by Jay Lord
It’s Back!!! Yes, after a two year hiatus, the Pontiac Southern Nationals is Back!
In case you have never heard of or been to this event, it’s the brain child of the Dallas Area Pontiac Association. Here’s how it all got started. In 1993 the Pontiac Southern Nationals came to be as a result of the Dallas Area Pontiac Association’s desire to put on an event weekend that rivaled any national car event anywhere. Traditionally, PSN has been held in Dallas, Texas and quickly became one of the major Pontiac event weekends in this part of the United States. The PSN also quickly became known nationally as one of the top events each year and Pontiac hobbyists from across the nation attend. A very high quality hotel is always selected as the host hotel where Pontiac guys and gals bring their family and friends and meet other Pontiac owners and spend hours sharing information about their cars and the hobby. Traditionally, on the Friday night of the event weekend, there is a casual supper for entrants and their family, usually around the hotel pool, a court yard or at a hospitality suite. On Saturday, the all Pontiac car show is run and on Sunday, bracket racing is offered at one of the top ¼ mile tracks in the area.
The PSN was a hit from the beginning and continued its winning ways through 2005. Then the DAPA members took two years off in 2006 and 2007 and only hosted a charity show in its place by way of the Sewell Pontiac BOP show benefiting the American Cancer Society, which is still their charity today.
During those two years, many Pontiac folk sent emails, letters or had conversations with many of the DAPA members, expressing their feelings about the need to resume the PSN. In late 2007, DAPA President Don Fenton and DAPA members came together and decided to resurrect this tremendous weekend on June 6-8, 2008. The only difference was that it was held in San Antonio, Texas.
A block of rooms were set aside at an almost brand new La Quinta Inn and Suites which was only a few miles from downtown San Antonio, where attractions such as the Riverwalk, the Alamo, Tower of the Americas, HemisFair Park, fine restaurants, and shopping could be enjoyed by all. The La Quinta was also where, the traditional Friday night casual social event and supper for entrants and their families was held.
Saturday started early for many of the hobbyists. Many struck out before 8 a.m. for the car show which was held on the grounds of the Retama Horse Race Track. Although the forecast called for a 30% chance of rain, the show was blessed with only one small rain shower. A few of the entrants might have seeked shelter at the race track because the entry fee included a free admission to the track.
Pontiac hobbyist and their cars came from all over Texas to celebrate the resurrection of the PSN. Despite sky rocketing gas prices and the threat of rain for the weekend, 77 primo Pontiacs entered the show. Of the clubs that entered cars, the San Antonio Pontiac club, South Central Texas Chapter of POCI, entered over a dozen cars and many of them took home awards. Over three dozen top quality first, second, third and fourth generation Firebirds, Formulas, and Trans Ams entered, were teched and placed in one of the six classes for F-bodies.
Four second generation cars that caught everyone’s eye and scored very well by the judges were the 1976 50th Anniversary Limited Edition Trans Am owner by Robert Kern of Dallas, the 1979 Special Edition Trans Am owned by Paul Kenny of Houston, a 1979 10th Anniversary Trans Am owned by Greg San Marco of San Antonio and a 1970 Trans Am owned by Josie Lord of Bulverde, Texas.
Robert’s ’76 50th Anniversary Limited Edition is a Hurst t-top Y-82 code car, with automatic (TH350), 400 cid, 2.56 rear gears. This very original car’s total mileage (after the 2008 Bandit Run and the PSN) is only 83K!
Paul’s 1979 Special Edition Trans Am has the Pontiac 400 ci motor, 4spd. with only 31k original miles. He’s owned it for 10yrs. It is a high optioned un-restored survivor car that shows very well.
Greg’s 1979 10th Anniversary Trans Am is a 400/4spd car with only 3800 original miles on it. It too is an un-restored survivor car that shows very well.
Josie’s 1970 Trans Am has been in the family for almost 20 years, is a polar white, numbers matching, PHS documented, highly optioned, Ram Air III, California car.
Best of Show went to a 1969 Firebird 400 owned by Jay Lord of Bulverde, Texas. This gold with a parchment vinyl top Firebird is an unmolested, numbers matching, PHS, heavily documented car. It has only been driven 78K by its 4 owners. It has won awards in many shows in and around San Antonio but this is the car’s first Best of Show award.
The races on Sunday at the San Antonio Raceway’s ¼ mile track had some fantastic cars. Many of the DAPA members that had been involved with the PSN for years felt the track was the best venue they have used hands down. Several classes were established and provided racing fun and excitement. Cash awards were made to the winners and runner up in each class. To maximize entrants and spectators enjoyment, if a racer lost their first round elimination race, for an extra fee, they were allowed back in to the same class for a second chance.
The entire weekend was a huge success thanks to all the hard work of all the Dallas Area Pontiac Association members and family as well as the support received from several sponsors – Red McCombs Superior Pontiac GMC of San Antonio, Ames Performance Engineering, Butler Performance, Sewell Pontiac of Dallas, GTOAA Ram Air Restorations, DuSold Enterprises, and Street Dreams.
Rest assured, whenever and wherever the PSN is set for 2009, we’ll all be there. Hope many of you reading this story will bring your cars and join in the excitement, Pontiac Southern Nationals style.