Pleasanton Weekly

Arts & Entertainment - August 26, 2011

Pleasanton shifts into high gear for the Goodguys

This weekend is 25th year for Goodguys Rod & Custom show

Gary Meadors knew he had something special in 1987 when he launched the Goodguys West Coast Nationals at the Pleasanton Fairgrounds and 2,124 vintage hot rods showed up.

Meadors had promoted rod shows for other associations before stepping out entirely on his own. That summer, the Alamo family - Gary, his wife Marilyn and their two teenage sons -- put all their resources and energy into shaping a national series of Goodguys auto shows to be kick-started by that first West Coast Nationals.

Though they'd known him as a true hot rodder and promoter since the early '70s, industry insiders and rival promoters said he'd never make it, and Meadors was beginning to feel the doubt creeping in.

"But the story had a happy ending," said Meadors. "Very happy in fact."

Twenty-five years later Goodguys produces 21 national events in 13 states and has an association with 70,000 worldwide members. Goodguys events draw over 1 million visitors annually as well as over 50,000 classic cars. And it publishes a 200 page, all-color monthly magazine and has an entire line of specialty merchandise.

"We struck a chord with car guys and enthusiasts," Meadors said. "There's a magic surrounding this event. Since that first year, people have flocked to Pleasanton from all over the country and the world to see the colorful cars and hang out in Pleasanton."

He said that of all the facilities throughout the country where Goodguys holds events, the Pleasanton Fairgrounds is the "gem" of them all due to its shady trees, smooth roads, lush lawn areas and air conditioned buildings.

Corporate headquarters, now in Pleasanton, employs a full time staff of more than 30 people. Meadors is retired from day to day operations, having passed the presidency to his youngest son Marc. Now Gary has time to cruise America in his own hot rod and for that, he's grateful.

Pleasanton and the entire Tri-Valley has also enjoyed the 25-year run of the Goodguys West Coast Nationals, which has an annual economic impact of $6.1 million dollars, according to the Tri-Valley Convention and Visitor's Bureau.

The Hilton Pleasanton at the Club has served as the event's host hotel since it opened in 1988.

"There is a great deal of work to get ready for these car enthusiasts, what they give back to us makes it all worth it," General Manager Kevin Goebel said. "Year in and year out, no matter which Goodguys event, our entire team gets revved up for the Goodguys."

The gates swing open at 8 a.m. today on a display of 3,500 candy-colored vintage cars and events that include more than 50 model engines running on gasoline and methanol with exhibitors from as far away as England in the Western Engine Model Exhibition.

Other highlights include Saturday night fireworks over the Fairgrounds race track, 300 manufacturer's exhibit booths, the crowning of "America's Most Beautiful Street Rod," Builder's Choice awards selected by Oakland's Steve Moal, and live entertainment.

"We're pulling out all the stops to make this the biggest and most exciting West Coast Nationals ever," said Harry Daviess, Goodguys vice president of Events. "This is our hometown biggie -- our 'crown jewel,'" he said. "There's been a buzz about the 25th anniversary West Coast Nationals since last summer."

Hot rodder paradise

What: Goodguys 25th West Coast Nationals

Where: Alameda County Fairgrounds

When: opens at 8 a.m. Aug. 26-28; closes at 5 p.m. Friday-Saturday, and 3 p.m. Sunday.

Admission: Adults, $18; kids 7-12, $6. Parking, $8.

Other: Saturday night fireworks begin at 8:45 p.m.

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