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Eye-popping “Big Daddy” exhibit at Vette Museum

Eye-popping “Big Daddy” exhibit at Vette Museum

Years ago the “World of Wheels” group invited us to attend their Boston show. That’s where we met Ed “Big Daddy” Roth. The legendary hot rod artists and car builder didn’t like flying, so he had driven his Isuzu pickup with “P-E-T-E-R-B-I-L-T” lettered across the tailgate from his home in Utah to Boston to be a celebrity guest at the show. The promoters auctioned tin waste baskets that Roth had painted his car monster characters on and they brought eye-popping prices.  
Now the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Ken., is starting a new exhibit that will feature many of Roth’s eye-popping cars and cartoon. Tom Peters--the retired Director of Exterior Design for the new C8 Corvette Stingray—has helped the NCM create an exhibition called “Car-toon Creatures, Kustom Kars and Corvettes: The Art and Influence of Ed ‘Big Daddy’ Roth.”
Peters says Ed Roth was one of his biggest artistic influences. He would copy Roth’s cartoons and drawings. He says that’s how he learned to draw cars with personalities and attitudes. The most notable cartoon character was “Rat Fink,” who will serve as the mascot of the exhibit.
After a photo op with a giant Rat Fink statue, the tour starts with a re-creation of Ed Roth’s garage. Thanks to Beau Boeckmann, a collector of Roth’s cars and President of Galpin Motors, visitors will be able to see the “Orbitron,” “Mysterion” and “Tweedy Pie,” cars, as well as Ed’s personal truck, that he would use to do his pinstriping work from. On loan from The Petersen Museum is another car called “The Outlaw” and the National Automobile Museum in Reno, Nev. Has loaned NCM the “Beatnik Bandit.”
The exhibit will take visitors through a ‘60s toy store where they can see vintage Ed Roth-designed toys--everything from key chains, stickers and statues to model car kits. Roth’s silkscreen shop where he made T-shirts will also be on display. NCM is bringing in other cars from Roth fans such as Dave Shuten’s “Iron Orchid,” Gary Reid’s “Bubble Ray” Corvette and a Rat Rod to show their personal takes on Roth’s work.
The exhibit will also feature a re-creation of Peter’s studio at the GM Tech Center, along with one of the Corvettes he designed for the “Transformers” movies. The new Galpin Ford GTR1 supercar will also be included. Using touch screen monitors, videos of Tom Peters, GM staff and Galpin Auto Sports will show school groups how science, technology, robotics, engineering, art and math come together to make cars. The touch screens will also go back to a tour experience aimed more at adults between school visits. 
Ed Roth’s wife Ilene Roth is working with the museum to bring together artifacts from Ed’s art supplies to his tuxedo. She is also planning to host a special ‘East Side’ version of the Rat Fink Reunion in Bowling Green, bringing together licensed Rat Fink artists and the cool people and cars that celebrate the legacy of “Big Daddy.”
This exhibit opens Jan. 31, 2020 and runs through December 2020, with the East Side Rat Reunion set for August 20-22, 2020.