Built in 1972 by A.J. Watson for car owner Bob Wilke, with Johnny Parsons the first driver. Tom Bigelow took over driving duties in 1974, winning five races in five years, including four-in-a-row during the 1975-’76 seasons.
In 1977, the car was converted to small-block Chevy power.
In 1979, Wilke hired Bobby Olivero, a California hot shoe and 1977 Indy 500 veteran. At the first race for the team, the 1979 Tony Bettenhausen 100 in Springfield, Illinois, Olivero spun out on the first lap of practice and bumped the wall, causing Watson to look at Wilke and say, “Who is this @#$& driver you hired, anyway?”
But when the car was towed in, it was found that Watson hadn’t tightened the sway-bar which caused the crash. Upon discovering the problem, Wilke turned to Watson and stated, “I guess I have a @#$& mechanic to go along with my @#$& driver!” At the end of that day, Wilke, Watson and Olivero were standing in victory lane as winners of the Tony Bettenhausen 100!
The team went on to also win the Hoosier 100 that year along with the USAC Dirt Championship title. Olivero drove the car for the next seven years also winning the 1982 Tony Bettenhausen 100.
Mondays & Fridays: 12pm-4:30pm