Ride Of The Year Winner

013As many of our members know, recently we  crowned the 2013 Ride Of The Year winner.  Here at Cool Rides we could have not been prouder than to bestow this coveted prize to Johnny Pappas and “Belle” his 1957 Chevy Belair.  Still, we felt that there was one last thing we had to do, and that was to let everyone know just a little more about the man behind this amazing ride. Below is just a a quick summary of who is Johnny Pappas?

I founded Nutri-Fit Health Services, a personal training and nutrition company over thirty-five years ago in my private penthouse gym which is located in Tyson’s Corner, Va (twenty minutes from Washington DC).   I started lifting weights at the young age of ten.  During the next three decades, I competed in numerous Olympic, bodybuilding and power lifting competitions, among them Mr. Virginia, Mr. Maryland, Mr. Capitol DC, Mr. Delmarva and Mr. U.S.A.   I also set three national power lifting records during this time while serving as a judge in I.F.B.B., N.A.B.B.A. and A.A.U. competitions.

I graduated Summa Cum Laude with a BS degree in anatomy and physiology as well as having a Master’s degree in nutrition.  I taught at the college level and written articles for MuscleMag, Strength and Health and Iron Man, all of which are international fitness magazines.

I developed the concept of personal training in the Washington, DC area during the 70’s and early 80’s in numerous health clubs, including Holliday Health Club, European Health Spa, World Wide Health Spa, Washington Sport & Health and The Centrum Fitness Club.  I have conducted fitness and nutrition seminars for corporations and businesses along the east coast, and have worked with the U.S. army, police, and fire departments to develop fitness programs.  After serving in the U.S. Army for three years (1970-73) and also serving in the National Guard for six years (as a member of the wheel vehicle mechanic team located in Washington DC), I knew our armed services as well as the police and fire departments needed better fitness programs to better serve their local communities.

I first learned about Cool Rides Online from surfing the net as I am a member of numerous Chevrolet clubs and wanted to see what other car clubs were out there.

008 - Copy - CopyI currently own a 1968 BSA Shooting Star which I am the original owner (I anticipate entering it in the Cool Ride of the Month contest).  I was seventeen when I first saw my bike in the show room window of my local BSA dealer.  Luckily they took lay-a-way as it took me three months of working as a dishwasher to buy “Thunder” (the nickname I gave it when I first started it up!).  Thunder is a 100 point bike having won numerous times at the AMCA in Olley, Pa.  I also entered Thunder in the Motorama show in Harrisburg, Pa and recently Thunder was selected by invitation only to the 2014 Modern Classics motorcycle show at Martin’s motos dealership in Boyertown, Pa.  Only about 90 bikes were chosen nationwide and they are going to be featured in a book coming out May 1st.   A professional photography booth with a 360 degree dias was used to take an all white background of  each bike by a professional photographer for use in the book along with a 250 word narrative written about each bike’s owner.  Thunder has won over 130 trophies.

Of course, my other “love” is Belle.  What makes Belle special is my father had a 57 Chevy Belair and it was a real thrill for me to ride in the back seat with the windows down.  He bought it brand new but in 1964, he traded it in for a 64 Pontiac Catalina.  I remember touching the fin that day in the dealer parking lot as my I asked my father, “Who is going to drive our Chevy home?”  He remarked, “No one son, we’re leaving it here.”  That left an indelible mark in my mind that day.  I was determined to have a 57 Chevy of my own one day.   So four and one-half years ago, my wife and I entered a Classic car and motorcycle show (with Thunder) and it got rained out but not before I saw an elderly couple driving a 1940 Chevy Masters coupe to the show.  They said it could make it to California because it had modern aftermarket goodies like power steering, power brakes, A/C…etc.  I told my wife, we can buy a 57 Chevy and have old school looks with modern technology.   She asked when are we going to buy it?  I told her, no rush…maybe we’ll look the next two to three years.  We bought Belle two days (yes, two days later) from a guy that bought her for his wife’s 50th birthday but when he unveiled Belle, she got very upset and told him she wanted a new 2010 Camaro.  So, Belle was ours.  But, she turned out to be a real lemon!

For the next four years, I worked on her with the help of friends, and a few shops that really didn’t know what they were doing.   Making custom panels for her radiator and outfitting her with four wheel power disc brakes was a brutal challenge.   Many knuckle busting days and nights later…Belle was the way I had always dreamed my 57 would look like…or so I thought.  So after I won the Cool Ride of the Year, I took Belle to a great restoration shop and inquired about new paint as her paint is about twenty-five years old and as  I am due to retire in a few years, so I thought I better do it now while I have the money.  Well, after taking out the carpet to put in better insulation and a new carpet, the shop found rust all over the floor and trunk.  Not wanting to re-do the interior and take Belle apart years from now, I decided to a full frame off restoration which she should have had done years ago.  I am not doing any of the work this time, (I earned it!).  Belle is now torn down and in taking off her driver window side molding; the shop owner found the original Sierra Gold paint so that is what she will be painted.  I can’t wait to have her back.  A few changes…she is getting mini-tubs to accommodate new Mickey Thompson twelve inch rubbers and new Billet Specialty wheels along with thirty-seven parts newly chromed or re-chromed.  And the engine compartment will be even better…stay tuned!

By the way, if I had all of the money in the world, my dream car would be …….BELLE!!!  And I’ll never sell her for no amount of money.

Having a very valuable car, I never use chrome polish on her chrome, I just wash with soap and water and put a carnuba wax on to seal the shine in.   I use Mother’s billet polish on the aluminum wheels and I use Gold Eagle 303 on the paint between shows.

So there you have it just a little more about Johnny Pappas the winner of 2013 Ride of The Year Award.  I want to thank Johnny for taking the time to let us know more about him.  I also want to thank people like Johnny and everyone in the CRO Community for the hard work you do in promoting  Once again Congratulations and hope that this is just another of the many rewards to come.