Cruisin Nationals Santa Maria, Fuel Curve

Cruisin Nationals Santa Maria… Where Customs are King

Kustoms are the undisputed king of the Cruisin’ Nationals held each spring. Produced by the West Coast Kustoms – the event is steeped in traditional sleds and hot rods.

Cruisin Nationals Santa Maria, Fuel Curve

For 362 days a year the mid-coastal city of Santa Maria, California is known for its wineries and world-famous barbecue. But for three days over Memorial Day weekend, Santa Maria becomes the mecca for the custom car world. It’s hard to believe this year the West Coast Kustoms Cruisin’ Nationals celebrated its 10th anniversary at its “new home” after leaving its original location in nearby Paso Robles in 2008.

Cruisin Nationals Santa Maria, Fuel Curve

Candy-colored paint, fades, flames and fins took center stage at one of the largest custom car shows on the planet, drawing hot rods and aficionados from all over the West Coast and beyond. For example, Paul McKennariey brought his 1948 custom Hudson all the way from Brisbane, Australia, and the kustom contingent from Japan was also well represented.

Cruisin Nationals Santa Maria, Fuel Curve

The WCK Hall of Fame ceremony officially kicked off the event Friday afternoon with the induction of three new members: Butch Hurlhey, Dave Crook and Ian Roussel. They joined a list of who’s who in the hot rodding world; the WCK Hall of Fame started in 1982, and its first two inductees were Gene Winfield and the late Joe Bailon.

Cruisin Nationals Santa Maria, Fuel Curve

Cruisin Nationals Santa Maria, Fuel Curve

Winfield, who still works on cars in his Mojave, CA, shop, is a regular at the Cruisin’ Nationals and this year was no exception. Winfield brought the Jade Idol (a 1956 Mercury) to Santa Maria and visited with fans all weekend.

Cruisin Nationals Santa Maria, Fuel CurveCruisin Nationals Santa Maria, Fuel Curve

The Friday night cruise in front of the historic Santa Maria Inn is a fan favorite where people young and old line up along Broadway Boulevard to catch a glimpse of hundreds of custom cars in action before making their way into the show on Saturday morning.

Cruisin Nationals Santa Maria, Fuel Curve

Cruisin Nationals Santa Maria, Fuel Curve

Nearly 800 pre-1961 American-made cars jammed every inch of the Santa Maria Fairpark on Saturday, and thousands of gearheads followed. It was easy to see why: In addition to being a huge custom car show, the Cruisin’ Nationals had a wide variety of vendors, a model car contest and live music courtesy of the Drive-In Romeos and Big Sandy and his Fly-Rite Boys.

Cruisin Nationals Santa Maria, Fuel Curve

Cruisin Nationals Santa Maria, Fuel CurveCruisin Nationals Santa Maria, Fuel Curve

It was also a great place to score some original art and help out a worthy cause: Several talented pinstripers donated their artwork to the popular Santa Maria Brush Bash Panel Jam and Charity Auction to raise money for Alzheimer’s Awareness.

Cruisin Nationals Santa Maria, Fuel Curve

Cruisin Nationals Santa Maria, Fuel CurveCruisin Nationals Santa Maria, Fuel Curve

Year after year, the Cruisin’ Nationals continues to showcase the best that the custom car world has to offer. Whether it’s historic cars, new builds or barn finds, you can bet that you will see it in Santa Maria.

Cruisin Nationals Santa Maria, Fuel Curve

So, if you’ve never been, make that trip to California’s central coast next Memorial Day weekend, you won’t regret it.

Photo Extra!

Growing up just miles from Fremont Drag Strip where his father both worked and raced throughout the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, Marc Gewertz was exposed to the excitement, color, and pageantry of hot rodding at an early age. During junior high, he began taking his Nikon camera to the dragstrip to capture the action and the people behind all those fast cars. With a penchant for being in the right place at the right time, he quickly developed a reputation as being one of rac­ing’s rising young photographic talents.

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