Jamming the Gears for Over 30 Years
RISK. It’s an inherent factor in every business endeavor. Mix in passion, drive, vision and persistence, and you’ve got the makings of eventually a successful enterprise.
Back in the early ’80s Gary Meadors had a vision to create a show series where hot rod and classic car and truck enthusiasts could come together to show off their vehicles, cruise, bench race and bond over the sights of glistening paint and chrome and sounds of crackling cams and thumping exhausts. A devout gearhead himself, Gary had a deep-rooted passion for all things hot rod. Having had experience in promoting hot rod shows since 1973 and working for the National Street Rod Association as the premier event director, Gary possessed pure passion for the world of hot rodding and experience in what it took to pull o a successful event.
He rowed the gears of determination, doubled down on his passion and took the show on his own road and started Goodguys in 1983 and incorporated in 1987. With his wife Marilyn and boys Marc and Marty by his side Goodguys accelerated through the decades and today has fl ourished to a membership of over 70,000 people and 19 events that corral some of the nation’s fi nest hot rods and more importantly people together.
Sadly, Gary Meadors passed on Dec. 27, 2015, leaving behind a hot rodding legacy and tradition in Goodguys that his family and long time devoted staff continues today. Street Trucks caught up with longtime friend and Goodguys Senior Editor John Drummond to capture the history of Goodguys Rod & Custom Association. Fasten your lap belts, grip the shifter, plant the fun pedal and hang on for this camshaft thumping, tire burning, rev limiter tappin’ look into the world of Goodguys.
STREET TRUCKS: What year did Gary and Marilyn Meadors start Goodguys Rod & Custom Association? How did it begin?
JOHN DRUMMOND/ GOODGUYS: In 1987, Gary and Marilyn incorporated and that was the first full year of the Goodguys show series. It began and was born out of Gary’s previous experience promoting hot rod shows since 1973. Having previously worked for NSRA as the premier event director, Gary took his knowledge of how to promote and set up and run events, and teamed it with his passion for hot rodding, and he and his wife Marilyn launched Goodguys.
ST: How many shows are there today?
JD/GOODGUYS: We host 19 shows per year.
ST: What was the original show/event, and where was it located? Was the company originally run out of the Meadors’ home?
JD/GOODGUYS: The very fi rst Goodguys event was dubbed the All-American Get Together. It was held in 1983 in Pleasanton, California, at the Alameda County Fairgrounds. The Meadors family was the original “staff ”—Gary, Marilyn, Marty and Marc Meadors worked together and ran Goodguys in the early days right from their kitchen table. During the formative years of the company, Gary and Marilyn took out multiple loans against their home in Alamo, California, to build the Goodguys name. Their passion and persistence paid off.
ST: How many employees does Goodguys have today?
JD/GOODGUYS: Over 30.
ST: Recently Goodguys expanded its year allotment to 1987. Can you talk about that?
JD/GOODGUYS: The baby boomer generation is transitioning into a life stage where they can’t go hot rodding as robustly as they once did. The industry is growing at a rapid pace with performance parts and accessories to outfit post ’73 cars and trucks. The makeup and the landscape of our hobby is changing where the middle-aged hot rodder is building a vehicle he/she grew up with or maybe had in high school and they want to relive those memories. The age of those attendees aligns with later model vehicles to serve as the hot rodding platform.
ST: Having been with Goodguys a long time now, how have you seen the shows change as far as vehicle popularity, age range of attendees, events within events, etc.?
JD/GOODGUYS: I have been with Goodguys 28 years. In fact, my first interview was in the Meadors family kitchen. Throughout the years of working the event series, I have seen the trends change from the blown pro street ’41 Willy’s pastel wearing 80s to the smoothie cars of the 90s and 2000s to the Rat Rod movement. We then shifted into Pro Touring and Resto Mods, and lately traditional hot rods have been all the rage with a big splash being made in post ’73 vehicles, especially C10 pickup trucks. I make it a point to spend about an hour standing at the front gate at every Goodguys event during Saturday roll-in to get a visual snapshot of what is “trending.” By my observation in recent years a solid 65 percent of the vehicles rolling into our events are post-’50s/’60s cars and trucks. It used to be a sea of ’32 roadsters, Model As, ’30s and ’40s Fat Fender cars. Regarding events within events, we have gone from “lawn chairs to seatbelts” where a portion of our attendees want to drive and compete with their hot rods. Auto Cross has become a staple at our events where enthusiasts can get some accelerated, corner carving seat time. It’s fun for spectators to watch and listen to as well. Our Goodguys Road Tours provide an opportunity for attendees to enjoy their hot rod out on the highway with other hot rodding enthusiasts. Goodguys has always had the motto of “Ya Gotta Drive ‘Em”!
ST: When did the Goodguys Gazette come to life and become part of the Goodguys membership package?
JD/GOODGUYS: In 1989. It started as a bi-monthly 40-page black and white rag, and over all of these years has evolved into a monthly full-color publication. It gives us a chance to capture the “experience” of our events and for our members to relive them. We know that even when our hot-rodding membership is not behind the wheel of their pride and joy, they are likely arm chair hot rodding from their Lazy Boy. The Gazette helps re-create the experience.
ST: What does the future hold for Goodguys Rod & Custom Association? Expansion of events?
JD/GOODGUYS: I think we are always open to expansion. We are committed to providing a platform for hot rodding to continue to “show o” whichever direction the industry and the trends go.
ST: Marc Meadors is running Goodguys today. Any other family involved in the day-to-day?
JD/GOODGUYS: Marilyn Meadors is a board member. Marc Meadors of course serves as president, COO.
ST: What’s Your Favorite Part of your role at Goodguys? What do you enjoy most about the events?
JD/GOODGUYS: Really cool cars and people. We are in the entertainment business. Enjoying all of the bitchin cars! I would be screwed if I had to go get a real job.
ST: What do event goers seem to love most about Goodguys events? The cruising? The quality of the iron in attendance? The laid back atmosphere? The variety of sights, sounds, etc.?
JD/GOODGUYS: All of the above. We rent great, logistically placed venues. Real car guys and gals attend our events. It’s a people business! The cool cars and trucks are the catalyst.
GOODGUY EVENTS DELIVER!
AUTHOR Travis Noack describes what he likes best about Goodguys events: “What I like most is the reliability of them. What I mean by that is I know I can count on having a great time while I’m there. Goodguys events deliver the goods! Not only do I enjoy looking at all of the bitchin’ cars and trucks, but with the cruising that occurs at all Goodguys events I get to hear and enjoy the rumble of the exhausts and the crackle of the camshafts as I watch the polished wheels turn. There is ‘motion’ in these events, which celebrate American hot rodding and cruising culture at its finest. “The Autocross and Cacklefest add another dimension of noise candy and motion that bring ‘action’ and ‘excitement’ to the event experience. The swap-meet appeals to the memorabilia collector and gem hunter in me while I know the event experience will be filled with great conversations with fellow enthusiasts. I can always count on having a great time while I’m there.”