Blackie Gejeian

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A photo of Blackie in his first hot rod. The photo was taken in Reno in May of 1946. His buddy Amos Torsian rides shotgun. Photo courtesy of the HAMB.
A photo of Blackie and Amos Torosian with Blackie's roadster taken in Fresno, California in 1947. Clean Gene Sadoian was 14 years old the first time he saw Blackie in his cut down black hot rod in 1948. " The driver was a scary looking guy with cut off t-shirt sleeves. He looked at me and smiled. I saw gold leaf letters on the side of car—"Blackie". He did a burn out for me, I was forever hooked." Photo from The Clean Gene Sadoian Collection.
Bob Huffman's 1965 Chevrolet Impala is part of Blackie's collection.
A photo of Blackie taken at his 90th birthday June 24, 2016. Photo courtesy of the Fresno Bee.

Michael "Blackie" Gejeian (06.24.1926 - 09.02.2016) was born in Easton, California in 1926. He was of Armenian descent, and grew up on a farm.[1]

When he was around 12 years old, he started to drive his dad's car around the ranch. After graduating from high school, he enlisted in the United States Navy and participated in World War II.[1]


In 1945, after returning from the war, Blackie built his first hot rod, a 1926 Ford Model T roadster. Named "Blackie," it became the fastest car in Fresno. The black roadster would ultimately earn Blackie his well-known nickname.[1]

Hometown Hero

Gene "Clean Gene" Sadoian was a local Fresno teenager who in 1948 spent his weekly allowance of $.25 cents on a new monthly magazine called Hot Rod Magazine. "In the 7th grade we had one hour of study hall," he told Kustomrama in February of 2021. "I put the magazine inside of my books and read about Fran Hernandez, Barney Navarro, and Bill Burke, building and racing on the salt, dirt and oval tracks. Hot Rodders had a bad image, so we had to hide images just as porno is now considered. Wally Parks wrote articles about illegal street racing, encouraging legal dragstrips and working with the police." At age 14, while delivering Fresno Bee newspapers on his chromed up Schwinn bike, Gene heard a loud rumble. "Like I never heard before. I saw this cut down hot rod, black with two carburetors sitting so high they blocked the drivers view. The driver was a scary looking guy with cut off t-shirt sleeves. He looked at me and smiled. I saw gold leaf letters on the side of car—"Blackie". He did a burn out for me, I was forever hooked. The next day, I told my school mate buddy, Richard Shirinian, about it. He said that’s my cousin Blackie, I will take you out to his farm. Richard was the only one in Jr high with a car (38 2 door ford). When we arrived at Blackies farm on East Ave. he was working on his roadster. I started looking at the roadster when Blackie handed me a rag and a can of Brilliant Shine polish. I was in heaven seeing how it was put together while polishing the chrome rear end. I noticed his taillight wiring was covered with wired spiral metal. I studied his motor, and everything in the cramped interior. As we were ready to leave, Blackie jumped in the driver’s seat of Richard’s Ford, told us to get into the back seat? He took off dirt tracking in circles, then over irrigation furrows. Richard and I were trying to lay flat since we were hitting the ceiling. Finally I poked Richard, told him we should stop yelling maybe he would stop. Blackie’s last maneuver took out three rows of his fathers staked and wired grapevines. With that, we saw Blackies father running after us with a shovel. Blackie jumped out and started running with his father after him in hot pursuit. Richard and I jumped in the car and took off. Blackie never went home that evening."[2]

Shish Kebob

After crashing the roadster in a race in 1948, Blackie turned it into a show car named "Shish Kebob." The "Shish Kebob" featured a chromed undercarriage, and Blackie is known for starting the tradition of placing a mirror underneath the car to showcase the undercarriage. In 1955 the "Shish Kebob" won the prestigious America's Most Beautiful Roadster award at the Oakland Roadster Show.[1]

Ala Kart

Around 1956 - 1957, Blackie helped Richard Peters build the chassis on the Barris Kustoms restyled Ala Kart. Once completed, the Ala Kart went on to win more than 200 trophies, and it took home the America's Most Beautiful Roadster award twice, first in 1958, and then again in 1959. Just like Blackie's "Shish Kebob," the Ala Kart did also feature a fully chromed chassis.


Blackie became a NASCAR dirt track champion five times.[1] He went on to become a promoter at Clovis Speedway for over two decades, from 1960 to 1980.[1]

Fresno Autorama

In 1958 Blackie began the Fresno Autorama. He ran the show for 51 years before retiring in 2010. After Blackie retired, the show ceased from occuring.[1]

Blackie Gejeian's Cars

Blackie Gejeian's 1926 Ford Model T Roadster
Bob Huffman's 1965 Chevrolet Impala



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