Goodguys Rodders Right at Home in New England


The first 20 years of the Goodguys Grundy Worldwide Insurance East Coast Nationals were spent in the scenic upstate New York village of Rhinebeck. That’s about as far away from the Pleasanton, CA headquarters of Goodguys as you can get (almost). It was a great 20-year run, but ultimately the event became known as “Rainbeck.” Year after year of wet and gray skies had numbed car count and the buzz was effectively washed away. Great fairgrounds, great host club, great cars, but bad (always bad) weather.


Time For A Venue Change

Early In 2012, the decision was made to pull the plug on Rainbeck. Goodguys Officials scoured the Northeast for the perfect replacement venue, looking to inject new life into a decades old event. Would a Northeast event work in Jersey? Vermont maybe? What about Long Island? Then they stumbled onto the place called “The Big E.” The Big E, also known as The Eastern States Exposition, is billed as New England’s Great State fair. It is the largest cultural event on the eastern seaboard and the sixth largest fair in the nation.


The Big E, centrally located in W. Springfield, Massachusetts is a stately property with wide paved roads, gorgeous centuries-old buildings – an absolutely perfect spot for a Goodguys nationals. The contract was signed, event artwork was drawn up and BAM, just like that, there was a new home for the third decade of the Goodguys East Coast Nationals.


Grabbing the exclusive Goodguys Gazette Pick was the 1928 Stutz Blackhawk brought out to the event by mechanic/handler Dean Rymer. This rolling piece of American motoring history has been continuously road raced since the 50’s. Stutz cars were manufactured in Indianapolis beginning as early as 1911. Pre-depression era hot rodding at its finest!

Father’s Day Fun

This year’s 22nd edition, held Father’s Day weekend, picked up right where last year’s buzz-infused biggie left off. The cars poured in from all over the northeast and points west showing the truly diverse nature of vintage iron up this way. Let’s look at that for a minute. First you have the daily drivers – a hearty bunch of guys with mostly closed cars, beefy suspension (the roads can be dicey in spots up in the Northeast) from places like Southington, Walpole, and the like who tend to say things like “Cahhhh Show.”


Mopar muscle fans were drooling over Mike Toupin’s Fall River, Massachusetts based ’63 Dart GT all weekend long. The SRT8 late model hemi beast is one of the only Pro-Touring style early Mopar’s we’ve seen done up this nicely.

They’re as enthusiastic as any bunch you’ll ever meet. Then there’s the open car guys with roadsters and phaetons who are more seasonal rodders. There’s a small sprinkling of retro roadster guys up that way too. Flat motors, patina, and a Marlboro 100 hanging from their big smiles. Then there’s the absolute plethora of musclecar guys. Literally thousands of ’em all piled in from every state in the East.

We saw so much muscle up here our arms got tired (cheesy pun intended). A lot of big bodied Mopars, Goats, ‘Vettes and early shoebox Chevy muscle too (think Harrison Ford’s black ’55 from American Graffiti). All of ‘em livin the hot rod dream, New England style. And with plenty of different styles and tastes we saw a bit of everything, which is exactly what we love!


The truck that got the most looks all weekend? Hands down that would be Bruce Combini’s radical, channeled ’37 Chevy. A blown small-block, zoomie headers, drag slicks and killer retro styling really hit the mark.

For this event, Goodguys utilizes a brick monstrosity known as the “Better Living Center.” The thing must be at least 200,000 square feet. Inside is a special invite-only cahhhh show, each entrant buffed out like its crossing the Barrett Jackson auction block. All your favorite vendors with smaller booth are in here too.


Inside the Better Living Center is the invite-only portion of the car show featuring the best of the best polished to the nines all under one giant roof.

Outside on the grassy meadows and meandering roadways in between stately old brick and white wooden buildings is the classic outdoor Goodguys show and shine with cars sprawled seemingly forever both left and right. Aesthetically, you’d be hard pressed to find a better looking event and group of cars out there.


Goodguys AutoCross In True Form

With room a-plenty and literally dozens of paved lots at The Big E, finding a suitable spot for the wildly popular Goodguys AutoCross wasn’t an issue. Goodguys AutoCross boss, Trent Summers, laid out a challenging course with the best of everything. Tight turns, sweeping turns, jagged switchbacks and a gnarly, rev-limiter-gnawing finish line straightaway.


Let’s be frank here for a minute. New England isn’t exactly the AutoCross epicenter of the world. However, it’s catching on fast though and that’s the challenge and the reward here. Goodguys introduced it to the nor’easters last year and this year’s car count already doubled.


Chris “Smitty” Smith took home the PRO class AutoCross trophy in his Ridetech equipped 1967 C-10 that looks as good as it runs!

It still has room to grow but a good 40 cars took part this year, giving loads of lap time to anyone who wanted to make their radiator glow. The top 3 (2 Camaros and a C-10 truck) all came in from Ohio to take advantage of the plentiful on-track time but there were plenty of locals on track, including New York’s Kenny “leadfoot” Edwards and his hi-winding ’66 Mustang.

On Sunday, it was like someone opened the floodgates. The new Goodguys All American Sunday program brought in something like 20 late model American cars to flog. The tech line got busy Sunday morning!

When the last cone was picked up and the dust settled, Ohio’s Larry Woo won the coveted “Goodguys AutoCross Shootout Finals” slot in his menacing black ’68 Camaro and Chris “Smitty” Smith took home the PRO class trophy in his Ridetech equipped ’67 C-10. Other winners included Wayne Milelzeik (Truck class) Bob Cross (Hot Rod) and Ben Byrne (All American Sunday).

