Andy’s Final, Final Picnic – Five Decades of Early Fords
Andys Final Final Picnic was recently held by eighty-five-year-old Andy Brizio who has been the official torch bearer for Northern California hot rodding for over 50 years. Let that sink in for a moment. FIVE DECADES! For most of that run, his official nickname of RODFATHER was uttered with pride. He earned that credo.
When Half Moon Bay Dragstrip was in its infancy in the late 1950s, there was Brizio high jumping as the official flag starter. When old Mission Road was the gathering point for South San Francisco hot rod heathens, there was Andy and his Champion Speed Shop front and center eventually producing Andy’s “Instant T” kit rods as well as his later kits known as “Volksrods.” When the Oakland Roadster Show was the biggest and best winter-time event for hot rods, there was Brizio hugging AMBR trophies. When the first Street Rod Nationals was held in Peoria, Illinois, there went Brizio in his Himsl-painted, AMBR-winning 1923 Ford T roadster with sidekick Cub Barnett on a 4,500 mile hot rod road trip with nothing more than a Shell gas card and some skivvies in a small duffle bag. He’s as OG as they come.
But maybe it was his first annual Hot Rod Picnic in 1966 at Morton’s Hot Springs near Calistoga that was his signature statement. What started relatively small gathered steam and turned into Nor-Cal’s annual rallying cry for early Ford guys. The Picnic was held at parks and show grounds all over the San Francisco Bay Area in subsequent decades, culminating with its largest field of entries ever in the early 2000s at the Solano County Fairgrounds in Vallejo, CA. As Andy retired from a thriving tee shirt business a decade ago and moved to the Gold Country, the Picnic was held when he and wife Sue felt up to it. It still drew nearly one thousand cars even though its annual status morphed into bi and tri annual affairs.
Yet here he was, wife Sue at his side, holding Andy’s Final-Final Hot Rod Picnic at where else, the Italian Picnic Grounds in Sutter Creek, CA in late August. Over 700 of Andy’s closest hot rod friends, many of which were driving hi-boy roadsters, came for a weekend of remembrance, celebration and a show of solidarity against the fast-rising muscle car tide. You see Brizio refuses to believe that “guys aren’t building hot rods anymore.” Not on his watch. And looking over the field of entries at the Final-Final (restricted to 1949 and earlier hot rods), it was hard to argue, at least for one glorious warm summer day in the golden California Foothills.
Andy Brizio is one of the top five most influential figures in hot rod culture. Nobody has driven more road miles in a deuce roadster and nobody has ever matched his ability to unite early Ford fanatics for rallies, rebel rousing and road trips.
While he has said “this is it – the last one” several times before (not unlike prize fighters), we truly hope this wasn’t the Final Final. But if it was, Andys Final Final Picnic was a hell of a ride.
Photos courtesy of Mike Christensen
ANDYS FINAL FINAL PICNIC FLASHBACK BONUS!
We asked our good friend Todd Olson to dig through his late father “Deuce Bruce” Olson’s photo archives for some vintage Andy’s Picnic images. He forked over this ten spot from the July 1969 gathering at Turtle Rock Ranch in Walnut Creek, CA. Dig those bell bottoms and T-buckets!