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ben giangiulio, of Del Mar, displays a pop out semaphore turn indicator on his ’55 Volkswagen Bug on Saturday during the Goodguys 1st Meagur’s So-Cal Nationals car show at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. Photo by Jan Wagner
ben giangiulio, of Del Mar, displays a pop out semaphore turn indicator on his ’55 Volkswagen Bug on Saturday during the Goodguys 1st Meagur’s So-Cal Nationals car show at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. Photo by Jan Wagner
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Goodguys: ‘America’s favorite car show’ returns to Del Mar Fairgrounds

Goodguys — “America’s Favorite Car Show” — returned to the Del Mar Fairgrounds for the second time this year, on Sept. 30 through Oct. 2, complete with a new name: the 1st Meguiar’s So-Cal Nationals, presented by BASF.

While much had remained the same, there were a few significant changes, too.

Goodguys was founded in Northern California in 1983 by cool-car enthusiast Gary Meadors. A national series of hot rod and custom car events began soon thereafter, in 1987.

Gary customized his first hot rod — a 1947 Plymouth — at the age of 16, cutting its factory coil suspension springs to make it sit low to the ground — a look that typified the style that his cars would become known for, a look represented in his most recognized hot rod, his bright yellow 1932 Ford Tudor — “the centerpiece of the Goodguys logo since 1987.”

Sadly, Gary passed away in 2015, but his legacy lives on with “Gary’s Pick,” a special award presented to a vehicle that Gary might especially like. “Gary’s Pick” at this year’s So-Cal Nationals in Del Mar was awarded to the 1953 Packard of Scott Melcer, from Encinitas.

A cherry-red lowrider in the PPG Lowrider Palace at the 1st annual Goodguys Meguiar’s So-Cal Nationals at the Dle Mar Fairgrounds. Photo by Jan Wagner

There was, as always, much to see throughout the open spaces and spacious exhibit halls of the sprawling Del Mar Fairgrounds. Wherever you might go, cool cars and trucks would compel you to stop, see and, at least in my case, take pictures of them.

I mentioned earlier that there were some changes at this event, as compared to those of past Goodguys events in Del Mar. The most noteworthy of these changes, for me, was in regards to the Goodguys Autocross.

For many years the autocross had pretty much been on the same challenging, quick course, and surrounded by intimidating concrete barriers. I’d run this course for many years on “All-American Sunday” in my stock, evil-handling, 2011 Ford Mustang GT.

This course had a challenging combination of esses, very tight turns and straight bits. If you drove in to the turns too quickly, the result could be an up-close-and-personal encounter with the concrete barriers — an occurrence that had happened several times over the years (but thankfully not to me!).

Coincidentally, I happened to recording video and documented one of the most serious of these collisions with a video of the custom pickup truck’s entire, truck-destroying run (124,000 views to date), at the first of this year’s two Del Mar Fairgrounds events. To see that, click on the YouTube video link midway through “AutoMatters & More” #736.

This time, at the 1st So-Cal Nationals and perhaps in response to the crashes and the vehicle carnage that resulted from them, the autocross organizers changed not only the course design, but also moved its location to a different part of the paved fairgrounds. Whether the new course is better or not is up for debate, but it certainly appeared to be safer. Take a look at my photos of it (at and decide for yourself.

Other exciting action at the So-Cal Nationals featured the Goodguys Nitro Thunderfest, where loud, fire-breathing dragsters entertained cheering crowds; and the tire-smoking Burnout Competition.

An entire exhibit hall was dedicated to the PPG Lowrider Palace, filled with spectacular, beautifully customized lowriders.

Outside, cruising up and down the boulevard, several lowriders demonstrated their hydraulics-enabled hopping. I especially enjoyed seeing the beds of custom pickup trucks lift up and gyrate in all directions.

Another part of this Goodguys event that changed was moving the scale models exhibit to its own, enclosed area. Here, master modelers displayed examples of their work, and kids could “Make & Take” their own free model.

Other highlights included plenty of vendors, a swap meet, a “Cars for Sale Corral” and, to wrap up the weekend, the procession at the presentation of the awards.

After the show ended on Sunday, members of a car club arranged their customized rides for some spectacular group photos.

For more information about Goodguys car shows, including the full schedule of events; issues of the beautiful online magazine, classifieds, membership, gear and more, visit

To see the most photos and the latest text, and to explore a wide variety of content dating back to 2002, visit AutoMatters & More. On the home page, search by title or topic, or click on the blue ‘years’ boxes.

For the original column with 92 pictures from the event, visit AutoMatters & More’s “Goodguys Meguiar’s So-Cal Nationals — America’s Greatest Car Show.” For previous coverage of the Goodguys’ car shows, enter the keyword “Goodguys” in the search bar on the “AutoMatters & More” home page.

Copyright © 2022 by Jan Wagner – AutoMatters & More #762