Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Wahoo’s Gary Stacy

Gary Stacy is the man who owns and operates Wahoo’s Sports Cars and Mini-Golf, which I visited about a week ago. (See my previous post.)

As I write this, or sometime in the next few days, Gary will lock up his Wahoo operations near Rockford Illinois for a couple of months.

Wahoo's Sports Cars - 280Z - copyright 2010 Jeffery Blackwell

Every year at this time, he selects a pickup truck from his used car inventory and loads it up with some of the stuff that he regularly buys and sells. He’ll drive the truck down to his other place in St. Augustine, Florida. Once there, he’ll haul the stuff to a flea market and sell it all, including the truck. Gary told me that once he started this annual trip with less than $200 in his wallet and after a weekend at the flea market he had raised close to a thousand dollars.

Wahoo's main building - copyright 2010 Jeffery Blackwell

He’ll buy another vehicle and resell that one, too. Gary said he’d probably buy and sell three or four cars and trucks while he’s down there. He related to me the time he bought an MG for $500. Driving it back to his place, he remembered “what a miserable piece of junk those things are”, and immediately parked it on his front lawn with a “For Sale” sign on it. The next day someone paid him $1,500 for it.

Wahoo's used cars - copyright 2010 Jeffery Blackwell

Gary would not have struck me as a golfer, but he loves the game, which seems to be the main reason for the Florida migration. And explains why he built the mini-golf course.

Tiki hut - Wahoo's - copyright 2010 Jeffery Blackwell

Before he leaves St. Augustine, Gary will pick up some stuff from rummage sales and flea markets, and round up some Spanish moss, palm fronds and shells to enhance the tropical theme of the mini-golf course. Then, he’ll drive back north to re-open Wahoo’s Sports Cars and Mini-Golf for the season.

“Yeah, I get a lot of photographers in here. There was this one guy that set up a big box camera, and put his head under a piece of cloth,” he smiled, shaking his head at the memory.

Alligator mascot - copyright 2010 Jeffery Blackwell

I told him I was writing for my blog. I’m frequently unsure that people get what I’m doing, so I nodded at the old-school CRT monitor sitting in the corner and asked “Do you have Internet?”

“I used to,” he said and shrugged, without feeling need to offer any explanation.

Office - Wahoo's Sports Cars - copyright 2010 Jeffery Blackwell

Here’s the thing that struck me about Gary.

He has created a lifestyle that apparently does not require him to purchase or own anything new. He built his entire shop/store/house/office with used materials. He is a trader in used items, buying them second hand, using them for a while, and then selling them to be used again.

He creates new stuff from old when it suits his purpose, but respects, even honors, the wear that comes with time.

Gary seems to have no need for order or perfection; he is a master at improvisation.

“I’m just a ol’ hot rodder,” he told me, smiling; “I can make somethin’ out of anything.”

When I called him an artist, he was quiet for a moment, and then said “Thank you.”

Gary Stacy- copyright 2010 Jeffery Blackwell

All content copyright 2010 by Jeffery Blackwell


  1. Boy, that place is chock full of great stuff everywhere you look. What an intersting character. Great post!

  2. It's funny, how the sign by the door says Used (ca)rs. Made me wonder for a moment whether there are Ford Escorts, Sierras or Focuses RS-es are for sale :)

  3. My family, brother and nephew discovered Spooky Golf quite by accident about five years ago, and it became the stuff of family legend. My parents stil live in Rockford, and this weekend we were back for 4th of July celebrations and decided to try and seek out the place again. It was still there, much as we'd remembered it but with some different memorabilia around. We paid $3 each for a round of mini golf and Gary told us to play for as long as we liked. He also showed us one of the kit cars out back which he said he'd like to work on in the fall, but it had been too hot to work on just recently. We spent a very enoyable hour or so just chatting and putting and looking at all the found art. And swatting mosquitos!

    It was great to discover your blog posts and to know that there are others who enjoy this place, as we do, for its utter "uniqueness." We have a great affection for Spooky Golf and have enjoyed discovering it and its gentle soul of an owner.

  4. Anon -

    I really enjoyed my time with Gary, and it's good to know he's back from Florida, and the mini-golf is back in business. I hope you got some pictures of your family playing "Spooky Golf", because when I talked to Gary last fall, he was thinking about selling the place, as long as the new owner promised not to tear down all of his art.


Thanks for commenting! Double clutch!!