TR Robertson -Hundreds and hundreds of people filled the streets of Downtown Historic Vista on Sunday as they wandered around the area looking at the classic cars and rods taking part in the 33rd annual Vista Rod Run. The morning began with a bit of a cool overcast but by noon the sun had broken through to warm things up. Local eateries were filled with customers either arriving for early morning breakfast or showing up later for lunch before strolling around to see the amazing custom work car owners had put into their cars and hot rods. People could be seen speaking with the owners about their vehicles, asking about the engines or the custom paint jobs or how long it had taken to complete the work they had put into their cars. Over 300+ entries were vying for 28 trophies in a variety of categories. The awards for the categories would be announced later in the day.
All Photos by Brian Robertson
The Vista Rod Run kicked off at 9 am with the introduction of Debra Sweet performing the National Anthem at the Center Court area at the end of Broadway. The North San Diego Young Marines from Vista Color Guard brought in the American Flag for the anthem. The North San Diego Young Marines also had a large tent area offering a chance for people to purchase raffle tickets for numerous gift baskets. The Young Marines is the organization selected this year as the group to receive assistance. The group meets each Saturday at the Antique Gas & Steam Engine Museum in Vista. Debbie Medrano, from Events by Five Star, welcomed those in attendance and told the crowd the award winners would be announced later in the afternoon. Along with the cars, specialty auto vendors, organizations and food vendors set up tents to offer additional opportunities for Rod Run attendees. Some of the groups in attendance included Larry the Toy Man, Enjo, Ms King, Little Thai Cottage, Handel’s, Leaf Filter, Best Pizza and Brew, Shaved Ice and many more. Raising Canes was set up offering free lemonade and sweet tea.
As we wandered the streets, we noticed several car clubs were set up with many of their members cars located close to their tents. Scott Wise, from Shafters, said his group had 11 cars entered. They are from the Fallbrook and Bonsall area. He was showing his 2001 Chrysler Prowler that he had purchased from a Honda dealer. Scott was watching their tent as other group members were at Mom’s Kitchen for breakfast. The Drifters SoCal Car Club from Murrieta was once again well represented with 26 cars entered. Viejitos Car Club from North San Diego had 4 cars entered. They said the group had been in existence since 1985 and had 73 chapters all around the world. The San Diego Woodie Club was represented with Jim Hallsted’s 1947 Woodie Station Wagon.
As we walked past the amazing selection of cars, speaking with the owners was a chance to meet people who were very proud of the work they had put into their cars and loved showing off the cars to the public. One owner, Mike ViMeglio, had a beautiful red 1930 Ford Sedan he was displaying. Mike said it had taken 7 years to complete the work on his car. He was parked next to a popular and very unique display of 4 cars that are part of what is known at Rat Rods. These very unusual cars are a mix of some of the strangest and weirdest combinations of items you could put on a vehicle. People spent time looking around the cars to find what weird thing would appear next.
A number of classic Stingray Corvettes were on display in different locations. One group of friends (Clay Collins, Dick Peterson, Steve Wood) had entered their cars, a ’69 Mustang, a ’79 VW and a ’68 Stingray. Ed Mathews proudly showed off his ’60 Austin Healey Sprite. In speaking with Ron Rictmyer, from San Marcos, he said he had purchased his 1958 Austin Healey 100-6 for $20,000 but had put over $40,000 into it the vehicle to make it street safe.
There were a number of lowriders on display. One beauty was a dark blue ’50 Chevy Deluxe convertible we came across (owners name not listed) and Jonell Laxa’s ’59 Buick. One unusual car we came across was a light blue ’54 Sunbeam Talbot Alpine Roadster from England. A Talbot Alpine Roadster convertible was once used in an old James Bond movie. Flames used in the paint job of many of the cars were a popular design. One especially beautiful paint job using flames was on the copper colored ’49 Mercury belonging to Alberto Amal. On a corner spot Peter Nguyen’s 2008 black Dodge Viper brought a lot of people to look at the car. One of the oldest cars on display was Tobey Vopat’s ’23 Ford Model T. I also found a ’29 Ford Sedan, belonging to Ronnie Johns, like the car I learned to drive when I lived in DeSoto, Texas. One of the classiest cars we came across was Walt Lewis’s ’58 red Chevrolet Impala, with a clean paint job and amazing chrome work. Richard Ivokovich’s ’57 pink Cadillac even had a full-sized Elvis cut-out you could take a picture with. There were several electric vehicles featured like Doug Emley’s 100% electric Volkswagen Square back.
It was clear everyone attending the Rod Run was having a good time. One group found Dave Smith and Andy Meh pushing Harper and Darby (Dave’s grandchildren) in fiberglass small lowriders, made by Vista Flying Iron. The Rod Run was also an opportunity for some to consider purchasing some of the vehicles on display as there were several of them for sale. These included a ’30 Ford Sedan for $40,000, a ’46 Chevy Pick-up with 350,000 miles on it (call for the price), and a ’48 Chevy Stylemaster (no price listed). These were just a few of the vehicles for sale.
The Vista Rod Run is a popular Labor Day weekend event and a great way to spend a few hours in Downtown Historic Vista, support local eateries, see some beautiful, classic vehicles and enjoy meeting some new folks that have put a tremendous amount of time and work into their passion.
33rd Annual Vista Rod Run Award Winners
Best of Show – 1959 Chevy Impala – owner first name Wayne
Best Custom – 1959 Ford Woody – Joe Free
Best 1930 – 1931 Ford Coupe – Louis Garcia
Best Muscle Car – 1963 Ford Galaxy 427 – Lohn Storms
Most Original – 1958 4 Door Cadillac – Jerry Boucher
Best Original Truck – 1973 Ford F100 – David Tumino
Best Low Rider – 1963 SW Chevy – Albert Fletes
Best Modern Custom – 1970 Chevy Chevelle – Rafael Fernandez
Best 1950 – 1957 Ford T-Bird – Donna Shandle
Best 1940 – 1949 Mercury – Alberto Arnal
Best Chrome – 1923 Ford T-Bucket – Derek Tipps
Best Original Ford – 1957 Ford Fairlane – Richard Ivkovich
Best Graphics – 1929 Ford Sedan – Ronnie Johns
Under Construction – 1962 Ford Falcon – Ben Barragan
Best Original Chevy – 1968 Chevy Corvair – Scott Akrie
Best Young Guns – 1959 Buick Invicta – Jonell Laxa
Best Rat Rod – 1940 Chevy Rat Rod – John Paul
Biggest Car Club – The Drifters from Murrieta – 26 cars entered
Drivers Choice Winners –
Ivory Anderson Jr – 1967 Pontiac GTO
Curtis Anderson 1968 Chevy Chevelle SS
Dana Stevens – 1956 Chevy Nomad
Jason Sacco – 1973 Ford Bronco
Dennis Mendoza – 1960 Chevy Apache
Jim Wayman – 1957 Ford Thunderbird
Wayne Hartig – 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air Convertible
Cynthia Mallet – 1968 Chevrolet Camero RS
Votaire Vergara – 1959 Buick LeSabre
Randy Pickering 1970 Ford Boss 302 Mustang