A few of us teamed up with Uncle Roy Brizio and hopped on a Southwest flight yesterday to head south to SO-CAL Speed Shop in Pomona to pay our respects to hot rod icon Pete Chapouris who passed away January 6th. Turns out, the best available flight was a 7am departure with a 7:15pm return. Perfect! Pomona, being a world-renowned center of hot rods and horsepower, offers plenty of options for a full day.
First up, was a stop at the Avocado House in Chino for a power breakfast. If you’re gonna spend 12-hours bombing around the Inland Empire, a full stomach is essential. The place rocked. Fresh, tasty and chill, the Avocado House is a must if you’re in the area.
Our first stop was the NHRA Museum to check out the outstanding, updated Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum. Curator and decades-long friend Greg Sharp wondered in around 11am. We greeted him in the parking lot and went in for a look. Through museum Executive Director Larry Fisher and Sharp’s efforts, signature hot rods like Rich Guasco’s ’61 AMBR winner, Bob McCoy’s ’40 Ford coupe, the t-buckets of Norm Grabowski, TV Tommy Ivo and Ed Iskenderian, Neal East’s Roadster are on hand to join historic drag machines. The museum has never looked better. We bullshitted with Greg for over an hour.
Next up was a stop at Kennedy Brother’s Hot Rods in Pomona just up the street from SO-CAL Speed Shop. Early Ford parts collectors, surfers, swap meet lords and hot rod builders/restorers, the Kennedy Bros are the coolest dudes you will meet in hot rodding. They welcomed us with open arms and Uncle Roy got to do a little business. Bam!
The main event, the Chapouris memorial gathering at SO-CAL was sensational, spiritual and a social gathering for the ages. Close to a thousand friends to the Chapouris and SO-CAL family showed up to pay respects to Pete and his hot rodding legacy. It wasn’t advertised – just word of mouth and close friends were tipped off. That gives you an idea of the immense impact Pete had on our scene. The place was flooded with friends. From international rock stars to new generation rodders, some of which Pete mentored personally, were on hand. It was a loving tribute to our fallen friend.
With that, we took a cruise down Holt Avenue back to Ontario Airport before taking off for home. Thanks to our hosts for the day and thanks to Uncle Roy for putting up with us. Rest in Peace Pete Chapouris. You embodied everything good in life and in flaming fast, pre-war hot rods.
Take a minute to view our gallery below!