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Local man reunited with racing past (IN)

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PRINCETON — It’s been 37 years since Jack Gulley raced a car on a dirt track, but after the surprise on his 76th birthday, he’s ready to start again.

About a year ago Gulley showed up at Bob’s Garage and & Wrecker Service in Francisco with one of his old dirt track cars on a rollback. The owner of Bob’s Garage, Bob Weiner and another friend, Terry Todd, knew it needed to be fixed up.

Weiner has known Gulley since he was 14 and came to work for him at Gulley’s Auto Salvage and Towing.

“I worked for him for 14 years,” Weiner said. “We were in a salvage yard, but we did whatever it took. Everything.”

One day when they weren’t doing anything and everything for the business, Gulley and Weiner found themselves in the stands of a dirt track race.

“We sat on the grandstand bleachers and we were like everybody else,” Weiner said. “We sat and watched and looked and watched and said ‘we can do that.’”

After they built their first car they found it would take a long time to do what they saw on that track, but they were hooked.

“It’s like a lot of other things once you do it, I mean I was totally hooked,” Weiner said. “For me that was the best time of my life, when I got to race.”

The two ran races in places around the Gibson County area like Haubstadt, Chandler and Paducah, Kentucky, “back when racing was racing” Weiner said.

There were about eight cars along the way, and that’s part of what makes the vehicle they fixed up so special.

“Of every car we built and run, it’s the only one left,” Gulley said.

He said some of the vehicles didn’t last too long and it wasn’t that simple to total one and come up with a new one before the next race. Drivers drove what they brought and fixed what they brought.

“Most of them were totalled to the point they just went to the salvage yard,” Weiner said.

It’s not quite starting from scratch, but for this rebuild, the group had its work cut out. The car had been left in the elements for years. There was rust on much of the body and honeysuckle had invaded it as well.

Gulley stored it indoors sometimes, but he said the body had weathered quite a bit.

“A lot like us,” Weiner said.

For the volunteers who helped with the rebuild, it was a mix of interest in the car and respect for Gulley.

“Just about everybody in the county knows him and further out than that,” Weiner said. “We used to have guys come from all over to buy parts.”

Now that the car is back in working order, Gulley is looking for a track that holds nostalgia class races. But if they don’t find a place, Weiner isn’t opposed to renting a track to take it out on.

Weiner said there’s nothing like racing on the dirt track. Gulley was able to drive it on his birthday, but hasn’t gotten it out on dirt just yet.

“I just drove it around the block on the street,” he said. “That’s nothing like a track.”

The two now have family who race, but even if they didn’t, they would find their way to races.

“I don’t care if you’re 10 or you’re 100,” Weiner said. “If it’s in your blood, you’re not going to get away from it.”

 

 

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