“I’ve tried to run my business like Don ran his. He taught me a lot about business, scruples, common sense, and all. He’d let you have the run of the place after work, you could use the equipment. I built a blower drive there on an old lathe that was used to straighten driveshafts. He’d help you buy parts and give you his opinion. He liked hiring people and teaching them.

“They called him Double Dollar Don—as in taking advantage of people. Anyone who worked for Don will dispute that. A guy would bring in a manifold and sell it to Blair and Don would give him $50 for it. Don would mark it up to a $100 and set it out on the counter. The guy couldn’t understand why he couldn’t buy it back for $50. That’s where the double-dollar came from.”

Don “Bushy” Wilson

Don Wilson (who was quite ill and died shortly after my interview), along with his other ventures, was part owner of the Long Beach Swap Meet, as well as a partner in Special Projects Motorsports in Orange, California, after leaving Blair’s.

“Blair’s was an institution,” Wilson stated. “I lived in Pasadena and was a parts driver/counter-person at Blair’s. I knew the prices and how to sell parts and did a little work in the back. I’d go to the Sprint Car races with Blair at Ascot Park in Gardena to sell fuel and I got to be in the infield. Blair had the only Offy-powered Sprint Car there. When Danny Roberts took over the motor building, the car ran better and more reliably.

“If you made a mistake Don would take you to the back of the shop and quietly explain to you what you did wrong but stressed to not do it again. He was a gentleman.

“When Don was out buying parts, every pocket of Don’s had money in it of different denominations. Depending on what the price of the item, Don would reach into a certain pocket and say, “I only have so much on me”. Don was called the hook. He’d get your money by hook or by crook,” Wilson chuckled. “But Don gave good value for the money. He was as straight arrow as they come.

“When Super Shops went into business people wouldn’t even touch Blair’s, but he had the last laugh. When they went out of business, he bought a lot of their inventory. He was real good at buying cheap and selling later.”

Conclusion

Those were just a few of the fond remembrances from the guys who worked at Blair’s. Don Blair lives in Covina and still supports his much-loved Sprint Car racing.

Blair’s is alive and well thanks to owner Phil Lukens during these difficult times. While others claim to be the oldest speed shop—nope, do the math.

And before you think Blair’s Speed Shop is some sort of museum stuck in time—it’s not. Yes it is scaled down from the past, but you can still get a driveshaft-twistin’ motor built plus there’s lots of speed equipment on the shelves for sale. Stop in and shop. Experience the place for yourself. You might regain a tiny part of your youth.

The Chevy II

Pete Eastwood: “General Motors sent Don a brand-new 396ci Chevy for the AFX Chevy II in the crate; no one else except the factory had ever seen one, not even the dealers. Mike Hoag fabricated a blower manifold out of aluminum plate, milled it all out, and welded it together because you couldn’t buy one. Steve Bovan matched-raced that car all over the United States, including Hawaii.”

The Camaro

Pete Eastwood worked at Don Blair’s in the early ’70s but he knew first-hand about Don’s Camaro because he was allowed to accompany Bovan to the drags as a youngster: “It was one of the very first fiberglass flip-top Funny Cars on the West Coast. The whole car was built right there at Blair’s Speed Shop. Mike Hoag built the chassis. They bought a brand-new Chevy truck and lengthened the chassis, made a ramp truck out of it, and put a sleeper on it. I remember them bringing the new truck into the speed shop with the cab and chassis and they lengthened the driveshaft, built the ramp bed right at Blair’s. Don had a touring Funny Car operation right there out of the speed shop.”