Resurrected Austin-Healey perseveres against odds, offers hope to cancer patients
It began with a friend’s gut-wrenching announcement and grew into a phenomenon that is gaining momentum — and fans — by the day.
When Mike Newsome told John Nikas that he had been diagnosed with multiple myeloma, he feared he had only a few weeks to live. And being a classic car enthusiast, Newsome told Nikas he wanted to get his tired 1953 Austin-Healey 100 — a project car he bought on eBay — up and running again before he died.
More than a year later, Newsome and the Healey — aptly nicknamed “Grace” — are still pushing forward, although it’s Nikas who is driving the car all over the country to honor and encourage his cancer-stricken friend.
“When I decided to do this, I did it for one reason — to help keep Mike’s spirits up and give him something to get excited about,” Nikas said during a visit to the Hagerty Classic Car Insurance headquarters in Traverse City, Mich., while promoting Drive Away Cancer Day, set for Aug. 11. “He was really depressed about the news, naturally, so I wanted to give him something to look forward to.
“But I don’t know how the car does it. It shouldn’t be running, not with what little work we did to get it on the road. No wonder people have taken to it the way they have. It’s been an amazing, inspirational story.”
After the Healey was deemed roadworthy last summer, the 41-year-old Nikas borrowed it and threw together a one-man cross-country trip that he called “Drive Away Cancer.” Buoyed by the financial support of businesses and individuals, Nikas drove the resurrected classic from California to the East Coast and back, using 300 quarts of oil, 300 bottles of STP and 150 cans of ring seal during his 7,000-mile journey. By the time Nikas reached California, the car’s oil pressure had fallen from 18 to 2 pounds.
Read the full article here Hagerty.com Grace