"It was great just to be nominated" is a phrase you hear a lot when they hand out awards for the movies or TV shows, but that's how every attendee feels after showing their ride at Blackie Gejeian's Fresno Autorama. Gejeian, 84, has spent the past five decades culling the best of the best show cars from different venues around the country to make up the guest list for the annual Fresno Autorama.
Only if you attend every show in the country would you have the chance to see the list of impressive show winners that attend the Fresno show. It is not uncommon to see the current America's Most Beautiful Roadster winner across the aisle from this year's Ridler recipient, which is shown just a few feet from a top show contender from the Midwest. But even Blackie says he "was surprised this year by the quality of workmanship," and that's saying something considering his 50th show last year was a high-water mark for him.
Blackie was so impressed with a few of the folks who took the time to restore their shop and/or push trucks from decades ago that he gave four of them a special spot in the middle of the Nostalgia Room. Only a former dirt track owner and racer such as Blackie would think of showcasing those types of hot rods at a high-end indoor car show.
Another unique aspect of the Fresno Autorama is there are only two "Best" trophies handed out for the show: Best Rod and Best Custom-there is no second place or "Best Use of Rock Salt" awards. Best Custom was given to Gene and Earlene Elpers from Evansville, Indiana, for their mint-green '46 Chevy pickup and Best Rod went to Jerry Magnuson for his '32 Muroc roadster. Blackie also surprised a few folks when he announced he would take 2011 off from producing the Fresno Autorama to address some nagging health issues, but plans to be back in 2012. Concerning the 2010 show, Gejeian understated the fact when he said he "was happy with the way it turned out," and so was everyone else.