In 1901, Frank Meguiar Jr. used an eggbeater to mix his first bottle of furniture polish in the garage of his Pasadena residence. It was the start of a family-owned business that now distributes automotive polishes worldwide and is heavily involved with vintage cars, one of the fastest growing segments of motor sports.
Barry Meguiar, grandson of the founder, is now president of the company and an active supporter of vintage and historic car racing, car shows and host of "Car Crazy" television and radio shows.
Tonight, at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, he will present the annual Meguiar's Award to Steve Earle, founder-producer of the Monterey Historics, one of the world's most prestigious vintage racing and show car events held each August at Pebble Beach and Laguna Seca.
Earle created the concept of a different "honored marque" each year for the Monterey Historics. This year it will be Ford's Racing Heritage, celebrating the manufacturer's 100th anniversary.
Also being honored as "Treasurers of the Hobby" tonight will be Wally Parks, founder of the National Hot Rod Assn. and chairman of the NHRA Motorsports Museum, and the late Bill Harrah, a legendary Reno car collector.
"For years, the only ones publicized at car shows were the cars," said Meguiar. "We felt there should be a forum to honor the people who have helped move the hobby forward, so we came up with our awards ceremony for individuals."
Past recipients have included Bob Petersen, who started the craze in 1948 when he put on the first vintage car show at the L.A. Armory and now heads the Petersen Automotive Museum; Jay Leno, host of "The Tonight Show;" Bruce Meyer and J. B. Nethercutt, renowned Southern California car collectors.
Attendance is by invitation only.
Handing out awards to deserving people has been a way of life for the Meguiars. Barry's father, Malcolm, and uncles, Maury and Mickey, began honoring Pasadena high school and junior college students with athlete-of-the-year awards more than 50 years ago and the tradition has been continued by Barry and cousins Mike and Frank to this day.
"Car Crazy," aired at 4:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. Saturday on Speed Channel, consists largely of interviews with racing and vintage-car personalities.
"I'm just a car guy who loves being around car guys and listening to their stories," said Meguiar. "I started my 'Car Crazy' show after listening to Carroll Shelby spin yarns about his racing days and figured that other car guys would love to hear them too."
With the recent trend among younger drivers toward sports-compact cars, the company's racing interest is centered on a colorful Ford Focus driven by Shawn Carlson, 20, of Riverside, to a national championship last year in the NOPI Drag Racing Assn. The four-cylinder car, painted a gaudy yellow, red and black, develops 850 horsepower and hits a top speed of 175 mph. The NOPI series will conclude Oct. 18-19 at California Speedway.
If the name sounds familiar, Meguiar's has been involved in racing since it sponsored the late Ray Crawford's car in the Indianapolis 500 in the late 1950s. Later, it sponsored Michael Andretti and Geoff Brabham in the Indy car series and also presented the Meguiar's Grand Prix IMSA and Can-Am races at Riverside International Raceway before the track was closed.
Race driving has never been one of Barry Meguiar's passions, but now, at 61, he is looking forward to racing a 2-year-old Winston Cup car for a few laps at California Speedway during the California Classics car show Sept. 6-7.
"I've gone to driver's school and I think I can do it," he said.
In a world of collector cars, Barry said his only one is a black '57 Chevy Bel-Air, the first car he ever drove.
"I was 16 when I got it, and when I drive it today, it makes me feel like 16 again."
Irwindale Speedway has so much activity to cram into Saturday night's program that racing will start an hour earlier, at 6 p.m. Featured will be six monster trucks, a demolition derby, a Figure 8 race and 75 laps of super late model racing.... Ventura Raceway will showcase four classes -- VRA 360 sprints and modifieds, pony stocks and IMCA modifieds.
At Perris Auto Speedway, military personnel will be admitted free at all races for the rest of the season. Saturday night's program will feature six divisions -- super stocks, street stocks, champ trucks, hornets and two dwarf classes -- main events to be raced on the half-mile dirt oval.
The 10th running of the Porsche Owners Club's Tribute to Le Mans is scheduled Saturday at Willow Springs International Raceway in Rosamond. Le Mans veterans Bill Auberlen, Cort Wagner and Kevin Buckler are entered in the four-hour, day-into-night endurance race.
SCORE Turns 30
The historic Tecate SCORE Baja 500 this weekend will commemorate the 30th anniversary of the first SCORE desert race held in Mexico. The race itself is much older, having been produced from 1969 to 1974 by the old NORRA racing organization.