Just a few short years ago, you never would have thought that racing would be taking place at a Goodguys Rod and Custom Association classic car show. Sure, there has always been the cruise where someone might rev an engine to the receptive crowd, but going fast, spinning tires, and just making a helluva a lot of noise and smoke was not part of the curriculum.
All of that changed in 2006 when Ridetech founder Bret Voelkel came up with an idea to get people excited, and that idea spawned an increasingly popular event known as the Goodguys Autocross. Now the spinning tires and racing engines are one of the show’s biggest attractions.
Back when the autocross first started, there weren’t a whole lot of people who wanted to take their show-worthy musclecar and race it around cones in a parking lot. But the whole “run what ya brung” mentality proved to be a popular one, and each year the competition has been growing with purpose-built cars showing up and making the crowd stand up and take notice.
For a few years, the crowd watched from the sidelines, and the cars were limited. That was yesterday, as they say, and today the event is so popular that they often have to turn some competitors away if they didn’t register early enough.
The autocross is open to anyone who enters their car in the show, meeting the rules and regulations of each particular show. For All American Sunday – which is only held at certain shows and locations – has people running any American made of powered vehicle.
There are several classes for running the autocross: PRO-Class, Street Machine, Hot Rod, Truck and All American Late Models. To get to the PRO-Class, well… that’s sort of like one of those, “if you have to ask, you can’t afford it” type of questions.
The rules for the autocross are a bit extensive, but it is designed to keep the event safe and fun. They don’t require helmets, and most cars don’t really get out of second gear at all, but safety is always the number one priority.
But if you think that the vehicles that run in the autocross are all race vehicles, think again. Because we have seen some very cool vehicles line up at the staging lights and get thrown around the course like a boss.
Del Mar Autocross – Standing Room Only
Each year that we’ve been to Del Mar for the Meguiars Del Mar Nationals, we’ve noticed a trend: just as the show itself has been growing by leaps and bounds, so has the crowd outside the fence at the autocross. What started as a back parking lot event that drew a small crowd has become a large event that takes place along the midway with a huge, standing room only crowd, that remains for most of the day.
Even when the events are over, the crowd sticks around to see what’s happening next – just in case someone takes their car around the course just one more time. And the crowd is the epitome of what spectators are: they are spectacular.
The applause from the crowd when a top time is turned in, and the disappointment when a cone or two gets in the way, just shows that the autocross affects more than just the competitors. It’s truly great to see such support, and to see it all day long, because those many years ago it almost seemed like a risky idea.
Some of the cars and trucks that were out competing this year, on paper, at least, probably weren’t what you’d expect. Stock wheels and tires, four doors, wagons, delivery panel trucks, and vehicles that need three lanes just to make a U-turn were out there pitching the car through tight hairpin turns and weaving through the chicanes.
But it’s not just the vehicles in the autocross that make it interesting and unique. It’s the fact that where else but the Goodguys autocross can you see a 1957 Chevrolet wagon with four people belted in navigating the cones? We’ve seen some great classic musclecars in autocross and Pro-Touring events all over the country, and the one thing that remains a constant is that it’s great fun to see such awesome vehicles out doing a little racing throughout the day. Sure, we have seen our share of Camaros, Mustangs, and Corvettes, but when was the last time you saw a street rod getting sideways through the cones and smoking the hides a little?
If you’ve never been to the autocross at a Goodguys show, or if you’ve often wondered what all that tire squealing and cheers from the crowd were all about, be sure to follow the crowd. If you love musclecars, hot rods, street rods and classic trucks, and you like a little bit of go-fast mixed in, check out the Goodguys schedule for more information about upcoming events and the autocross. It truly is fun for the whole family – you won’t regret watching the autocross, but you might find yourself checking our your watch and wondering where the time went!
To see the results from this years’ Del Mar Nationals autocross, or any other Goodguys event, check out the autocross section on the Goodguys website. For more pics of some of the best of the best, see the gallery below.