Valley Nationals – Hot Rod Coalition Comes of Age
Conceived by Anthony Granata and perpetrated with the multi-member Hot Rod Coalition, the Valley Nationals has matured from humble beginnings into a full-featured show with shop tours, a swap meet, reliability run, vendors and myriad other activities in its short four years. Granata started the HRC in 2010 with the vision to honor his father’s legacy. Another driving force behind the coalition was to give something back to the men that created the Central Valley hot rod culture. To that end, they have succeeded by recruiting a core staff of dedicated members offering events like ‘Rods on the Bluff”, local shows and their flagship event; The Valley Nationals.
As we arrived on scene at this year’s event, a chill hung in the air as the sun crept over the jagged Sierra Nevada range. The sudden roar of uncorked horsepower shattered the peaceful Saturday silence. The gates were soon open, pancakes & sausage griddled, and the 4th Valley Nationals was warming up the Madera County fairgrounds quickly.
The main entry area and exhibition building were crowded with ‘indoor show’ type cars and vintage racers of the highest calibre. Outside, the tree-lined lanes of the fairgrounds gave way to row upon row of vintage cars of every flavor imaginable; hot rods, customs, muscles, drag cars, lowriders, trucks, and road racers shared the grassy shade. Nearby was a vendor’s row where hot rod shops, parts vendors, automotive art and other offerings were on display. The HRC hosted a pancake breakfast in the morning and kept people fed all day with burgers ‘n dogs, snacks and drinks.
Across from the show cars, the swap area offered a treasure trove of vehicles, parts, vintage bicycles, antique toys, and the various other automobilia that we all love to drool over. A rustic, open-air pavilion provided the perfect space for the Valley Pinstripers of Fresno to hold their panel jam and the striper’s stayed busy visiting with friends, painting, and selling their art from their respective booths all day.
Live music filled the air for most of the day, until the Rockabilly Mafia Dolls launched the 1st Miss Valley Nationals Pinup Contest. A sisterhood dedicated to empowering women and being positive role models who embody positivity, kindness and class, the Rockabilly Mafia Dolls are dedicated to giving back to the community. They work with numerous charities to raise funds to help veterans, the homeless, foster children, autism awareness, LGBT, cancer victims, -the list is long and legit. They held a 50/50 drawing, selling tickets throughout the day with half of the proceeds set for charity. When the winning ticket was pulled, the lucky ticket holder immediately donated the money back and more than $400 was raised for charity by day’s end. Fashion and accessory booths were on hand and the RMDs provided hair and makeup for pre-pageant primping.
The conclusion of the pinup contest was quickly followed by a minor stampede as the lineup of drag cars on display launched an impromptu cackle-off. Fingers-in-ears and wall-to-wall grins filled the crowd as they enjoyed the cacophony of cubic inches. After the hydrocarbon haze dissipated, the top 50 awards were handed out and the 4th Valley Nationals was put to bed. If you find yourself near the geographic center of California next fall and want to experience the biggest car show around these parts, put the Valley Nationals on your must-see list.