Feeling All American on Sunday

The Goodguys All American Sunday here in Massachusetts drove one point home with a hammer. Late model muscle is big around these parts! The scene was personified by Colchester, Connecticut’s Niki Hunt who brought out her black and red 2011 Charger. Here was a young lady, as enthusiastic as they come who’d obviously gotten the mod bug.


The Goodguys All American Sunday has become a huge hit coast-to-coast drawing in the younger generations and great late model muscle simultaneously.

Her modded late model Mopar and her great attitude made her an easy choice for an award pick. Over 140 late models came out (including a group of about 15 Challengers who all rolled in together) joined the party along with numerous ‘Stangs, Camaros, and other late model muscle, adding a nice Sunday spark to this year’s East Coast Nationals. It was the best late-model turnout of the year so a major tip of the Goodguys fedora was in order.

Shootout Winners

  • Shootout Winner Larry Woo Cleveland, OH ’69 Camaro 46.123
  • Hot Rod Winner Bob Cross Mt Laurel, NJ ’32 Ford 56.419
  • Street Machine Winner Larry Woo Cleveland, OH ’69 Camaro 46.123
  • Truck Winner Wayne Milelzcik Chicopee, MA
  • All American Sunday Ben Byrne Deerfield, MA 


Third Time’s the Charm?

While the sophomore season of the Goodguys East Coast Nationals in New England was a dandy drawing just a smidge over 1,500 cars and 40,000 for the weekend – the general consensus is, we want to see more rodders hit these east coast gatherings. The weather has been great both years, the hotels, bars, and restaurants are welcoming if not old school (how does 3 “lobstahs” for just $20 bucks sound?) and The Big E is simply spectacular!


One of the true highlights of any Goodguys event is the Model Car Make & Take Program sponsored by Revell. Kids are given a free snap-together model kit to assemble and take home. Future rodders unite!

There’s literally room for the event to nearly triple in size and still fit comfortably inside the majestic Big E show grounds. It’s easily accessible from Canada down to the Carolina’s as well as all points in the Midwest. Come find out for yourself Father’s Day 2014, we’ll see you there!

The Winners Circle 

  • All American Sunday Award – Niki Hunt Colchester, CT – 2011 Charger

    Jay McLaughlin’s Model A from South Hamilton, Mass has a tasty combination of flames and louvers combined.

  • All American Sunday Award – David Pighetti Hopedale, MA – ’99 Ford F350
  • Cool Camaro – Robert Ritcher East Meadow, NY – ’69 Camaro
  • Cool Corvette – Howard Block Plymouth, CT – ’57 Corvette
  • Cool Cruiser – Frank Tomlins Columbia, CT – ’35 Cadillac
  • Fat Fendered Pick – Mark & Mary Wcislo Trumball, CT – ’36 Ford
  • Ford in a Ford – Laura & Danny Bouchard Mystic, CT – ’66 Ford
  • Ford Truck Pick Mike Shea Spencer, MA – ’54 Ford P/U
  • Goodguys Gazette Pick Dean Rymer Springfield, MA – ’28 Stutz
  • Long Distance Award Frank LaVenia West Salem, OH – ’56 Chevy
  • Sexy Sedan Arthur Baskin Chicopee, MA – ’48 Chevy
  • Shoe Box – Bob Keene Southington, CT – ’50 Ford
  • Slick ’60s – Ed Szymansky Shelton, CT – ’61 Cadillac
  • Sooo Low – Gary Dermott Westmoreland, NH – ’48 Ford F-1
  • Best Ride on American Racing Wheels – Jerry Yorek N Bellmore, NY – ’63 Nova
  • Coker Tire Best Wide Whites – Bob Damstrom Sutton, MA – ’40 Ford
  • Wheel Vintiques Best Bitchin’ – Dan Drost Cheshire, CT – ’48 Anglia
  • Best Ride on Billet – Bryan & Karela Jones Penfield, NY – ’36 Ford
  • Chopped and Dropped – Harvey Bagshaw Mattituck, NY – ’56 Chevy
  • Cool Custom – Dan Disco Naples, FL – ’51 Mercury
  • Goodguys Pick – Bob Damstrom Sutton, MA – ’40 Ford
  • Speedway Motors Homebuilt Heaven – Mike Toupin Fall River, MA – ’63 Dodge
  • Hottest Hot Rod – Brian Snell Colchester, CT – ’33 Ford
  • Period Perfect – Jack Szpila East Hampton, MA – ’40 Ford
  • Suede & Chrome – Katie Grobsky Meriden, CT – ’56 Ford
  • Timeless Traditional – Ed Beauchaine Morris, CT – ’31 Ford

Builder’s Choice Winners

  • Frank Chicherchia Airmont, NY ‘- 32 Ford

    Driving off with the Hottest Hot Rod award was Brian Snell’s stanced and louvered ’33 Ford out of Colchester, CT.

  • Douglas Juonis Nashua, NH – ’31 Ford
  • Michael Pucino N. Kingston – ’63 Corvette
  • Dennis & Kathy Wuchiski Stamford, CT – ’32 Ford
  • Bruce Comboni Shelton, CT – ’37 Chevy P/U
  • Adam Ross Gardiner, ME – ’50 Ford
  • Bill & Linda Yorker Canton, CT – ’33 Willys
  • Keith Lefebure London Derry, NH – ’69 Dodge
  • Dave & Sue Ciappa Lockport, NY – ’32 Ford
  • Ron Caicco Mississauga, ONT – ’56 Chevy

For more GG East Coast Nats action check out the GALLERY below:

About the author

Mike Alexander

With over a decade of automotive print and editorial experience, Mike Alexander enjoys shooting and writing about cars, and has several projects cars in his stable.
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