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The Big Birthday Party:
Grand National, August 2002
by Julian Cangelosi

     This year’s Grand National was the third I have attended. It was easily the greatest and grandest, and without question the largest. I was also very impressed with the organizational structure, the attention to detail, and the way they involved so many people to pull it off.

     The Hyatt Regency Dearborn was an excellent site to host such an event. The hotel and meeting rooms were easily accessible and, more importantly, the hotel was surrounded by parking lots. The hotel was in regular operation even with us taking the majority of their rooms and parking. The show car parking and the swap meet took up two full parking lots.

It would be difficult to find a 1931 Cadillac with ugly styling.

     I arrived very late Tuesday night by plane and left Saturday afternoon after the rolling awards presentation but prior to the Saturday evening banquet. The only other region members that I saw there were Ed Cholakian, who was busy working, Joel Shapiro, and Jerry Krumm. (Jerry was dressed in a coat and tie!

     While at the GN, I went to several of the side events. The cocktail reception, hosted at the General Motors Corporate Headquarters had to be attended by bus. On returning to our buses, each of us received a special gift, a shadow box holding all Cadillac crests ever used, a very beautiful and obvious collector’s item.

A 1934 La Salle convertible coupe

     I also went to the Cadillac Division museum, the Mustang manufacturing plant and a cemetery. We went on the cemetery tour because Ford changed times on us at the last minute and wouldn’t let us into the Mustang plant until much later than scheduled, so the bus took us to the cemetery, which was in the vicinity. The tour included the graves of Henry Ford, Henry Leland and David Buick.

     When I signed up to attend the convention, I volunteered to help with the judging. Because I thought I could not stay all day, I became a runner and not a judge on Friday.

The ‛67s start down the judging line as a ‛66 finishes

     Early in the morning all of the judges and runners met for breakfast. Paul Ayres, Chief Judge, explained what he wanted to accomplish and how to do it. In this meeting he selected the judging team captains and the other judges to work with them at each station. When he finished his comments, we watched a video on judging (I believe from CCCA). It was a good video and helpful.

     One of the criteria they tried to follow was that they wanted the same set of eyes to judge every car, a terrific concept. This worked great, except that they had two judging lanes running, although they tried to have all the cars in a class run through the same lane.

A 1949 Coupe de Ville

     Runners wore green vests, which we kept. Judges wore white, and all the big wheels wore gold. As a runner, I picked up three clipboards with judging sheets and the car at the starting point, where the owners checked in when called. I then escorted the car through the six checkpoints. The drivers never saw the judging sheets. In fact, most of them stayed in their cars at each stop.

A 1950 Series 62 sedan

     I gave the clipboards to the three judges at each stop. When the judges finished marking, I took the clipboards and the car to the next stop. At the end of the judging lane, I took the clipboards to the judging trailer while the driver waited. The Scantron judging sheets were processed to be sure they were fully readable by the computer before I released the car and driver. I personally escorted about a dozen cars and stayed until judging ended at about 3:00 p.m.

     This was a very efficient system, in part because there were lots of volunteers. Over 260 cars were judged in two days.

Although Harley Earl had warned that the proportions would be off, Harold “Bill” Boyer, an exec. vice-president who ran a tank factory for GM during the Korean War, ordered this custom “roadster”. It is a ‛51-‛52 hybrid on a shortened chassis. The car was probably dark metallic red originally. See also Self-Starter Annual, Vol. XXI.

     On Saturday, there was an awards presentation with each winner driving through the judging area to receive the award. CLC’ers lined the road, giving recognition as the cars drove by.

     I was totally blown away by the quality of the vehicles at this Grand National. Truly, this event celebrating 100 years of Cadillac brought out the best of the best. Almost every car in every class was an outstanding example.

Shadow box of Cadillac emblems which GM gave reception attendees

    One man said he spent $110,000 restoring his 1966 Coupe de Ville. The car looked better than new. That is, the restoration removed most of the factory imperfections and was to concours level. The owner said to me, “One thing led to another and I guess I just got carried away!” No kidding!!

Congratulations to regional members Jack and Carol Frank, whose ‘35 V-12 took First Prize in the Senior Division class for all V-12 and V-16 cars.

GN photos courtesy of Julian Cangelosi


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Date Last Updated: September 26, 2018
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