Every winter for more than four decades there has come a point when the custom car and street rod world starts "Livin' On Tulsa Time." For 2006 it was February 17-19 when the 42nd annual Darryl Starbird National Rod & Custom Car Show rolled into Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Starbird's Tulsa event has been one of the biggest indoor car shows in the Midwest for about as long as anyone can remember. This year was no different. With more than 1,100 vehicles from all aspects of the auto world crammed into one building-one gigantic building-the show awes spectators with its size. In fact, the Expo Square building spans two levels and boasts 448,400 square feet of column-free space under a cable-suspended roof. Up top resides customs, rods, trucks, musclecars ... pretty much any style of vehicle or four-wheeled oddity you can imagine. Down below are monster truck races, freestyle motocross exhibitions, and a tough truck competition, which are all added bonuses for common showgoers. As for the dyed-in-the-wool car guys, the cars are enough to talk the talk and walk the walk.
Those who made the journey in low-double-digit temperatures to congregate at the show were hit with a sack of cool customs to wet their whistles. This year's event had representatives from all over the custom world showing off their latest creations. Whether you're into the latest trends or prefer to be stuck in the '50s and '60s, each generation of showgoers could get its fill.
Adding to the spirit of the show is the Go for the Gold award, now in its third year. The award is open to any and all who wish to contend. Initially, the playing field is narrowed down to the Fine Nine, but in the end there's only one vehicle that will win. The conditions are simple: This must be the first time the car has been shown in Tulsa, and it must exhibit outstanding design, creativity, engineering, and execution. The winner gets the coveted award and a fat stack of cash-$20,000 to be exact. This year, Gary "Chop It" Fioto, who is no stranger to most Custom Rodder readers, took home the honors with his wild and unique bubbletop custom.
As if all that weren't enough, there was one more special attraction this year: the National Rod & Custom Car Hall of Fame Museum induction ceremonies. It has been 10 years since Starbird got the museum up and running, and as all who read this column are aware, each year new members are inducted into the Hall of Fame. Members are inducted in one of four categories-rod, custom, design, and lifetime achievement. The ceremony has traditionally been held on the museum grounds in the summer, but this year it took place during a special Saturday night banquet at the Tulsa show. The 2006 class included Darrell Mayabb (designer), Norm Grabowski (rod), and Dick Scully (custom car). This year's Lifetime Achievement recipient was show promoter, enthusiast, and all-around hobby ambassador Blackie Gejeian.
Given all the activity, it's easy to see why Starbird's Tulsa show has been going strong for 42 years. It's enough to make any car enthusiast want to live on Tulsa time, if only for a weekend.