Tuesday, August 18, 2015


Yours truly behind the wheel of the most famous car

Last weekend I headed up 101-North to Novato’s Nostalgia Days.  The annual event, run by Marv Giambastiani, included a Friday night cruise with about 200 custom cars “draggin’ the main.” It was so cool. To me the directions for the circuit were slightly confusing and made so many lefts and rights that I almost got whiplash trying to follow the action. I mean that in a fun way of course. Fun with a capital, "F."  Saturday there were plenty of sweet rides and custom machines on display. Bands played ‘50s style rock and roll as a backdrop to the many spectators walking around checking things out and others who sat in the cool shade on the patios of various restaurants on Grant Street.  It’s always fun to attend events such as these because I get to see a lot of friends, many of who own a car or two on display.  This year was no different. Two of the major attractions of the show were the American Graffiti Dream Team, which consists of dedicated hot rod builders who have meticulously cloned many of the major rides featured in the original 1973 movie.  They’re all a great bunch of guys. The other attraction was Candy Clark.
Photo by Alan Mercer
I knew the star of American Graffiti had come to the event so I arrived with my arms filled with memorabilia that I wanted her to sign. I was hoping we could chat for a bit too.  I've met Candy before at several hot-rod shows and have always enjoyed talking with her. She is intelligent, down-to-earth and has a wonderful sense of humor.  Unfortunately, I arrived a bit late due to car problems and as I was looking for the booth where Candy Clark was located my friend, Jim Bergstrom said, "You just missed her, she’s taking off!” 
Photo by Cynthia Simmons
 But, having no shame and wanting desperately to say hi to the actress, I ran after the van shouting “Candy!” Luckily the driver, Ron heard me and braked, stopping the vehicle.This prevented me from making a spectacle of myself. In other words I didn’t have to try grasping onto the bumper and have them drag me through town as, I shouted out the actresses’ name just to get them to stop.  Candy recognized me and playfully said, "You got here late."  I asked if she could sign some Graffiti memorabilia. She asked, “How many things do you have?” I had about 14 items that I’d brought for her to sign including an original poster, a couple of DVDs of her movies and a press kit but not wanting to delay her plane trip I sheepishly said “Three?” She graciously agreed. And, soon she and her entourage were back on their way to the airport. Someday I’m going to have a room specifically filled with American Graffiti posters, lobby cards, etc. signed by Candy and other Graffiti stars.  Someday.  But wait, there's more to our fun filled story so keep scrolling.
Falfa's '55 Field Car owned by Jeff Zastrow
'55 interior
'58 Impala owned by Ken Crawford
The Bucket-T is owned by Ken Crawford and the Red Truck is owned by Jim Bergstrom
40th Anniversary '32 Ford Coupe owned by Jeff Zastrow

Anyway, I was standing there half way in the street recovering from my star-struck state, after having interacted with Candy, when Jeff Zastrow, the owner of the 32 Milner Coupe and 55 Falfa Chevy clone, nudged me and asked, “Hey you want to do something fun? I replied, “What’s that?” thinking he was insinuating dinner with the group.  “You want to drive the yellow coupe?” Before he could finish his question I blurted out, “Yeah!” “Okay, said Jeff, “you can drive it back to the hotel. Just follow me, I'll be driving the black Chevy.” Sure nothing to it.  At first I stalled the engine a couple of times but eventually I got the hang of it and before I knew it I was “John Milner” cruising through the small town with people waving at me. Damn, where were my pack of non-filter Camels when I needed them?
Powered by a modified 327 Chevy engine
I continued to follow the black 55 Chevy, Jeff was driving. Once he took a left on Redwood Road Jeff picked up speed and I followed in pursuit. We were rallying along the long stretch of road with the engines blazing and cars moving out of the way for us.  I remembered earlier Jeff had said that the Coupe had enough power that the front end lifts up off the ground if you accelerate fast enough.  Well once we came to the first stoplight I just had to see if he was right. He was. The torque was amazing.  For about 5 miles I got to test out an astounding car with the engine winding incredibly and live a little bit of a dream that I’ve had since 1974 when I first saw American Graffiti in the theater with my sister, Kary and my dad in Woodland California. It was truly bitchin! Thanks to Marv, Jeff, Ken, Jim, Candy and everyone else for a great weekend!  (Click here to see more pics from event).
Later, Alligator!

 ~ FINI ~ 


  1. That's awesome Kip buddy...bet those rippling biceps were pumped up after cruising in the 32....you take care of yourself man!

  2. Wow, what a great time you had. I'm sooo jealous.

  3. Kip, you're the man! So cool that you got to drive the Milner coupe!!! What an awesome day that was for you.