If you see a 1953 Austin-Healey 100 with a bunch of names Sharpied on its grey paint, stop by and show your support. John Nikas is raising money to fight cancer, and driving from Huntington Beach, California, to Charleston, South Carolina—and all the way back again.
Nikas is driving the vintage British sports car for the Drive Away Cancer Challenge, for reasons that hit too close to home: Nikas has cancer himself, and a few months ago weighed just 100 lbs.
But a minuscule setback like cancer didn’t stop him from racing vintage cars for the past five years. The Austin-Healey was donated to him by a member of the Austin-Healey Club, who also had cancer. Mechanics took two weeks restoring it to drivable condition and exorcizing rust from its flanks, and the fact that it ran amazed the crew, said Nikas.
“It’s a perfect metaphor for people living with cancer,” he said. “If this car can even make this attempt, and actually make it, it says a lot. It’s so easy to just get depressed and just sit and wait, and maybe driving a 60-year-old car across the country isn’t what everyone would do, but it’s about doing something productive in the time that you have.”
Nikas set off from Huntington Beach on Monday, after a police escort paraded him through town. Over 100 names were scrawled on the car in Sharpie—names of loved ones affected by cancer, signed by friends and strangers alike. At last count Nikas was in Albuquerque, and plans to shoot down Interstate 40 the entire way to the East Coast. Over 25 car clubs have already pledged their support, and Nikas will show the car off at the Monterey Historics on August 17th when he returns.
Godspeed, John Nikas—may the gods of speed bless you with synchronized carburetors and working Lucas electronics. You can follow his journey on the Drive Away Cancer Facebook page.
[Source: NBC Los Angeles]