Friday, November 27, 2009

A Scuba Diver and A Race Car Driver

I found this short clip in which Owen Lee (I remember his nickname was "Bud") tells how he got into diving. I remember Dad speaking of Bud but I hadn't thought of him in years.

A cousin of my Mother was an automobile racer and entered a car several years in the Indianapolis 500. His name was Walter Weir. He owned a Mobil gas station a the corner of Big Bend and Elm in Webster Groves, MO. The Mobil gas flying horse is suspended under an arch- I don't know if there is a connection with the Gateway Arch or not.
A quick google search turns up some stats and stories. I remember seeing his front engine "Offie" parked outside his gas station when I was a small boy and having my picture taken with the racecar. Later, he entered this car:

This is car is Gerhardt-Ford entered by Walter 'Wally' Weir for Indy 500 in '67, sponsored by Cleaver-Brooks. The car was never a contender but Weir nevertheless invited Italian Grand Prix driver Lorenzo Bandini to drive it for him (as he explained it his reason was "These foreigners know how to drive these rear engine cars."). Unfortunately Bandini lost his life in Monaco Grand Prix six days before he was to qualify for the Indy race and his place was taken by Al Miller. He qualified 31st and last- his effort deprived Jim Hurtubise a place on the grid (that would have been the last appearance of a roadster at Indy 500). Nevertheless, he was in the good company in the last row on the grid- Austrian Jochen Rindt (Grand Prix World Champion in 1970) and Graham Hill (two times World Champion, in 1962 and 1968, winner of Le Mans in 1972 and Indy 500 in 1966) were there, with Sir Jackie Stewart (triple World Champion, in 1969, 1971 and 1973)only a row in front of them. Miller retired the car on 73rd lap of the race with an oil leak.

Al Miller was born on 23 Nov 1921 in Detroit, Michigan, and died on 28 July 1978 in Mount Clemens, Michigan. His real name was Albert Krulock, although the family's old name was Krulac, before it was Americanized. He was definitely of Croatian origin (from the Spanico area), and that might explain the checkers of historic Croatian coat of arms on his car.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi! I am one of Walter Weir's daughter...who is your mom?

Busplunge said...

http://bus-plunge.blogspot.com/2008/03/old-photos.html

Gaus/ Bansbach family

Mary Louise
Evelyn
Carole Jo

lived on 7536 Murdoch Avenue in Shrewsbury, MO

my email is Jimlee138@sbccglobal.net

Anonymous said...

Hi Jim!
I sent an email to your email address and it came back as undeliverable. Do you have another one? Thanks, Lynn

Busplunge said...

jimlee138@sbcglobal.net

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viagra online said...

hello this a interesting combination, but anyway why you need a scuba and race car? whatever is the answer maybe will be a weird answer.

Anonymous said...

I am wally weirs grand-daughter. It is so awesome to see articles about my gandpa and to see the pics!! I have a few pics of some of his other cars.

Dan McCoy said...

Hello,

I grew up in Webster Groves and was very familiar with Walter Weir's gas station on Beg Bend. It was actually called Old Orchard but was a part of Webster Groves - Kaegel's Drugs right next door and Mac Hardware across the street. My dad regularly had his cars serviced there. I also knew his son, Jerry Weir and the car that he drove - 1960 Chevy coupe, light blue, 283 motor and a 3-speed trans. An odd thought is that I remember that right across the corner from his station, a paper boy would sell newspapers, even in the winter there was a large barrel with a fire started to keep him warm.

Dan McCoy