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Mega Gallery: The Hot Rods, Customs, and Classics of Grand National Roadster Show 2020

Gorgeous vintage metal as far as the eye can see.

Tim BernsauWriter, PhotographerJohn GilbertPhotographer

On Wednesday just prior to the 2020 Grand National Roadster Show, the Pomona Fairplex was just starting to show signs of life. The roadsters in competition for America's Most Beautiful Roadster (AMBR) were already in Building 4, taking their first stab at impressing the show judges. The same thing was taking place in Building 6, where initial judging for the Al Slonaker Memorial Award was going on. Most of the rest of the fairground buildings were still empty, dark, and silent.

On Thursday, the place descended into chaos. That was move-in day, when hundreds of street rods, customs, race cars, classic trucks, lowriders, and street machines from literally around the world were rolling in, with owners and build teams rolling out carpet, setting up stanchions and mirrors, and figuring out where to plug in lights for their displays. By the time the gates blew open on Friday and the public poured in, the Grand National Roadster Show was ready for three days of morning-to-night automotive sensory overload. We were there for every minute.

Much of the GNRS takes place indoors in seven separate buildings. The main building is filled with the AMBR car contestants and other elite-level cars, the main stage, the Pinstripers' Charity Auction, and row after row of rod shop and manufacturer displays. The Slonaker Award vehicles share Building 6 with row after row of other knockout rides. Building 9 was devoted to the special display called "Drag Racing Then & Now," and Building 10 was transformed into the Suede Palace, the playground for retro-styled rods and customs. The areas between the buildings were turned over to Drive-In participants—any rodders who wanted to drive to Pomona and show off on Saturday and Sunday.

By dinnertime on Sunday, it came to an end. Minutes after more than 200 awards had been presented, photographers and fans rushed over for a final look at Monty Belsham's 1932 Ford highboy roadster (above), built at Squeeg's Kustoms, which had just won the 2020 America's Most Beautiful Roadster award. One building away, they were doing the same thing with Ron Ernsberger's 1936 Willys pickup from The Tin Man's Garage, winner of the Slonaker Award. Everywhere else, participants were moving out their cars and disassembling their displays, and spectators were hiking to the parking lot. By the time we packed up our cameras and computers, the place was as empty as when we'd arrived. But in our memories, and in these photos, the 71st Annual Grand National Roadster Show goes on. Take a look: