Top 10 Pinto Tailgate Questions

1) Does the car run? Other variations of this question are: When do you tow the car in? Do you leave the car here between games?

Yes, the car actually runs. It is in reasonably good shape, there is just a few exterior defects that I have not done anything about. I actually spend a fair amount of time in the off season working on the car. You would not believe how much effort it takes to keep that car in such good shape, yet still look so ugly!

2) How do you heat the food?

This question always kills me, because we are usually standing directly adjacent to the car when it is asked. I did not think that the pans of flaming charcoal could be any less obvious, yet people will stare right at them and be clueless. Some people think that there is no engine and I have the fire under the hood.

3) What is in the bowling ball?

It is a 100 proof cherry liquor called Wisniowka. That stuff is absolutely horrible. I brought a bottle to the tailgate in the late 80’s as a joke, just to have a good laugh about why would anyone would actually drink that. I guess the jokes on me since we have gone through over 600 bottles since then.

4) Are you married? Kids?

Yes, married and have 3 kids (19, 17, 11). This surprises a lot of people. They seem to just assume that I must be single to host such an exotic tailgate and to have attended every Bills game (home and road) for the last 10 years. That’s 165 games and counting. I always say there are only two things that one needs to be able to do what I do… A slightly above average income and a VERY TOLERANT wife.

5) Who pays for all this?

I do… and I do not take cash donations, although I’ll never turn down non-cash contributions. Pizza Pete, who runs the pizza oven (a filing cabinet), does supply the ingredients for the pizza. It’s his own special recipe he prepares at home.

6) Does this car go on road trips?

No, it is a Bills stadium tailgate car only. For road trips I join up with the various Bills backers organizations around the country. I do bring the bowling ball and a few bottles with me for bowling ball shots.

7) How old is this car?

1980. The last year they made pintos. Just for the record, my pinto is not one of the exploding ones that were made famous in the 70’s. I bought the car in 1986 for only 300 dollars. That comes out to only about 15 dollars a year…

8) Do the police ever stop you?

I have never been stopped while driving the pinto, but I have seen cops point and laugh when I go by. Toll booths are always fun also… I get a good double take when I go through.

9) How long do you think this car will last?

There still are model T cars from 1918 still driving around, so based on that I would assume that there are at least 60 years left. It just takes a bit of work each year to maintain.

10) How many miles are on the car?

168,000. Although a better judge would be how many miles on the engine (16,000). In the early 90’s I completely rebuilt the engine and everything attached to the engine (starter, alternator, etc). Based on that this car is just a baby!

— Ken Johnson