Is "old blue" the one that was, on occasion, displayed in the infield at the Grove and perhaps at the Port- lots o' chrome, and, as I recall, with Paul Pitzer as the driver??????? Is that the one at the EMMR????
Yes. In the mid-1980s, I was the president of the local GM parts and service managers club and was asked by Chevrolet to have a display at that August's Super Chevy Sunday event at Maple Grove Raceway. I knew Chevrolet would have new cars in their display next to ours and there would be plenty of straight-line cars around, so I tried to round up some dirt cars. Bob Fannasy loaned me a super sportsman, Jim Bernhisel(sp?) let us use a late model and there were a few others but I was having trouble getting a sprint car. Every multi-car team I asked gave me "definite maybes" but I needed something surer than that. The only car owner I hadn't asked was Bob Weikert because his arms-across-the-chest scowl from atop his trailer said, "Go away, boy - you bother me!"
When the event was just three weeks away, I worked up the courage to call the Weikert's Livestock "race farm" (that was the listing in the Adams County phone directory). Doug Wolfgang answered and I was tongue-tied for a second - I was speaking with THE Doug Wolfgang - but I eventually spit out what I wanted. Doug said they had just the car for me and I should be at the shop at 9:00 Saturday morning as Bob was always there at that time. Doug told me that if Bob liked me, anything he had was mine to use but if not, well...
Bob liked me and we walked to the building behind the race shop where I found old sprint car frames with bodywork stacked on top of each other with names like Wolfgang, Kauffman, Davis and others on them. "We run a car 30 shows then sell it," Bob told me, "but I keep the good ones - don't want to have to race against them, you know." I later discovered that there were enough big-block engine parts and wheels, ungrooved Firestone 500 drag tires and other old sprint car parts in the attic of that building to fully restore a couple of those historic cars. But that day, Bob walked me to the last bay in the garage and proudly introduced me to "Old Blue." I could see that it had been restored but it was filthy and scuffed and scratched from being displayed someplace where kids had climbed all over it. It was a breezy day and when we rolled it outside, a cloud of dust blew off of it. Paul Pitzer had done the restoration and it was nothing short of beautiful.
Bob gave me an open trailer to haul it on and I took it back to the dealership where I worked and began the task of "re-restoring" it. Scuffed lettering was touched up, rusty chrome was redone, missing items like spark plug wires were replaced and I spent more hours than I want to remember cleaning and polishing it. But it was a huge hit at SCS - when word spread about what was in that second Chevrolet tent, people stood in line for hours to see it. We eventually pushed all the dirt cars outside the tent so more people could look at them and take pictures of them.
A few months later, the new issue of Super Chevy Sunday Magazine
had a multi-page shoot of "Old Blue" and the other dirt cars. It was a first for the magazine's photographers to see dirt cars at a SCS event and the first time - and maybe only time - that dirt cars appeared in that magazine. Bob was so proud of the spread that he gave me a 24' Gold Rush trailer to keep "Old Blue" in and take it to other places for display. I wound up traveling with the team any time they wanted two cars at the track and often received calls at all hours of the night advising me that the only car they taken had been badly damaged and they needed another one from the shop at the track the next day. I was a lot younger then and that was fun. Bob bought me two World of Outlaws memberships so pit passes would be discounted, so I would often call one of my nephews or Ken Duke, the service manager at Paul Stine Chevrolet in Selinsgrove, to be my helper. Kenny was always up for a race and like me, never took a "vacation" so he had vacation days to burn.
I then started pursuing a sponsorship for Bob from Chevrolet - it took two years but the corporate office eventually recommended to the local Chevrolet dealers' ad group that they sponsor the team and Gary Lawrence, who we all know is huge racing fan and who was a "closet" Weikert fan, presented a check from the Keystone Chevy Dealers to Bob for $50,000. That's fifty grand in 1988 dollars! One of the conditions of the sponsorship was that "Old Blue" be available for showroom displays and I would tow the trailer to a dealership, set the display up and leave the trailer there until I returned for the car. I would haul it to the next dealership, give it a quick detailing and set the display up again. The displays at race tracks like Williams Grove were fun because the car had history at most of them but a complete wash-and-dry was needed afterward, not just a quick wipe-off, so I limited the number of those displays.
That was a time in my life that I'll never forget and I went back to spending my free time shooting trap toward the end of Bob's days as a car owner because it hurt to see him watching his car run from inside a van parked in the track's infield. He really was the glue that held that team together and it was his moxie that made it successful.