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2013 Grand National Roadster Show – An Abbreviated Visit

by Dave on January 27, 2013

This year’s keynote GNRS display was titled “Woodies, Wagons and the Spirit of Aloha.” I was invited to display my ’38 but passed. Our shop has displayed cars at the show the last couple of years and it’s a lot of work. It’s also time-consuming, requiring nearly a week’s commitment. This year I wanted to simply check out the cars and visit with friends. For reasons unanticipated, it turned out to be a good call.

A number of my buddies were displaying their wagons and on Wednesday I headed south to hang out and help them set up. It’s a seven-hour drive to Pomona so I hit the road before sun-up. That afternoon, as we unloaded the grass mats, surfboards and tikis, my wife called. My mother-in-law had just passed away. I turned around and scrambled for home.

Alberta Dumont Chiavaras was born in 1924 in the little hamlet of Camp Crook in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Her family had pioneered the area, but the ravages of the Great Depression drove her dad west in search of work. He landed in Santa Cruz, took a job in construction, and sent for his family.  Alberta, her twin sister Roberta, their older sister and their mom all headed to the coast with their belongings strapped to the top and running boards of a Model A Ford.

In Santa Cruz Alberta’s dad built houses while her mom worked down the road from our shop at the Seabright Cannery. In 1942 “Al and Ro” graduated from Santa Cruz High and quickly found themselves caught up in the war effort. The twins went to work for Pan Am as riveters, their petite size allowing them to climb into the cramped spaces of the flying boats Pan Am was converting for war-time action. Both Al and Ro are noted today on a memorial at the “Rosie the Riveter” National Historic Park in Richmond on San Francisco Bay.

Alberta was part of what Tom Brokaw called the “Greatest Generation” and, while she had been ill for sometime and her passing was merciful, it was not without sadness. Thanks for your contributions to your country Al, and thanks especially for your wonderful daughter, my wife of 35 years. You will be missed.

Twin Rosies1942. A couple of Rosie the Riveters: Alberta and Roberta Dumont.

While my trip was abbreviated, I did shoot a few photos. Here we’re lined up for load-in at the showgrounds. The ’40 woodie belongs to Bob Lopez of South Lake Tahoe. I drove the shoebox woodie and towed the Baja Bug for my friend Jim Cocores. Jim drove the Sampan he owns with Mick Carolan.
Back CameraSAMPANrear

Bob and I were the first cars into Building 9.
Lopez Bldg 9

The Manuel Betes roadster was in line next to us. With its filled fender openings and frenched taillights, it was quite a styler in its day. It’s still powered by its original four-port Riley. About the time my wife’s mom was graduating from Santa Cruz High, this little roadster turned 107.52 on Rosamond Dry Lake.

Manuel Betes_1 Manuel Betes_2Manuel Betes_3

The gang at Roy Brizio’s built this AMBR contender for John Mumford. It’s powered by a little V8-60 with ultra-rare Ardun heads. The Rodders Journel did an in-depth write-up when the car was in bare metal. It has to be seen up close to appreciate the craftsmanship.  Jack Stratton, behind the car in the blue sweatshirt, was a key fabricator on the project.

Mumford 1Mumford 2

Caught off-guard by the events at home, I didn’t have the opportunity to shoot more photos. Fortunately there are a couple of websites with lots of shots.

Jimmy B on the HAMB provided a photo review of this year’s refreshingly sedate AMBR contender cars. (The one exception was the Munster’s Coach-style phaeton with a massive vintage Rolls Royce engine). You can also view a multi-page post of many of the show’s cars here, taken on set-up Thursday.

UPDATE!  By serendipity, the only AMBR contender I photographed, John Mumford’s T roadster above, took home the nine foot trophy. Congrats to all those involved — past and present — in the building of America’s Most Beautiful Roadster.



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