The trip of a lifetime by Tootall (Paul Dorrington)
I was thrilled when this invitation from legendary striper Herb Martinez dropped into my inbox in mid December.
But gutted at the same time, as I was pretty sure that I simply couldn’t afford to go. But, with the help, support and encouragement of my Wife and my fellow Rodders, I found myself looking out the window of a plane, at the Los Angeles cityscape in mid January. This was it - my first trip to the US and it promised to be the trip of a lifetime.
Herb met me at LAX, took me for the biggest burger I had seen in a long time and then back to his buddy Thumper’s place in Pomona. Thumper and his Wife Flo were to be my hosts for the entirety of my stay (although that’s not how it was planned to start with). More about Thumper and his garage later.
Day one and it was off to the Petersen museum in downtown LA. Yes, I did say museum…but it’s not just any old museum – this is a Hot Rod Museum. A great place to visit from the moment I stepped out of the car and was confronted by this.
An amazing truck that looked to me like it was straight out of Thunderbirds.
Once inside, the exhibits proved to be impressive. Cars I have spent much of my life drooling over in magazines and books, close enough to touch! And I managed to get told off for touching a couple of them. But as I told the guard, I waited 40 years and travelled 7000 miles to see the Outlaw – do you really expect me not to reach over the rope and touch it?
It was pretty cool to be standing there looking at cars that I had toys of when I was a kid. The special exhibition was a hall full of Steve McQueen’s cars and bikes but of course, what I was really there to see was the hot rods.
I was impressed already, just by the cars in the Petersen – little did I realise what was in store for me when we arrived at the Fairplex in Pomona. Herb suggested that we take in the NHRA museum first, though it was 4:30 by the time we got there. The museum was supposed to close at 5 but Herb thought it may stay open longer as the GNRS was open until 9. Having checked that it was open, Herb left me at the door and went to park the car. I guess he was gone for about 15 minutes and I spent the whole time standing and gazing at this – a clone of the Matranga Merc. Just stunning!
It was so beautiful that I barely noticed this parked next to it.
Or this, jut a few feet away!
But I did manage to get a good look at these, many of them cars that feel like they have, in some way, shaped my life. I’ve certainly been inspired by them.
Look at that! Tommy Ivo’s T, complete with VonDutch striping!
Yeah, I know, all this beautiful machinery and here I am getting all excited about a couple of painted feet. But hey, I’m a striper and it’s Dutch’s work!
From the museum, it was into the show itself and if I had been impressed so far (and I had), then I wasn’t prepared for what was to come. For those of you who have never been, the GNRS is held at the Fairplex in Pomona and it’s ‘kin huge! The car show fills 6 or 7 buildings, each of which would comfortably hold at least 2 football pitches. Herb took me straight to the suede room as this was where we were to be striping the next day. In here were all the so called ‘Rat Rods’ and some very nice drag cars.
To be honest, calling some of these cars Rats is an insult. Although they are in suede paint, they are still beautifully finished.
Take this one for example. It may look unfinished but those of you who know your coupes will instantly be able to tell that this car is glass as they were never offered as a 3 window! I had a sneaky feel of the fender and I can tell you that the fake rust even felt real, the texture was just right as well as the appearance.
Here are a few more from the suede room.
From there it was into the next room where we met Von Hot Rod, the striper who had organised the reunion. I didn’t get to see too much more of the show that day as we spent a couple of hours chatting to folk and supping beers. It was very cool though to find that there are folk in LA who keep a regular watch on my website and admire my striping as much as I admire theirs.
So after a dinner in the hotel on the Fairplex and a few more beers, it was back to Thumper’s and off to bed. In all honesty, at this point, if I had been put back on the plane and sent home the trip would have been worthwhile! Little did I know what was to come.
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