PICTURED: Vintage Cadillac. Photo by Larry Spoerlein

Hot rod, motorcycle and classic car enthusiasts will see more than 700 of these beauties on display at the 17th annual Ventura Nationals on Aug. 31 at the Ventura County Fairgrounds, where guests can also buy raffle tickets for a chance to win a 1959 Chevy El Camino.

The event is a “traditional-inspired hot rod, custom car and vintage motorcycle show that welcomes the entire family to come see classic cars and enjoy the lifestyle,” said Aaron Stein, promoter of the show along with his wife, Holly.

Additionally, the Ventura Nationals “offers a unique shopping experience with select vendors and art, along with live music,” he said, adding that long-time collectors will display vintage trailers and classic vehicles that have been featured in Hollywood movies, “which they invite guests to come look, touch and take pictures with.”

Live music throughout the day will include performances by Tom Kenny and The Hi-Seas, The Moontones, Eddie & thee Scorpions and the Rockin’ Henrys, with Jesse Dayton as this year’s main act. Dayton, who is known for a sound that blends rock, blues, old school country, punk and zydeco, is touring in support of the Aug. 9 release of Mixtape Volume 1, a collection “of deeper cuts by iconic artists” that have influenced him along the way.

“Jesse Dayton is our headliner – he’s an awesome, Texas-based, rock-and-roll country guy,” Stein said.

Texas rocker (and car enthusiast) Jesse Dayton headlines the 2019 Ventura Nationals. Photo by Ray Redding

“As a Texan and vintage car owner, I’ve always been fascinated by the California hot rod culture,” Dayton said. “There’s no cooler event for us to play than the Ventura Nationals, which is a major source for that world. Hot rods, vintage bikes and rock ’n’ roll is about as American as it gets.”

The Ventura Nationals also has a philanthropic element, with proceeds from raffle ticket sales for the Custom Car Giveaway(a 1959 Chevy El Camino) benefitting the Lost Angels Children’s Project, a nonprofit based in Southern California that provides low-income, foster and high-risk youth with safe, educational afterschool programs. This is the sixth year that the Ventura Nationals has supported this charitable endeavor in which “all the proceeds are directly invested back into the development of the Lost Angels Children’s Project’s programming,” Stein said.

New offerings this year include a free area designated for children, where youngsters are encouraged to “color and be creative,” Stein said. “We have custom coloring pages printed out, crayons, some giveaway items, and we have also teamed up with two other children’s books to help inspire little ones . . . we’re pretty stoked about this and already thinking how we can add to it for 2020.”

The car and motorcycle show on Aug. 31 will be just one of three days planned to entertain attendees of all ages, with a free Kustom Kulture Art Show kicking off the night before on Friday at the Majestic Ventura Theater. There will be a street closure on Chestnut Street with parking for classic cars, and guests will get a glimpse of the raffle-ready El Camino.

Additionally, the Eighth Annual Reliability Run, open and free to all classic cars, will take place the day after the Ventura Nationals on Sunday morning, meeting up at 9 a.m. at Plaza Park. Drivers will cruise along the coast and through the back roads of Ventura,

Photo by 3LAPHOTO

around Lake Casitas and down through Ojai for the annual “Endless Summer Gathering.” The run will also hit the Murphy Auto Museum in Oxnard, which will be open from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. with discounted entry for all participants and ample parking for all classic cars.

When the Ventura Nationals started 17 years ago in 2003, “we set out to create a new vibe that made outsiders feel welcome, bring people together and share the works of car builders, artists and vendors with everyone else in a way that other shows hadn’t,” Stein said.

In 2014, when the Lost Angels Children’s Project started, “the idea of building a program through the followers of Ventura Nationals is what has really pushed and inspired us to make this show the best it can be,” he added. “The amount of support through our car scene towards [the Lost Angels Children’s Project] has been more than we imagined and the program wouldn’t be where it is without it.” 

The Ventura Nationals will take place on Saturday, Aug. 31, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. at the Ventura County Fairgrounds, 10 W. Harbor Blvd., Ventura. For full schedule of events and more information, call 805-626-0164 or visit www.venturanationals.com.