Weekend Rewind! 21st Meguiar’s Del Mar Nationals

Southern California cruising season shifted into high gear this weekend when Goodguys rumbled into the San Diego area for the 21st Meguiar’s Del Mar Nationals. This is the region where hot rodding was born and where American car culture blossomed, and the Del Mar Fairgounds became a celebration of all things automotive for three solid days as Goodguys brought its special brand of chrome-plated, custom-painted good times to town!

“Ya Gotta Drive ’Em” is what Goodguys founder Gary Meadors always said, and we honored that spirit with the three-day Destination Del Mar drive from Pleasanton, plus the scenic Del Mar Cruise led by the Over the Hill Gang on Thursday. But the driving didn’t stop there. Cruising lanes around the Del Mar Fairgrounds were in motion all weekend long as participants made laps, checked out the show, and enjoyed the beautiful surroundings.

Del Mar has a long history as a playground for the rich and famous, which makes it a fitting venue for the Meguiar’s Street Rod d’Elegance award. We had some elite entries this year making up the Top Five finalists. The lineup included Kent Matranga’s full-fendered Muroc roadster, Pat Gauntt’s ’32 Ford coupe, Sonny Freeman’s ’32 Ford coupe, Monty Belsham’s Muroc roadster, and Rit and Kathy Patchen’s ’39 Ford coupe. The tight race was ultimately won by Gauntt’s intricate and elegant bronze coupe, a six-year build project recently finished by Hollywood Hot Rods. The Street Rod d’Elegance crown was the second big win this year for the coach-built coupe, which also won the Al Slonaker Memorial Award at the 2022 Grand National Roadster Show.

There was plenty of other hardware to go around, including the Builder’s Choice Top 10 selected by the Goodguys staff. Once again, there was no shortage of worthy candidates. We think the final lineup was exceptional.

The Goodguys media team chose Bob Matranga’s subtle and stunning SOHC-powered ’64 Galaxie as the Goodguys feature pick. And a full slate of Meguiar’s Top 12 regional finalists was also selected during the weekend. David Biegler’s ’64 Buick Riviera was the Vintage Air Custom Rod of the Year finalist; Steve Jones got the LMC Truck Late finalist spot with his ’66 C10; Ken and Susan Fontes’ ’56 Chevy won the Scott’s Hotrods Truck of the Year Early finalist award; Mark and Elaine Regan earned the Snap-on Muscle Car of the Year finalist award with their SS 396 ’69 Camaro; and Kevin Hart’s ’69 Road Runner won the Griot’s Garage finalist spot.

In contrast to the nonstop laid-back cruising by show participants, Goodguys CPP AutoCross racers enjoyed some high-rpm action all weekend as they searched for the fastest lines around the tight-cornered track and a chance to compete in Saturday’s Duel in Del Mar Shootout presented by Classic Performance Products. The most successful among them were Wes Drelleshak, who won the Speedtech PRO-X class in the Sheely ’65 Cobra Daytona; David Carroll, who edged out Wes for the Speedtech PRO-X shootout win; Eric Sheely in his ’72 Corvette topping the Summit Racing PRO class and shootout; Bill Graves Sr. racing his ’66 Corvette to the Forgeline Street Machine class and shootout wins; David Carroll getting second and third wins by topping the LMC Truck class and shootout in his ’74 Blazer; Scott Fraser earning Gearstar Sports Car class and shootout win in his ’89 Corvette; and Ike Crouch winning the FiTech Challenger class in his Factory Five Roadster.

Many more Southern California car traditions were represented throughout the weekend. Drag racing was celebrated with a spectacular lineup of front-engine dragsters – and one boat – sounding off during the Nitro Thunderfest exhibitions. And wood-bodied beach cruisers got special recognition in the Good Wood parking area – one of many Saturday Specialty Parking areas open for participation. Speaking of special parking, the PPG Lowrider Palace brought some true eye candy to the event with a vibrant display of lowriders, yet another automotive trend born in Southern California.

If all of that wasn’t enough, the 21st Meguiar’s Del Mar Nationals also had a great selection of vendor displays, great live music, kids’ fun, a sizeable swap meet, an indoor car show, and a Saturday Burnout Competition. No matter where you turned, there was another element of great American car culture to see and experience. It was enough to make you want to hop in that rod, custom, truck, or muscle car and do some California-style cruisin’ of your own. We’ll see you out on the road!

Photos by Damon Lee, Steven Bunker, John Jackson & Terry Lysak

Editor, Goodguys Gazette

Damon Lee began snapping photos at car shows when he was 10, tagging along with his father to events throughout the Midwest. He has combined his passion for cars and knack for writing and imagery into a 20-year career in the automotive aftermarket, writing for titles like Super Chevy and Rod & Custom and, more recently, working for respected industry leaders Speedway Motors and Goodguys Rod & Custom Association.