Arnie Tribute 16

Arnie Johnson Tribute No. 16: A Gift from Arnie

by Kyle Kaulback

I pulled up to the hotel in my Lotus Elan Plus 2 S 130/5 in Asheville NC after a long drive from Pennsylvania. It was a long trip and complicated by losing my nuts. That is, losing some of the nuts holding the intake manifold onto the head of the Lotus Twin Cam engine powering the Plus 2. So I was relieved to have finished the trip and looked forward to a weekend of Lotusing with friends new and old. As I looked out my window to the right (my Plus 2 was a RHD) the first person I saw was Arnie Johnson. I was always happy to see Arnie as he always had a smile on his face and was always pleasant and always greeted by name accompanied by a hearty handshake. As I walked up to him and the equally cordial Dave Simkin who was by his side along with seve ral hangers on I said to him “I think it is fitting that the first person I greet at LOG 34 is Arnie Johnson”. He looked at me with a bigger smile than usual, held out his hand and said” Hi Kyle, you’re an Emerson Fittipaldi fan aren’t you?” “Well, yes, yes I am.” “I have something for you. I was cleaning out a storage room in my house and I found this thing and as soon as I saw it I said to myself, ‘You, know who would like this? Kyle would like this.’ ” Arnie then sent Dave to the rental car to get the “thing” and in a few moments he reappeared with a fairly large object wrapped in plain brown paper, handed it to Arnie, who then duly presented me with my gift. I unwrapped the object not having any clue what it was. Inside the plain brown wrapper was a presentation plaque in brass with a silk screen image of the Lotus 72 and
Emma with the inscription 1972 WORLD CHAMPIONS JPS-LOTUS. I really didn’t know what to say. I thanked him deeply for his generosity, but really couldn’t verbal ize the gratitude that I felt at the time, and still feel today. I didn’t know anything about it but was honored that of all the people Arnie knows in the Lotus world he would think of me to present the plaque to. I have since found out that it was a presentation piece given to only key Lotus insiders to commemorate the Championship. There aren’t many who have one. Once I got home I hung it above my workbench in The Lotus Barn. Whenever I am working on something I look up and remember Arnie. I have many treasured Lotus artifacts, but none more precious to me than that plaque. Not because it is rare. Not because it might have value. But because it was Arnie who gave it to me. There is a reason Arnie was universa lly loved by anyone associated with Lotus. He was generous, engaging, smart, and a genuinely nice guy. I still have Arnie’s phone number in my contact list. I will never delete it. Because when I am gone I’m gonna call it. And hopefully, Arnie will answer with his amiable voice saying” Hi Kyle, good to hear from you again”