t's hard to believe that it's been well over half a century since the very first Grand National Roadster Show was held at the Oakland Coliseum. The year was 1950, and the very first recipient of the soon-to-be prestigious America's Most Beautiful Roadster award was Bill Niekamp's track-nosed '29 Ford, which was also a piece of hot rodding history in the making. Just a few years after its inception, the show featured a roadster pickup that would eventually become the first and only two-time consecutive AMBR winner--the Barris-built "Ala Kart."
Now in its 59th year and being held a bit south of Oakland in Pomona, California, the GNRS went out of its way to showcase the 50th anniversary of the "Ala Kart's" show debut. Meticulously restored by Roy Brizio, the famous roadster pickup (once thought to be lost forever) was set up in the main show building amongst all the current AMBR contenders just as it was displayed back in 1958--complete with foil-covered jackstands!
Of course, the show was packed with tons of additional feature attractions, not the least of which was an array of SoCal pickups. Everything from full show trucks right down to primered drivers were showcased in the revamped Suede Palace building that's been gaining more and more popularity in the last couple years. Some of the other highlights of the show included appearances by ZZ Top's Billy F. Gibbons, 2008 Builder of the Year Troy Trepanier, and the overly anticipated, long-time in the making, fullsize Hot Wheels "Twin Mill" among other things.
While the competition for AMBR may have gotten a bit over the top in recent years, the Grand National Roadster Show is still one of, if not the best indoor show California has to offer. Guess that's why it's still the world's longest running indoor car show, huh? Well, seeing that next year's event celebrates the 60th anniversary of the GNRS (promoters are planning to have every AMBR winner on display), you can count on us being there for all the action--stay tuned for further developments. CT
The freshly restored Barris-built Ala Kart was on display and in the running to hopefully
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