There are parties you can crash, and then there are parties where you need an engraved invitation just to get your foot in the door. The same is true of street rod shows. At Blackie’s, officially called the Fresno Autorama, don’t even attempt to enter your rod. That’s because the show committee, consisting of a single person, namely Blackie Gejeian, personally invites each and every vehicle, a select collection of about 200 in all at this year’s event, held at the Fresno Convention Center in mid-March. He’s been giving his show this sort of personal touch since its inception 47 years ago.
In order to be recognized as an entrant, Blackie travels all around the country, cherry-picking the best of the best, sifting through more than 40,000 candidates. And when it comes time to roll the crème de la crème of cars into the Fresno Convention Center, he gives the layout and placement of each one his individual attention. No detail goes unnoticed, so the overall layout is just so. Like a good host, he knows that presentation is everything when it comes to entertaining guests in a grand style.
Fittingly, all of the vehicles on display get a trophy, and not just some little mantle piece, but a mammoth 48-incher that’s taller than many of the vehicles on display. And the best in show winners each receive a trophy that almost requires its own trailer to take home.
All of which means that among street rod aficionados, getting the nod from Blackie is an extraordinary privilege, like getting a lifetime achievement award. It’s the brass ring of street rodding. So the next time you display your rod at a show, if a guy named Blackie hands you an invitation, don’t toss it. You’ve just been asked to attend the ultimate street rod soiree.