The 50th Annual Fresno Autorama
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.