W is for Wisdom
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Although Wayne was in a wheelchair, the Shelby Cobra Club event at Willow Springs International Raceway was a big part of his life. Wayne had been attending the Willow Springs event since the early eighties and he and his brother had been racing Hot Rods since the early sixties. The reason Wayne quit was because he could no longer handle the fast cars. Wayne was sricken with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) several years prior to our meeting, and because of that, he had to stop racing, But that didn’t keep him from attending the events with his brother, who continued to race. (ALS is the disease that affected Lou Gehrig and Stephen Hawking.)
Wayne was originally from East Los Angeles, California, but at the time of this interview, he lived in Hemet, California, USA. Wayne’s brother owned a fire sprinkler company and Wayne had been a field Foreman for him. They had many famous customers such as Sears and Disneyland. One time, Wayne flooded a Sears store because he accidentally pulled the fire sprinkler. This earned him the nickname Rainman. Wayne was forced to retire in 2002 because he required bypass surgery.
Wayne’s brother had been racing a 1966 Shelby GT350 since the early eighties, sold it to Wayne who took it to car shows until he sold it. The current owners were at Willow Springs running it (see below.)
Wayne and his brother had a lot of different cars throughout their lives: eight different Shelbies, hot rods, a Model A Roadster pickup, a 37 Ford Roush Mustang with a tubular frame and a Trans Am. Any that were racing class, Wayne ran at Willow Springs at some point in time.
Wayne’s brother bought an old David Pearson car (see below) which, at time of purchase, looked like it belonged in the junkyard. His brother recently finished restoring it, and the picture below represents the first time it came out to run. One of the places, besides Willow Springs, that his brother was planning to run was with the Historic Grand National Stockcars Group which was North of San Francisco, California; a place where several tracks could run Sportsman Class (non-NASCAR) cars.
Another interesting fact about Wayne’s cars is that when Wayne could no longer drive his 200 Shelby, he sold it to a developer from Miami, Florida, USA. Prior to selling it to him, his brother replaced the street motor with a race motor. About two and a half months prior to this interview, the new owners gave it extensive exposure by running it at Sebring International Raceway and Atlanta Motor Speedway and were planning to run it at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in June. The new owners were going to have a NASCAR famous woman driver, Sarah Fisher, driving alongside the owner at Indy.
Wayne’s motorized wheelchair moved in so many positions, I’m not sure Wayne could count them. Wayne was kind enough to move into the shade, for optimum light conditions, and then he leaned the chair back so I could have a better angle. Thank you Wayne for your time, your stories, and your efforts.
Image Credits: Bat-Ami Gordin © 2017 all rights reserved. Credit if you use it, please.