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Restoration


By 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 photo op.

 

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 surprise.

 

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 up!

 

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 enjoys also.

 

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.

 

Orangeline

 

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 gonna do?

 

 

It’s over.

 

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 East.

 

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.

 

 

 

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