For 72 years now the Sacramento Autorama has highlighted some of the best automobiles the West Coast has to offer. Nestled in the capitol of California, and what many consider the Custom Car Capitol of the World, the Sacramento Autorama gathered the West’s bests with others from throughout the country and shined the spotlight on traditional Custom cars this past weekend.
The lineup of awards dedicated to these custom creations are in memory of some of the best customizers in the world. Guys like Bagdasarian, Barris, Balion, and Bertolucci. Rod Shows calls them the “Big B” Awards, for obvious reasons. All four of the Big B Awards are selected by family members of those who have passed. Here are the 2023 recipients:
Bagdasarian Memorial Worlds Most Beautiful Custom Award – Ray Poletti – 1940 Lincoln Zephyr
Sam Barris Memorial Award – Jesse Orozco – 1956 Chevy 210 Sedan
Joe “Candy Apple” Bailon Memorial Award – Mitch Kelly – 1957 Chevy Bel Air
Dick Bertolucci Memorial Award of Excelence – Cesar Ruiz – 1936 Ford Roadster
But the annual top honor award that customs vie for in Sacramento is the Custom D’Elegance title. This year the trophy went back to the east coast after being awarded to Cody Walls and his gold ’49 Buick that debuted at the Grand National Roadster Show earlier this year in the Slonaker competition. Cody’s Buick edged out a strong field of six beautiful, traditional customs.
New for 2023 was the ARP West Coast Challenge competition which awarded $12,500 and a trophy to the Grand Champion, $6,500 to the runner up, and $3,500 to the third-place finisher. To qualify for the West Coast Challenge, vehicle owners needed to attend three of the four following events: Grand National Roadster Show, Portland Roadster Show, Spokane Speed and Custom Show, and the Sacramento Autorama. In Sacramento the judges did their final deliberating and awarded Jeff Hess’ “OldsSled” ’56 Oldsmobile as the inaugural West Coast Challenge winner – yet another major award for OldsSled after debuting at the 2020 Detroit Autorama, and later that year being crowned Goodguys Custom of the Year.