. With genetics like that, it’s no wonder Steven has a passion for both cars and motorsports. In addition to helping his father and honing his fabrication skills at Bunker Motorsports, Steven began shooting photos at the drag strip and capturing the action with his Canon camera. He is now artfully crafting stories around the awesome machines at the shows, as well as the men and women behind them. When he's is not on the road covering events, he spends his downtime out on the water fishing, building his 1962 Chevy Nova, or cruising his 1987 GMC Suburban.