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Billetproof -the world's least important car show
Following on from 2008’s successful inaugural Florida affair at Don Garlits’ Museum of Drag Racing in Ocala, organisers of Billetproof – tongue-in-cheek billed as ‘the world’s least important car shows’ – chose to again set out their stall in the grounds of Big Daddy’s famed historical tribute to the straight-line sport.
Don Garlits himself was on hand to oversee the day’s activities…
Word of the initial event had seemingly spread far and wide, inducing a full-house turnout for this the second annual meeting in the Sunshine State. With entries being restricted to ‘the sickest 1964 or before do-it-yourself traditional rods, kustoms and motorcycles on the planet,’ it would be fair to say that the 600-plus weird, wild, wacky and wonderful examples that made it along to the Saturday show provided an intriguing cross-section of the old-time motoring movement that’s fast gaining momentum.
… and at the same time sell some unwanted stuff at his own garage sale
Billet Proof, as it was billed when the first show was held at the Albany Bowl in Albany, California in 1997, was started by Kirk Jones and Jay Ward, a couple of guys who felt that assembling show cars featuring expensive, specialist-constructed, billet-everything machines for people’s delectation wasn’t necessarily the way to go. They felt that old-school was cool, and judging by the initial success of the first show it was all too obvious there were plenty of like-minded enthusiasts looking to move away from the traditional show format that had been par for the course for many years.
‘29 Tub with $25,000 invested therein could be bought for $18,000 ot thereabouts
Subsequent events were initially confined to the Golden State until, that is, 2003, when a show in Detroit, Michigan was added to the calendar. Washington and Florida were included in the itinerary for 2008, and this year sees the Lone Star State of Texas hosting a mid-summer affair. Effectively spreading the message has created a burgeoning interest in the shows currently taking place in five states, and with the constrained financial climes in which we currently live it could be said that Billetproof has come to the fore at a propitious time.
Glass-fibre-bodied, tubbed ’40/’41 Willys coupe from Outlaw Performance could be procured for a modest $11,500
With the Tampa chapter of the Poor Boys acting as host club, pre-registered vehicles and bikes entered from places far and wide were quickly passed through registration and parked up in serried ranks by the time the deal kicked-off at 9am. And ’twas not too long before the rural facility was crowded both by like-minded enthusiasts and passing motorists on the adjacent Interstate 75 who stopped by to enjoy the best free show around. Yes, there was no admission charge, general parking was gratis and any rip-off prices from catering concessionaires were definitely discouraged. Okay, visitors were urged to support the event through purchase of a souvenir T-shirt, but this aside, folks were, er, free to stroll the parched acreage and take in everything on offer.
This ancient wrecker attracted more attention than many other ol’timers present. The Death Valley hauler was plain ornery lookin' and delightfully different
With live band Knockdown Dragout belting out complementary upbeat nostalgic numbers to the sun-blessed occasion, trade stands doing good business, the museum being inundated with visitors and seemingly everyone enjoying a whale of a day, the well-attended meeting was all too soon brought to an end following due presentation of a dozen or so hand-crafted trophies to those participants deemed most worthy by the judges.
Overall, this was an excellent excursion and one Florida Free for All that surely appeals to all devotees of the dare-to-be-different ilk.
Story & photos: Andy Willsheer
Primered ’53 Buick and ’50 DeSoto Custom Club Coupe were on sale for $10,000 the pair
Low-slung ’35 Ford pickup is motivated by a ’55 Chrysler lump. Like the white pipes top and bottom
International Drag Racing Hall of Fame monument is topped by a bronze depicting Garlits’ blow-over at Englishtown’s NHRA Winston Summernationals in 1986
Jim Hunnewell, posing alongside this unrestored ’33 Miller sprint car, works at the Garlits' museum, as does wife Peggy
A cool time was had by all - including the owner of this chopped, sectioned and channelled Model A sedan
Best Hot Rod trophy was, like all the awards, unusual... pretty much like all the vehicles on display
Primered ’53 Ford F-100 on sale for $5,600 sported a Camaro subframe and bow-tie motivation