This was sent to me by a very close friend of Ray Tilley and is posted with his permission.
Author Jim Kramer Jr. was a member of the Ray Tilley Fan Club back in the 1960s, and wrote this after Ray's passing.
By Jim Kramer Jr.
Saint Peter headed for the garage bays, number 28 was his destination. He would find the man he was looking for there, busy as usual.
As he got closer he noted the open bay door and the sounds of hands at work with the tools of his passion. Peering through the door he saw the black number 28 Thunderbird, hood up, the man he was looking for hard at work under it.
Peter: "Brother Grimm. Brother Grimm."
Peter: "May I speak with you for a moment brother?"
Bud: "Saint Peter? Of course."
Peter: "Brother Grimm, Our Father has noticed that you are not as fulfilled with your work as you were before. Is there a problem?"
Bud: "A problem? No Saint Peter, not a problem. I just long for something new. I have enjoyed working on the cars of Brother Kulwicki, Brother Bonnett and Davey’s … ah Brother Allison’s car."
Peter: "It’s OK Bud, I call him Davey sometimes, too."
Bud: "Sure. Well as I was saying I’m not bored or upset about what I have been doing. Competing against drivers like Brother Earnhardt is a challenge. I just want something different after a while."
Peter: "I see Brother Grimm. How much longer will you be busy here?"
Bud: "Not long. I was just finishing up."
Peter: "Fine. When you are finished meet me outside. I think I have something different you might like."
Minutes later Brother Grimm stepped out of the bay 28 and closed the door. He joined Saint Peter.
Peter: "Come along now Brother Grimm."
They walked briefly, a short distance in the garage area and stopped.
Peter: "Here we are."
Bud: "Bay 88. That’s a very significant number for me."
Peter: "I know. Open it."
Brother Grimm lifted the door and a wide smile crossed his lips. Sitting in the bay, shiny and new, was a blue and white sprint car number 88. He took a walk around it taking in the beauty of the machine. Memories flooding back.
Bud: "Trevis Craft?"
Bud: "351 with Gurney heads?"
Peter: "Of course."
Bud: "Saint Peter, you have just made my day. You know it takes a special driver to handle one of these."
Peter: "Yes I know. Brother would you come in now."
Ray: "Hello Bud."
Bud: "Ray! When did you get in?"
Ray: "Not too long ago. I’ve been busy meeting family. Saint Peter thought I might like to see you when you were free. He tells me you’ve been kept very busy since you arrived here."
Bud: "Yes I have."
Peter: "What do you think of the new car that Brother Grimm has to work on Brother Tilley?"
Ray: "It’s just beautiful."
Peter: "Brother Grimm says it take a special driver to take the wheel of this. Do you know where he could find a driver?"
Bud: "Ray. It seems Saint Peter has something in mind. What do you think? Would you like to take a crack at this again?"
Ray: "Well I might give it a try again. Team up with you again Bud?"
Peter: "Of course Brother Tilley."
Bud: "Yes Ray I would like that. I would like that a lot."
Ray: "OK Bud. I would like that, too."
Peter: "Good. Well, I will leave you two to catch up on things. Oh. Brother Tilley?"
Ray: "Yes Saint Peter."
Peter: "You had the opportunity to race against Brothers Smith, Tobias, Weld, Gerhart and many others I could mention. But you never had the chance to compete against Brother Opperman did you?"
Ray: "Jan Opperman? No I never had the pleasure. Why do you ask?"
Peter: "Just asking Brother Tilley. Just asking."
Saint Peter walked away and broke into a broad smile, hearing the two old friends getting reacquainted. Things would be very interesting come next sprint car season in Heaven.
My OPINIONS are just that and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of anyone or any track I am associated with!