Ron "Big Yohns" Johnson
I took the Chizler up to the
Wally Parks NHRA Museum of Drag racing in Pomona a couple of
days after the Cruising on Grand event in Escondido. There, it
would be on display until the day before the California Hot Rod
Reunion, where it was selected to be the Spotlight Car for the
event. We would have two show and tell events, the
ceremonial fire-up outside the Doubletree Hotel after the Friday
Night reception and awards program was completed and also the
Saturday night Cacklefest.
Following these appearances the
car would be returned to Alex Mikkelson's American Roadster shop
in Placentia where the motor would be removed and it would be
returned to the configuration it was in when it left the Garlits
Museum. Finally, it would be transported back to Minnesota and
then to Chicago where Karamesines would have it back at home
after more than 40 years in Museums.
Jim Swedberg and Ken Jack were
handling transportation for the final stage of the journey. They
picked Chizler up at the Museum and took it to CHRR where I joined
them on Thursday afternoon.
Steve Gibbs and I moved
the car to where it could be towed to the staging lanes for a
Following this, Chizler was moved
to a spot in the Justice Brothers JB display behind the grandstand.
The Reunion Spotlight Award is
sponsored by Justice Brothers and their JB brand of Car care
Products and was given to Tommy Ivo the first year. It is now
called the TV Tommy Ivo Spotlight Award sponsored by JB and presented
each year to a significant person or vehicle.
Greg Sharp told me I should attend
the awards program and I figured he didn't want me to miss seeing
the Greek get the Reunion Spotlight award. Blow me away with
a feather, they presented it to me as well. That was a complete
After this was over I
hustled outside and got the Chizler ready to be fired up. Brian
Kaplan gave me a hand fueling as John Loukas observed.
Chris wanted me to move the throttle
pedal forward to give him more leg room, but Loukas didn't want
to change it because in his car the motor sits farther forward
and the pedal would just have to be moved back again. Here Loukas
is getting some static about not wanting the pedal moved.
However, it's all in
fun and with that done it's time to get in.
We have a last minute
review of what we are going to do.
I, John Loukas and Brian wait
while the leader of the band gets ready to tell us to strike
up the music.
Signal given, light it
It lives, it lives. Chris
smiles as it settles into a cadence.
You will notice that
there is a bit of consternation on the part of some of the people
standing behind the car. With the idle slightly rich, the Weed
Burner headers create a veritable fog in their path that
causes all but the most Nitro tolerant to beat a
hasty retreat. Loukas stands in the safe zone, which the driver
Getting nice flames as
the engine starts to build a little heat.
If you look closely you
will note that the blower belt has climbed up on the flange of
the idler pulley and is working it's way forward, off the pulleys.
When the belt came off, the Chizler was silenced, but the tank
was close to empty and so it made little difference.
Everyone had a grand
time and I was relieved that we had gotten past the next to last
fire-up with everything going more or less as planned.
Saturday night was Cacklefest
and due to some problems with the race program it got started
later than scheduled, but the stands were full.
I towed Chris and the Chizler
in the parade lap with the El Camino. Larry Lones, Chris
crew chief for the last 40 years accompanied me riding shotgun.
Here, we pass the area
where announcer Dave McClelland tells the people about the car
and driver. Chris is the only driver there not wearing a fire
suit and helmet but hey, it's The Greek. What cha
Chris gets some help from Marc
McCormick and my son Kol in putting in the clutch stick.
Dan Kaplan, Marc McCormick,
Chris and Kol get the Chizler moved to hook on and return it
to the pits.
The next day the Chizler was
loaded into Jim Swedberg's trailer and he took it to Alex's shop
where Loukas and Alex, with help from Jim and Ken got both the
Chizler and the Coupe returned to their original condition and
loaded in the trailer.
Ken Jack is scoping out Sweddys
trailer loaded with 3, count them, 3 race cars. Far left is my
Junior Fueler with the chassis seperated. The front half is backwards,
fastened to the roll cage. Sweddy is taking it to NoDak where
he will put in a 406 Hemi (354 stroked) and run it for the next
year or two in Junior Fuel B. The Chizler and the Coupe are located
properly and all that's left to do is close the doors and head
You probably doubted that there
was a race car in the pile of quilts. Here's a better shot of
it, it's there all right.