Blackie’s Last Stand?

August 18th, 2009

The 50th Annual Fresno Autorama

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Though it is properly known as the Fresno Autorama, for all intents and purposes and to his legion of fans, it’s simply recognized as “Blackie’s show.” For the past 50 years, Mike “Blackie” Gejeian has been the heart and soul of this show. Gejeian, as usual, handpicked all of the vehicles in attendance, and the crowd came to see him as much as they did the amazing array of cars, trucks and motorcycles.


Held March 13-15, 2009 in the Fresno Convention Center, the show was once again stellar, as nearly 300 vehicles packed into the two halls. Blackie literally travels the world looking for only the finest cars, and virtually every state of the union was represented.

When Gejeian began with 70 cars at the Fresno Armory, the show was invitation only; if Blackie let you in, you knew your car was one of the best. In that time, top-name builders and backyard mechanics alike hoped that Blackie would see their car and give them the chance to show their car at his show…pardon us, the Fresno Autorama show.

In the 50 years since the show has been held, there has never been a car that appeared more than once…until this year, that is. This year, Blackie brought back some of the more storied cars from years past, cars like AMBR and Ridler winners. Blackie even showed off a few his own cars he has built and shown throughout the years.

Even though this is the 50th Fresno Autorama, Blackie has been producing races as well as shows around the area for more than 65 years. With pride, he boasts that he has produced a total of 1,076 events.

There was the buzz going in the months leading up to the show that with this year, being the 50th anniversary, would be Blackie’s last. To address the situation, he made an announcement at the trophy presentation. He says he does indeed plan to do a show next year, but it is really up to the state of his health. None of us are getting any younger, but the guy has had five major operations just on his legs alone, and that doesn’t figure in the pacemaker and other medial ailments.

We here at Drive! sincerely hope that Blackie’s health improves. We wish him well because he is truly one of a kind, and the sport wouldn’t be the same without him.

 


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Ensconced in two large halls of the Fresno Convention Center in the heart of Fresno, CA, it is the 50th Annual Fresno Autorama.
This ’71 RS Z/28 Camaro, owned by Jerry Sanguinetti of San Mateo, CA, is called “Project 13.” It features a blown 383, tinwork by Brizio and black paint with tribal flames by Edgar.
If Thurston Howell III were a hot rodder, he would have driven this amazing, blown Rolls Royce
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In addition to cars, the Fresno Autorama played host to an array of unique and beautiful motorcycles.
Blackie has a place in his heart for pickups, too. This blue and silver ’67 C10 GMC owned by Mark Bozak out of Litchfield Park, AZ, made the cut.
What else would you expect from a ’32 from Grampa’s Hot Rod Company except that it was built with a flathead, flames, the original frame and 1950s-style tuck-and-roll interior.
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St. George Kustoms builds bicycles that look anything but bicycles. This one is a guitar and amp.
Calling it their “1932 Ford 75th Anniversary Bus,” Lou and Brenda Steiner features a blown 454, PPG paint and graphics by Charles Armstrong of Auto Art Studio and a full Air Ride Technologies air-ride system. It sure beats the way we went to school.
The man himself, Mike “Blackie” Gejeian. Blackie is optimistic about heading up the show next year, but we’ll all have to wait and see.

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