Temecula, California is best known for being home to some of Southern California’s best wineries and antique shops, but what you may not know is Temecula is also home to the biannual Temecula Rod Run. This show attracts custom vehicles from all over California with about 700 custom cars, and trucks in attendance.
Oh yeah, you can’t beat the weather, either. We’re not trying to rub it in to you folks living in the states where you need to shovel your driveway just to get to work in the morning, but where else can you can walk down the middle of Main Street wearing a t-shirt and shorts looking at cool custom vehicles, eating great food and listening to live bands in mid-March?
We were on-hand to watch the activities up close and personal. Well, we didn’t invade anyone’s personal space, but we did meet a lot of very cool people, car owners and excited spectators alike. The show actually started Friday night with the annual Main Street Cruise. It almost seemed like a scene from American Graffiti with roadsters, hot rods, and custom trucks cruising by the rustic-looking shops that line both sides of the street.
All the shops stayed open late so the warm lights, laughing people and the live music made for a surreal adventure. In other words, it was dang cool. Hanging out on the corner at night watching vintage kustoms cruise was awesome and we stayed ’till Temecula’s finest said, “You don’t have to go home but you can’t stay here.”
What they meant was the cruise was over and Main Street was now open to public traffic.
The next Saturday was busy! When you drive a vehicle that tends to use a lot of gas, and with gas prices as they are, you try to conserve. I think we drove for about 20 minutes trying to find a parking spot. Finally about four blocks away, we found a dirt parking lot and then trucked across to the show.
It’s not the best for the spectator’s convenience, but it’s a good sign that there’s plenty of rides to check out.
As we made our way down the busy street, we saw vehicles of nearly every make and model under the sun. We didn’t know where to begin! But it didn’t take long because excited car owners were all too eager to point us in the right direction, which was right to their pride and joy. It’s always a good time to mingle with car owners, you know why? ‘Cause they always have the best stories.
One story was from a guy who owned a ’23 T-bucket. He told us about his obsession with T-buckets at the early age of ten, and chasing one at a parade to get a better look. Years later as an adult, he now owns a very clean T-bucket. Now we don’t encourage chasing cars down the street but we do encourage chasing your dream of owning that classic ride.
The cars were cool, and the live bands made it cooler. Over at the Edlebrock-sponsored stage, several bands were taking their place on the lineup. One of the few bands we got a chance to see were “Beulah and the Beat.” Founding members, lead guitarist Mike and his bass playing wife Beulah head up this four-piece rock band and they were awesome.
We wanted to stay and get our groove on but, we were working, so it was off to get something to eat. Boy did we have choices! You could have hot dogs, cotton candy, funnel cakes, shaved ice, tri-tip sandwiches, tacos and more. We settled on two dollar street tacos, from a very cool place called the Natural Juice bar and deli…and we do mean street.
Caddy's are still the favorite of rod builders. This one is super clean.
Jesus, the co-owner of the restaurant, was outside on the sidewalk of the restaurant grilling chicken and carne asada. The smell was great and the price was better, especially when you’re a ‘baller on a budget. Inside, Erica, Jesus’ wife, had the place hoppin’ with happy car owners who were chowin’ down on the fine Mexican cuisine. After two plates of tacos it was time for a siesta. Wrong, it was back on the street for more photos and hand shaking.
You can't beat this classic lineup. Look close and check out the Chevy Corvair.
There was something for everyone at the show, in addition to the antique shops, there were vendors galore, selling everything from automotive products to toys and sunglasses.
The sunny weather is great but soon took a toll on us and the miles of walking, had our camera equipment bags feeling like lead weights; a good thing that the show was coming to an end. The tricked out cars, trucks and bikes all startedrolling out of town. The noise and excitement soon was gone, and downtown Temecula was quiet again.
So the next time you’re in downtown Temecula, California, sipping on some wine or cringing that your wife or girlfriend is going to break the bank buying antiques, and then you hear the rumble of hot rods you know you’re in for a good time. See you in the fall.