Bruce Blair in the No. 36...
Bruce Blair in the No. 36 at Carrell Speedway (Nov. 30, 1947) was very much his own man, both as an accomplished racer as well as a businessman. Had Bruce lived, the brothers would have made a great team.”
“Blair had four muffler racks; his muffler business was winding down. Out of four racks only one was kept busy all day because there were muffler shops springing up everywhere.
“By then we were doing a lot of engines and transmissions,” Hoag says, “mainly ’55-57 Chevys. We were taking out the Powerglide transmissions and replacing them with four-speeds. We did a lot of that. It just multiplied.
“Don had a friend who was an Oldsmobile dealer in Pasadena and knew that he could buy Chevy parts from any GM dealer, including his friend. He knew the part numbers, so he would buy all of the clutch linkage parts, cross shafts, and pedals for the manual transmissions. Don would buy 10 of everything.
“When I started to work at Blair’s I went upstairs for something and there were boxes of Ford Flathead Forgetrue pistons from the floor to ceiling against the north wall. Every year of the Winternationals a bunch of Ford Flathead guys would leave with boxes of those pistons. Don got good deals.
“We started by repairing a tube axle job that some shop botched up and we started doing more of that, one thing led to the next. We ended up not doing any muffler work at all.
“Don (Bushy) Wilson was constantly parking his car in front of the muffler racks. We’d have to find him and get him to move his car. We would ask him nicely not to park there. He did it once too often, so I decided I was going to weld his car to the rack so it would be there forever. I took a piece of angle iron and tack welded it to his frame and the other end to the muffler rack,” Hoag laughs.
“We were working late one night when Robby Robison took his Cad to the doughnut shop. He didn’t have any taillights on it because when he cut the top off, the wires that went up through the doorposts to the taillights were cut as well. It didn’t have a windshield either.
“He comes flying in though the back driveway, the car was probably 1 1/2 feet off the ground, sliding up to the muffler rack and the cops were right behind him. Robison gets out and says to the cop, ‘What’s happenin’ man?’ and the cop was fit to be tied. The cop said, ‘The taillights don’t work and it doesn’t have a windshield.’ Robison said, ‘But the wipers work.’ And he puts the wipers on and they’re flopping in the breeze. So the cop said, ‘That ought to be real good for your glasses in the fog.’ Before it was over, Robby had them in stitches saying, ‘We better not see that thing again,’ and left laughing themselves silly.
“Depending on who you were, you had a private charge account. You’d come in and get this camshaft or blower manifold and Don would write it up and put it in his file. That file was full of a lot of deadbeats. Guys owed Don a lot of money and took advantage of him. Some owed $2,000 or more.
“The State came in one time and went over Don’s books. They found this file of all of those invoices. Don wasn’t paying the sales tax because he hadn’t been paid himself. You can’t do that. They told Don he was in violation, and whether he collected the money or not, he had to pay the sales tax.
“They were there for three days. I said to Don, ‘Why don’t you turn this over to collections and pay them 15 percent?’ He just wouldn’t do it. Don was that kind of guy. He ended up paying all the back taxes.
“There was an area that we called the Bull Pen with grease and oil 6 inches thick. Rearend housings, broken blocks, and cylinder heads—it was nasty. Don used to talk about his rose garden and we’d go … yeah, it probably has the roses stacked up with old rearend housings.