A very important facet of having a race car based in the USA is to support your sponsors and do the best you can for them. It was during a conversation I was having with Lucas Oil in September 2019 that the subject of the Grand National Roadster Show came up. "Would I like to show 7707 on the Lucas Oil Stand?" was the question. A millisecond later, my answer was of course I would.
For those who do not know it, the show is probably one of the biggest Car Shows in the US. It takes place at the Pomona County Fairground right next door to the Sheraton and the Pomona dragstrip, and, more importantly, 10 minutes from the 7707 Lucas Oil Landspeed Team Headquarters. It takes place in January and is spread over nearly 300,000 square feet...yes, you read that correctly. 300,000 sq foot. Hall 4, where we were based, is over 100,000 sq foot on its own.
So, getting back to saying yes, we would love to show the car, we had to send in the size of the car, i.e. length and width. The reason was to see if it would fit the stand. Roll on a few months to January 2020. The Landspeed car had been undergoing further development ready for Speedweek 2020 and was looking stunning.
The Grand National Roadster Show is open over three days to the public, but the build up starts two days earlier on the Wednesday. It is open at 9am to 8pm. Trust me, this is exhausting. But our first problem was that when we pulled into the Fairgrounds we realised we could not get the car up the slope into the Hall. It was getting late on the Wednesday and we ended up speaking very nicely to some security guards who opened up the main doors in Hall 4 where we would be based. Even better was that we were right by the main entrance. So having unloaded the car, we rolled it on to the stand and went and got some sleep. At this point, I need to thank those concerned for all their help. Mick Jenkins....car builder to the stars, Mickey Larson, car and truck builder to the movies, SCTA Tech Kiwi Steve, and resident comedian Tony Thacker. This was a busy day for Mick Jenkins and for all of us, as Mick had his own stand at the show, so not only did we have my car to unload, but also his two cars as well. Thursday and Friday was spent cleaning the car, chilling and just generally getting ready for the opening.
Each Hall had its own theme. We even had the Nostalgia Dragster there in over 30,000 sq foot. With a Pat Foster creation, Tommy Ivo cars, in fact you name it and it was there. Including Ron Hope's Rat Trap and of course Rich Guasco’s Pure Hell and twice a day they rolled them out and did a cackle. Incredible.
So let’s get down to the numbers...there was approximately 900 cars on display. Then on the Saturday was the Street Rod drive in. 700 pre entered and on the Saturday over 1200 street rods turned up. You didn’t know which way to look. Some of the cars driven in on Saturday could have easily been up there for a win.
This show is “THE” show to attend. Everyone and anyone attends this show. So many racers, showbiz people and guys you see on the Hot Rod TV builds were there so the cross section is just incredible. Spending time going over the construction of the race car with people from Boyd Coddington, Jimmy From Circle City Hot Rods and meeting my good buddy Johnny Martinez from Wicked Lines and a previous winner of the show is quite surreal.
On our stand we had a very steady stream of guests. Jack Beckman came to find me as he wanted to see the car close up. We got him in the car and he was surprised how comfy it was and how good visibility was. Following him Jet Car racer and Lucas Oil Boss Tom Bognor got in the car. We had visits from Floyd Lippencotte and Mrs Lippencotte AKA Bob and Sharon Muravez, Joe Schubeck and the lovely Gigi, Bill Schultz, Harry Hibler, Ron, Steve and Brian Hope, 200 mph club members John Beck from Vintage Hot Rods, and Donny Cummins from Racepak and numerous people who follow me on Facebook. A big surprise was being asked to do live interviews with my good friend Bob Beck for his show and an interview for Japanese TV. Trying to explain how a 5000 bhp race car gets down the salt was fun. We ended up using a translator. At the same time Mick was very busy in the Hall next to me, entertaining the likes of Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top. On the Saturday evening we also had the SCTA awards Banquet. Long days.
All in all We gave out something like 1500 hero cards during the 3 days. I had numerous pictures taken with fans and people who wanted to know more about a Landspeed car.
Please check out the dates for the 2021 Grand National Roadster Show. We will be there, and you can find us with Lucas Oil, who I need to thank for the opportunity to show the car.
Facebook is Geoff Stilwell - Salt Flat Racer.