Big-Time Magic in a Small Town
The first day of August 2009 marked SEMA's inaugural Show N Shine, held in Old Town Pasadena, California. Besides being a good excuse to round up the best-of-the-best show vehicles and put them all under one roof, the spectacular benefited SEMA charities: Child Help Village in Beaumont, California-a home for abused and high-risk children and Victory Junction Gang-a camp for children with life-threatening diseases.
Chip Foose was the Grand Marshal, and as an added treat there were several of his personal vehicles on display. The one I was looking forward to seeing was Chip's very first set of wheels: a '56 Ford Big-Window. The first thing I did after entering the Pasadena Convention Center was to track the truck down and get a good in-person look at what the crew at Overhaulin' had done to the F-100 since the last time I saw it, in the early '90s. When I spotted Chip's Big-Window he was standing next to it and before I could get much closer Chip smiled and asked how I was doing. I said good, and then went on to tell him the last time I had seen the '56 it was painted coco brown metallic and was parked in front of his old office at Hot Rods by Boyd on Monroe Street in Stanton, California. It wasn't but a few moments later when the crowd spotted Chip and he disappeared into a swarm of jubilant autograph hounds.
In addition to event coverage I was there to help judge the show. I grabbed a clipboard and began my duties by checking out a brand-new candy apple red Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione that was on display. I wasn't sure if I was supposed to judge a car I thought was factory stock, but nevertheless it sure was cool to look at.
The Hot Rod Alley crew from left to right (below): Nathan, Diane, Bill, Shaun, and Lauren.
Early the next morning I was back in the cab of my black GMC heading 200 miles north to the tiny town of Solvang, California, to shoot Pete Thomsen's '49 Studebaker. Upon seeing the '49 in person, I mentioned to Pete the craftsmanship on the truck was incredible. Pete said the truck was done by Hot Rod Alley in nearby Lompoc. He went on to say it's a family business run by Bill Anderson, his wife, Diane, and their son Shaun. Since the shop was only a hop, skip, and a jump away from Solvang my next stop was a visit to Lompoc.
Opened in January of 2004, Hot Rod Alley is one of those shops that look like a working automobila museum. I started the interview by asking Bill about his background and where had he been before opening the doors to Hot Rod Alley. Prior to '04 Bill had spent the previous 14 years working in Santa Ynez with Sam Foose doing custom paint and bodywork on the vehicles Sam was building. If you're starting to think there was a Foose connection going that weekend you're right, and what made it even weirder was that as I was leaving Lompoc on a windy road out of town, the candy apple red Alfa 8C from the SEMA Show N Shine passed me heading the other way. If you're in the market for big-time quality, and would like to visit a really neat small town give Hot Rod Alley a call at (805) 735-7540.