21 of the 200 Reasons Blackie’s AUTORAMA was the best
Being of generation X and raised in the valley by enthusiastic hot rod loving parents lead to many memorable family outings around town. Friday night pit stops at Bob’s Big Boy (then at Blackstone and Bullard.) A Saturday night trip for a burger and a chocolate malt, surrounded by tons of preciously polished classic metal machines at Fat Jacks. Spring and summer were always full of annual show & shines that I now realize molded a sickeningly passionate appreciation for the art of the custom car or hot rod.
One of these annual outings always stood out from the rest, but it wasn’t until my adult years that I realized why. Blackie Gejeian’s Fresno Autorama was that “Big One” that we looked forward to every year. At nine years old I had no clue who Blackie was, but what I DID know was every year I could not wait for that big car show downtown that always had the coolest, most whacked out, wildest and craziest machines I’d ever seen. Literally.
So when my wife and I attended this year’s 51st Annual Autorama at Fresno’s Convention Center, it all came back to me, and I was quick to understand the importance of the legacy Blackie has developed. Though I know many of our readers probably know Blackie personally, or have grown up knowing Blackie’s story, there’s many of us second and third generation hot rod lovers that get left out of the loop.
So this guy is essentially the definition of the term “the man, the myth, and the legend” for local heroes in the custom car scene. Inducted into the Rod & Custom Hall of Fame. Nascar Champion for five years. Dirt track racing from it’s infancy. Pioneering the indoor car show concept – infecting the masses with a mind-blowing insight into the world of hot rods.
At 12 years old, Blackie earns his father’s 29’ sedan. Harnessing the sensation of speed as he would scream through the avenues of 40 acres of vineyard. Later, coming home from spending time in the service, Blackie had that chip on his shoulder… to build the fastest car, not only in Fresno but anywhere. There it begun. Building hot rods. Going for speed and challenging anyone who could keep up.
One of the early winners of the AMBR award (America’s Most Beautiful Roadster) in 1950. Inspired by the Grand National Roadster Show of the day, Blackie took to his resources and hand crafted what has become one of the best and most recognized car shows to impact the valley and acquire national acclaim.
Please enjoy these highlights taken at this year’s Autorama. Blackie, now 84 years young has succeeded in this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to bring the cream of the crop from the hot rod hobby arena for the past five decades. Thank you Blackie Gejeian for inspiring us young hot rod enthusiasts and for showing us what one’s wildest dreams are capable of.