ong before I came on board here at CLASSIC TRUCKS; way before my time at the helm of Custom Rodder; heck, even before I got my ears wet gophering on Street Rodder, there was this one event up in Central California, in a quaint little wine town called Paso Robles, that was a must-do. A small organization called West Coast Kustoms, headed up by Rich and Penny Pichette and manned by volunteers from across the state, put on a yearly get-together called the Cruisin' Nationals. We just like to call it Paso for short.
Over the years, regardless of what my job had me doing, I always set Memorial Day Weekend aside for Paso. More often than not, I would have the "luxury" of covering the event for whatever publication, but the point still remained that I was there, right in the middle of what I believed to be the best "custom car" show around--period. On the rare occasion that I was there as a "civilian," I got to meet some great people. But even if I was working, I got to be amongst some of the coolest cars I'd ever seen.
And it was up until this year that I'd gone solely for the customs. I'll admit it, I'm a custom guy at heart, though I've probably had just as many classic trucks as I've had customs. But once I took over this fine magazine, I figured I'd just be going to Paso as a regular civilian from here on out...until I started remembering that there were quite a few classic trucks in attendance in past years. Well, I had the weekend off, hotel booked, and my '53 Chevy all ready to roll, so there was no reason not to bring my camera along with (besides, it's pretty much been surgically attached per company policy!). So the little missus and I rolled out of town at 4 a.m. sharp on Friday morning, en route to Paso, via Highway 101 (and other not-so-smooth L.A. freeways). While there are shorter routes north, I enjoy the coastal route for numerous reasons: cooler air, better scenery, more places to stop for whatever. We met up with some friends in Ventura, and then continued our leisurely trip northbound. Before noon, we rolled into a town packed to the brim with hot rods, customs, motorcycles, and of course classic trucks. Every hotel, motel, restaurant, gas station, and convenience store parking lot was full of cool vehicles. After getting settled in at our preferred lodging locale, we moseyed over to the "old" A&W Drive-In (I say old because it has since changed hands and is now called the Spring Street Drive-In, or something like that, but everyone knows it as the A&W!) to check out the scene and witness the impending evening cruise down Spring Street, Paso's main drag. It was here that my recollections were indeed correct--there were a number of classic trucks, and the event had barely yet begun.
The following morning, the dawn of the big show as it were, we rolled into the park in the middle of town where WCK stages the event. Those wanting "power parking" rights need to be in line by 4 a.m.--we already did that the morning prior, so we enjoyed a few more hours of needed rest, opting to roll into the park around 8 a.m. or so. And it was here that I knew I had brought my camera for a good reason, as I saw more trucks than I had ever imagined. It was turning out to be another great show indeed, and that had nothing to do with how many trucks were there.
I think my correlating Paso, with its former lack of trucks, is sort of like seeing certain types of vehicles on the road more or less. When I bought a '90 Geo Metro a few years back, I started seeing more and more Geo Metros on the road. It wasn't that more people were starting to drive them; it was just that now that I was driving one, I noticed others more. Now that I'm a full-fledged trucker, I notice classic trucks more and more wherever I go.
Bottom line, even if you're a die-hard truck enthusiast--one that only goes to truck-specific events--don't rule out shows like West Coast Kustoms' Cruisin' Nats for fear of being the minority. Chances are, you might have more fun than you ever imagined, plus you'll see a lot of vehicles without beds!