Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Wahoo's Sports Cars and Mini-Golf

Wahoo's - Street View - copyright Jeffery Blackwell 2010



I had taken a detour off my route from Sterling, IL to my house specifically to get a look at the Chrysler Assembly Plant in Belvidere, IL. What a soulless place that is. Like a zombie factory.

Then, I was attracted by the signs proclaiming Rockford Speedway to be “Where the Action Is!” Drove by. Looked around. Never got out of the car.

I was letting my GPS guide me home – up 2nd Street out of Rockford, through Machesney Park, where, on the frontage road, tucked into a grove of pine trees, lies Wahoo's.


Wahoo's Sports Cars - copyright 2010 Jeffery Blackwell


Wahoo's is the creation of Gary Stacy. Literally.

Wahoo's Sports Cars, which also sells a lot of vehicles that are not sporty at all, is also home to Wahoo's Mini Golf and is unquestionably unlike anything I had ever seen. Gary built the place himself out of scrap materials. Barn wood, telephone polls, glass blocks, tin, stones and bricks, all recycled.



Wahoo's sign copyright Jeffery Blackwell 2010



At the roadside, there are Gary’s handmade signs, which are art in themselves. (I didn’t even notice that the “W” in Wahoo's is an inverted McDonald’s logo until I was getting these images ready to post. There’s layers and layers of stuff here.)




Wahoo's SPorts Cars - Nissan and Volvo - copyright 2010 Jeffery Blackwell



Beside the road there is a row of vehicles for sale. Behind those, there is the mini golf course, which wanders out into the woods. Gary always keeps one hole shoveled all winter so he can practice putting.

“It doesn’t help. I’m still lousy”, he told me.



Wahoo's - Golf Fort - copyright 2010 by Jeffery Blackwell




A short stroll down the wooded path brings you to the office of Wahoo's, which looks like a hybrid of a gingerbread house on acid and a Tiki Bar. Spanish moss dangles from the pine trees. Gary’s art is everywhere.




Wahoo's mini golf - hole 1 - copyright 2010 by Jeffery Blackwell


Gary established Wahoo's 40 years ago, and specializes in affordable used cars and trucks. (CASH ONLY! OR GOOD CHECKS) The car lot came first, and the mini-golf course was built around it. Gary says he wanted a park-like setting for his business, not some slab of asphalt. “This was all country then,” he told me.




Wahoo's - Office exterior - copyright 2010 by Jefery Blackwell




Gary has trophies from his racing days down at the Speedway. Besides cars and trucks, he collects and sells auto memorabilia and general old stuff that he likes. He keeps it a while, and then sells it when he gets tired of it. And can make a few dollars.

In fact, the whole of Wahoo's is up for sale. The property, buildings, businesses. Gary says that forty years is enough. But he will not sell to anyone who wants to tear down Wahoo's. "Not while I'm alive," he vowed.





Blakely Bansee frame - copyright 2010 Jeffery Blackwell


Gary has built a couple of hundred cars from the ground up. He and his partner, a Mr. Blakely, now deceased, designed and built the Blakely Banshee, whose hand-welded frames were based on the stock cars that Gary raced, one of which is now serving seed to the local birds. The sign for Blakely Automobiles still stands out front. (I did not even see that cat when I took this picture.)


Blakely Automobiles sign - copyright 2010 by Jeffery Blackwell



Gary has, as you would hope, a full repertoire of stories, a few of which I will recount in my next post.

I was lucky that I happened on Wahoo's when I did, as in two weeks Gary will be packing some stuff into his truck and heading down to his other place in St. Augustine, Florida, where he will trade some cars and play some golf. Hence the “Closing for Winter” and the “Still Open” signs.

Still time to catch him if you need a sports car. Or anything.



Wahoo's - front door - copyright 2010 by Jeffery Blackwell



All content copyright 2010 Jeffery Blackwell

8 comments:

  1. Hey, thanks, Jacek! Nice to hear from you!

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  2. Wow, that's my kinda place. I dig the Volvo P1800 rotting away!

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  3. That Datsun + Volvo image breaks my heart!

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  4. Gábor -

    I know, The Z car was $4000, but has REALLY bad paint. The Volvo is certainly a classic but pretty far gone...

    I went to your site, Shiny Red Cars at http://srcint.blogspot.com/ and absolutely LOVE the pen & ink drawings with your thoughts about the cars written all around them. What a unique way to express yourself! How long have you been doing this?

    Thanks for the comment.

    Jeff

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  5. Hello Jeff, nice to meet you!

    I've just noticed your comment and thanks for the following, I really like your blog, too!

    I've invented this whole thing I do about two weeks ago. The very first post was done during a very boring meeting and I went from there. It's actually a pen-only "art" and the greatest thing about it that you can do it anytime, anywhere. There's one un-posted yet I did on the toilet XD

    I have tons of these in advance, all scanned I post them on daily basis.

    I appreciate your comment and your kind words, I wish you the best for your blog!

    Gábor

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  6. Thank you so much for this great story. This is my Dad's place and I spent many weekends and summers working out there, that place is pretty special to me. I helped him build a couple of those mini putt holes too, which was quite a challenge!

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    1. Nice to hear from you Rebecca!

      I really enjoyed spending some time with your Dad, listening to his stories and admiring his artwork.

      I don't get through that area much these days, and was wondering if he ever sold the place. If he hasn't, I might have to make a trip down there soon, to check out what he's been up to since this post was written.

      I trust that you inherited your dad's creative drive and originality. You're lucky if you did!

      Best wishes,

      Jeff

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Thanks for commenting! Double clutch!!