Words: Anna Marco; Photos: Anna Marco, Mike Basso & Alan Zusman
Dedicated to George Barris, Bill Hines, Gary Fioto
This downtown cruise is so successful that the City of Santa Maria is going to have to lengthen Broadway just to fit all the cars in!
Every May, Santa Maria, California, becomes a mecca for custom car enthusiasts and car clubs. This year, over 850 vehicles and 4000 spectators swarmed the fairgrounds for a peek at the coolest kustoms in town.
Car people camaraderie at this event is akin to a family reunion and folks wait all year to share new builds with each other. Oz Welch and John Aiello were inducted into the WCK Hall of Fame, and heartfelt tributes were given to George Barris and Bill Hines, who both passed away recently. Sadly, Gary “Chopit” Fioto passed away suddenly right after the show.
Rock, Roll & Repeat
Besides the Friday night cruise, there’s a lot to do in Santa Maria on Memorial Day weekend from bingeing on BBQ to the swing dancing cocktail party on Saturday night at the Rancho Bowl. Bands play all weekend (Vicky Tafoya & The Big Beat, Aileen Quinn & The Leaping Lizards, Moonlight Trio), the Pinstripers Brush Bash hosted by East Coast Artie and crew offers unique art, vendor swag is top notch and the charity auction raises funds for Alzheimer’s research in honor of Rich Pichette, founder of West Coast Kustoms.
Best of all, the beautiful array of customs and hot rods glittering in the sun gives one the perfect opportunity to make new friends and reconnect with old ones. The Legends Autograph Session is a meet-and-greet with iconic fabricators we admire and Sunday’s swap meet is a treasure hunt. The art auction saw a bidding war for customized Barris and Blackie Gejeian shop barrels, and Squindo’s sketch of Bill “Leadslinger” Hines went to Hall of Fame fabricator Keith Dean as a birthday present!
Judging this event in any category (including skate decks and model cars) is tough. Congratulations to all winners! Top honors went to Luke Karosi (Rich Pichette Memorial Award), Chris Rubio (The Mayor’s Award), Bob Zimmermann (Bill Hines Award), Kyle Gann (Gene Winfield Award), Leslie Carlson (Larry Watson Award), Evan Zocchi (Darryl Hollenbeck Award) and Richie Valles (Barris Award).
The KKOA Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Paul Rick for “his outstanding dedication to the kustom car industry.” As owner of All Pro Glass, Paul has installed over 4500 pieces of chopped or replacement glass in award winning show cars.
Last but not least, our Rodz DeLuxe trophies were aced by the Sakuragi Brothers for Best Kustom with their Gene Winfield built radical 1952 Chevy “Desert Sun” (soon to be featured in CKD) and Fred Lange for Best Hot Rod. We also present several awards at the model car contest hosted by Kustom and Hot Rod Models Magazine and were especially impressed with Big Ben’s “Black Zulu,” a little black coupe fabricated from pins, popsicle sticks and paper clips. We are definitely going to need more trophies next year! Be there to get one!