We were saddened to hear the news of Gary’s passing on Sunday, December 26.
As founder and chairman of the Goodguys Rod & Custom Association he touched the lives of millions of car enthusiasts over the last thirty years as he grew Goodguys from a single event in 1983 to over 24 a year nationally. His enthusiasm and dedication to his passion earned him a lifetime of great friends and good times. He worked tirelessly to create “good clean fun” events that were family friendly and entertaining to people of all ages and interest levels. They were “events” as he called them, not “shows.”
A son of a farmer in the little Nor-Cal town of Dinuba, Gary found his life’s passion in cars early on, and his favorite high school activity was to “drag Main” in his lowered and hopped up ‘47 Plymouth. He met his wife Marilyn in 1957 while cruising, and they married in 1961. Two boys, Marty and Marc followed, and together they cruised as a family to car-related events all over the country, first in the family T-bucket, and then in Gary’s ‘32 Ford sedan which would be transformed into the yellow car that has stood as their logo for the last thirty years.
After founding the Nor-Cal Early Iron car club for pre-1948 vehicles with some of his friends in the mid ‘70s he decided to hold his first show, the West Coast Street Rod Mini-Nationals, in Lodi in 1973. In 1983 he and Marilyn held the first Goodguys Get-Together at the Pleasanton Fairgrounds, a show that continues to be held each year. In 1987, the Meadors quit their jobs and started Goodguys as a full time event production company. Since then the roster has grown to over 21 events each year, held all around the country, and totals over 700 events in thirty-plus years.
Through it all Meadors was laser-focused on making each event better than the last, and worked hard to establish a family-friendly atmosphere that held something for everyone. Goodguys was also heavily involved in establishing Nostalgia Drag racing by resurrecting historical events like the March Meet in 1994, which ran under their control before handing it over to the Bowzer family in 2007.
Accolades for Gary include induction into the 200mph club at Bonneville with a record-setting run in a streamliner in 1995,Lifetime Achievement Awards from both Street Rodder Magazine and HRIA, a spot in the Street Rod Market Alliance Hall of Fame, and in 2014 he received the International Show Car Association’s “Legends of Hot Rodding” award.
In 2009 Gary handed the reins of Goodguys over to his son, Marc Meadors, who continues to keep the family business going strong. Gary and Marilyn then spent much of their time attending events and driving across the country, though he still actively offered valuable input on the business he poured his heart and soul into.
Gary leaves behind a lasting legacy, scores of great friends, and a loving family. He is survived by his wife Marilyn, brother Craig, sons Marc and Marty, grandchildren Breann, Grant, Grace, Reece and Rory. He will surely be missed, and hot rodding will just not be the same without the original “Good Guy.” Our hearts and condolences go out to his friends and families.