Weekend Rewind! 34th West Coast Nationals presented by BASF

What’s up, west side! Goodguys made a triumphant return to California this weekend to host our signature Bay Area event – the 34th West Coast Nationals presented by BASF! Long considered the Crown Jewel on the Goodguys calendar, this storied event glistened in the California sun as thousands of rodders and enthusiasts descended on the Alameda County Fairgrounds for a spectacular celebration of cool cars and good times!

The hometown crowd did us proud this weekend – as did thousands of others who made the trek to Pleasanton from around the region and across the country. The buzz was building for days as we celebrated Hot Rod Week with daily tours and cruises leading up to opening day on Friday. When the fairgrounds gates swung open bright and early, the hot rodders and cool cars were primed and ready for three days of candy-coated, chrome-plated fun!

Warm summer temperatures couldn’t match the hot assortment of vehicles packed into the facility. From early hot rods to muscle machines and beyond, the place was packed! Among the thousands of participants were a select few vying for the America’s Most Beautiful Award presented by BASF. Formerly known as America’s Most Beautiful Street Rod, this Meguiar’s Top 12 honor is now open to all vehicles through 1987 vintage and this was the first year competitors went head-to-head in person, as last year’s award was a virtual affair. It was a truly diverse lineup of competitors, as you can see from the Top Five, which included Marty Bettis’ ’59 Impala built by Marty with assistance from Gary’s Rods & Restorations, Harold and Tracy Chapman’s ’57 Cadillac from Customs and Hot Rods of Andice, Michael Petramalu’s ’67 Suburban built by J-Rod & Custom, Ryan Gates’ ’68 Camaro built by East Bay Muscle Cars, and Mark Sandfort’s ’65 C10 built by South City Rod & Custom.

When the final votes were tallied, the stunning silver East Bay-built Camaro known as “Rhodium” claimed the America’s Most Beautiful presented by BASF title. This is way more than a simple restomod – it’s a full-scale custom build with thoughtful touches and incredible craftsmanship throughout. Watch for a full feature on Monday at FuelCurve.com, and detailed coverage in an upcoming Goodguys Gazette.

Other significant weekend hardware came in the form of a Billet Specialties Muscle Car of the Year finalist – which went to Mark Perez’s ’69 Z28 Camaro – and a Scott’s Hotrods Truck of the Year finalist nod going to Jerry Logan’s ’34 Ford Pickup. The Chevrolet Performance Builder of the Year finalists for the weekend went to Kenny’s Rod Shop for Mark and Diane Bell’s LS-powered ’62 Ford pickup (GM Retro Iron) and American Legends for Chris Karges’ diesel-powered ’57 Chevy (GM Iron). The ’57 doubled up as our Fuel Curve Pick, while the Goodguys Feature Pick went to Dave Ceccanti’s smooth custom ‘47 Buick fastback.

The West Coast Nationals is also home to several special memorial Awards that are near and dear to our hearts. First off is the Gary Meadors Memorial Award with Marc Meadors choosing Pat Ganahl and his ’33 Ford 4-door Sedan to be the 2021 recipient, Randy Driskell was awarded with the Bill Burnham Memorial Award in his ’32 Ford Roadster, Tom Walsh and his ’32 Ford 3-window coupe received the Bruce Olson Memorial Award, the Stroker McGurk Award went to Chick Koszis’ ’32 Ford, Ben Wallace’s ’34 Ford Coupe received the Jim Ewing Memorial Award, and James Cerepak represented the Next Generation rodders and was given the Nathan Strube Memorial Award with his ’74 AMC Javelin.

On top of all that, Leonard Lopez from Dominator Street Rods returned to the West Coast Nationals to resume his role of selecting the Builder’s Choice Top 10. It’s never easy in Pleasanton thanks to the wealth of top-notch builders on the West Coast, but Leonard persevered and assembled a first-rate lineup. Let’s take a look.

West Coast AutoCrossers had been anxiously awaiting a chance to hit the track and got the opportunity as the Goodguys CPP AutoCross Series provided a competitive course and great competition, which culminated in Saturday’s West Coast Shootout presented by FiTech Fuel Injection. Some of the West’s bests were among the top finishers, as Greg Thurmond topped the PRO-X class and the PRO-X portion of the shootout, Mike Maier claimed the PRO class win, and Brian Hobaugh captured the PRO shootout victory. Bay Area racer (and 2020 AutoCrosser of the Year) Scott Fraser raced his C4 Corvette to a double-up win, topping the Forgeline Street Machine class and the Street Machine portion of the shootout. David Carroll had his new Blazer ready for action and won the LMC Truck class, plus the Truck/Challenger portion of the shootout. And Martin Pond raced his Fox-platform Mercury Zephyr to victory in the FiTech Challenger class. Sunday saw a flood of ’88-and-newer rides competing in the Wilwood Disc Brakes All American Sunday class, with Thomas Mac claiming the fastest time and class win, as well as capturing the top spot in the All American Shootout in his 2020 Tesla Model 3.

Yes, the winners’ circle was extensive, but in so many ways all who attended this event felt like they were taking a victory lap after waiting so long to gather in Pleasanton. Goodguys made sure the entire weekend felt like a celebration with a wide range of attractions and activities, from a swap meet full of cool finds and great deals, to special features like the Goodgals Gallery, model and pedal car displays, Pinstripers’ Brush Bash, and the ground-shaking Nitro Thunderfest presented by Summit Racing. We also hosted a smokin’ Burnout Competition, an extensive vendor midway, big indoor car show, games and activities for the kids, live music, and more. Add in Meguiar’s All American Sunday to finish off the weekend, and you had a full slate of hot rod fun.

We’d be hard pressed to remember a homecoming weekend that felt as good as this one. Connecting with old friends and meeting new ones, all while surrounded by a sea of cool cars in Goodguys’ hometown, felt better than we could have imagined. Thanks to all of you who made this weekend so special. And for those who couldn’t make it, here’s a small taste of what you missed.

Photos by Steven Bunker & Marc Gewertz

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.