Mesquite Motormania 2013: Return of a Monster Show!

In the movies cities, dread being invaded and destroyed by monsters, calamities and general bad luck. In real life, Mesquite Nevada welcomes being overrun annually by an invasion of hot rods, muscle cars, classics, trucks and customs of every description during the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend. What draws them is the Mesquite Motormania event which for 2013, was bigger and better than ever!

How about orange juice to start your day?

This was the fifth annual event, and its popularity has increased significantly since its beginning in 2009. Community support is fantastic and many of the most influential entities in the area work together to create a first class operation.

The Mesquite Resort Association, CasaBlanca Resort & Casino, Virgin River Hotel & Casino, Eureka Hotel & Casino and Mesquite Car Shows are all major event sponsors. Add to that list heavy hitters like the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority, Las Vegas Events and the Las Vegas Cruisin’ Association, Inc., and you have a team that definitely knows how to create a fun and exciting three-day event!

Left: The Peoples Choice winner was Dennis Hill of Spring Valley, California and his stunning 1960 Ford Starliner. Right: The Participants Award went to Tucson, Arizona resident Lee Abrahams and his ferocious looking 1954 Kaiser Darrin Gasser.

Over 700 entries competed for the $15,000.00 in total prize money awards. The three largest awards were the $1000.00 Peoples Choice Award, $2,000.00 Participant’s Pick Award and the $3,000.00 Best In Show Award. Winning one of those is not a bad way to spend a holiday weekend by any means!

The award for Best in Show was bestowed upon West Valley Utah’s Bill Williams for his magnificent 1941 Willys Coupe.

Bring Out the Noise!

Roaring engine competitions, slow drag races, parts swap meets, and the car sales corral are just some of what goes on over the course of the weekend. But other than the car show itself, perhaps the biggest crowd pleasers are the open header cruises. Spectators look on while participants are allowed to take their unmuffled, powerhouse machines to the public streets and drive unimpeded by the local constabulary to each of the resorts.

As the participant’s staged to begin the cruise, the reactions of the spectators became something of a show in itself. By reading their facial expressions you could see joy and excitement as smiling faces beamed brighter still.

The most entertaining to observe were the newbies – the folks who were there for the first time and their contact with hot rods and motorsports was limited to TV. The reactions of these people ranged from wide-eyed wonder to sheer terror and back again – usually all within a matter of seconds. Probably the best thing about observing these individuals is that you are witnessing the birth of a fan!

Get Your Shine On

It could rightly be said that every entry deserved to be highlighted for it was surely somebody’s favorite! However even in the virtual world, space is at a premium. So here are some of the standout entries that appeared over the weekend. 

The 1955 Chevy Nomad owned by Ken and Elaine Birmingham takes the color red to the nth degree. The striking color is offset by the formality of a gray pinstripe which connects the multi hued gray interior and dark gray top. Highly finished engine compartment features a Chevy small block topped with two four-barrel carburetors and liberal applications of chrome which echoes the exterior chrome features which made the Nomad famous.

Utah resident Don Simmons’ 1932 Chevrolet five window coupe is deeply rooted in the traditional hot rod scene. The exterior is white with the yellow flames and and the interior and the rumble seat are done in the traditional tuck and roll pattern with yellow and white hides.

Throwback design elements like matching yellow “dice” are used for the shifter knob, barefoot “Surfer” gas pedal and a stylized shrunken head hanging from the rear view mirror complete the traditional hot rod look. Chevy powerplant is topped by an Edelbrock Tunnel-ram intake with a dual quad top feeding fuel to the color-coordinated long block. Cooling fan, hoses, spark plug wires and carburetor covers all keep with the yellow theme.

Call the Chiropractor! 

Hot rods can’t get much lower down than the “SickRat.” This ground hugging 1929 Ford coupe is owned by Ben and Lyn Brocco. Entry and exit of this groundling is something of a chore even for the youngest and fittest of passengers. Ben graciously allowed a few fans to get behind the wheel and experience the sensation riding in a vehicle with their posteriors literally 4 inches above the earth! However we couldn’t escape the feeling that Ben was actually amusing himself and the crowds as we watched unsuspecting people contort themselves in ways that yoga masters can only dream of achieving! 

Front suspension is handled by a single inverted leaf spring mounted on an I-beam front axle. A custom air suspension system in the rear bumps up the ground clearance to a whopping 7 inches which is just enough to take on speed bumps and dips – SLOWLY! Keeping it old school, manual drum brakes on all four corners have the job of slowing the rod, while the car’s vintage steering wheel dictates direction. Tall white wall tires are hung on vintage wire wheels that are painted red to match the exterior paint accents.

When it comes to customs pickup trucks can make some of the best platforms. The customized 1967 Chevrolet C-10 owned by Maurie and Lynn Hoover of Chico California made appearances at all of the various show areas and drew curious in appreciative crowds everywhere it stopped. 

Custom touches abound on the Hoover’s mover from the 2-inch chop to the roof, suicide doors, complete air suspension system, handmade tonneau cover, custom designed dash with digital readouts and complete electronic entertainment system in the console. 

Horsepower is produced by a Chevy LS engine equipped with a vintage looking but fully electronic fuel injection system which passes the revs through a 700R4 automatic trans, which makes the custom 20’s and the tires attached go round and round. Heavy duty Baer disc brakes on all four wheels bring everything to a halt quickly and safely.

The striking silver over red paint scheme inside and out is artistically enhanced by a combination of black, orange and brown pinstripes. Interior materials include butter-soft light grey leather throughout with snake-skin pattern inserts on the seats and the steering wheel. Brown carpet which ties in the pinstripe color pulls the package all together.

1953 Buick Roadmaster is one of GM’s Harley Earl’s most famous designs. This yellow and white example is owned by Bob and Joyce Harris and retains the essence of that iconic 1950’s look. However, under the gorgeous metalwork beats the heart of a 1970‘s era Buick 455 and Turbo 400. And while the dash and controls look to be in their original configuration and retain their 50’s flavor, the systems have received comfort upgrades that will please the most persnickety of persons.

If you liked these pics, there are lots more photos from the 2013 event the gallery below. Be sure to take a look!

About the author

Paul Lambert

Paul Lambert is an independent writer who grew up during a time in Southern California car culture when big horsepower and high speed were celebrated above all. He now understands that turning, stopping, appearance and comfort are equal in importance...almost! Paul tries to find something likeable and interesting about anything with wheels and thinks that the people, history, and culture of hot rodding are often as important to the story as the cars and events being featured.
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