INDIANAPOLIS, IN - August 30, 1998 Juggling a successful construction contracting business, a family with two young children and a racing career can take it’s toll on anyone. But Bob Weickgenannt, driver of the B & B Racing Nitro Funny Car always seems to rise to the challenge. Long hours on the job and working on the car are the mainstay of each and every week for Weickgenannt. Tremendous support from wife Betty (the other "B" in the B & B) and daughters Casey and Carly make the rough edges a bit smoother.
At the 1996 U.S. Nationals, Weickgenannt was sitting in the cockpit of a decidedly different ride. At the 1996 event, the team was competing in one of it's final Alcohol Funny Car events. A great deal has changed since 1996. . . Alcohol Funny Car is now Federal Mogul Funny Car, the B & B team has added some crew members and a new co-crew chief, and the obvious change is the move to the Nitro Funny Car class.
After the '96 season, the team took delivery of its' Pluegger-chassied Dodge Avenger. After running the Memphis and Reading events last season, they set out to run a limited schedule in 1998. The initial attempts at anything somebody does are usually fraught with twists and turns - things don't work right one minute, and in the next they go so well. Weickgenannt's effort was no exception. Getting the car down the track was tricky at times and equipment breakage was much more frequent than in the alcohol car. But through it all, the team never lost the confidence that they could compete and be successful.
After a successful campaign in the alcohol funny car, a consistent performer in Division 1 and National Event competition, it was a new experience for the team to spend so much time just trying to get the car down the track. But get it down the track they did and, in the two events at the end of the 1997 season, they worked out many of the bugs that plague every new endeavor. Sponsors Variform Vinyl Siding and Velux Roof Windows and Skylights stayed on for the move to the professional ranks. The team added Tenneco Building Products for this year, as well.
The 1998 season dawned with hope and excitement for the B & B team at the Gatornationals, in Gainesville, FL. Weickgenannt made an early decision to run the number of events possible for the level of sponsorship the team had secured. Why run on a shoestring budget and not be competitive? It's the old adage . . if you can't do it right, why do it at all? With that in mind, they put together an all-out effort to be competitive and improve each and every time down the track. From Gainesville, the team made the trek to Richmond, VA for the Pennzoil Nationals where they qualified in the #15 position for Sunday's eliminations. Richmond was a turning point for Weickgenannt and the team - they had realized a sought-after goal in only four events in the professional ranks, something many teams take much longer to achieve.
After a disappointing DNQ at the Mopar Nationals in Englishtown, NJ, the team showed flashes of brilliance at the Pontiac Excitement Nationals in Columbus, OH - a best-ever 5.11 second elapsed time at a tick under 300 MPH. When the field was set, Columbus boasted the quickest-ever field in NHRA Funny Car history and B & B Racing had secured a spot with elite company.
The U.S. Nationals bring back fond memories for both driver and crew. It's the biggest event on the National Event circuit and one that all teams look forward to. 39-year-old Weickgenannt and the team are looking toward new achievements in Indianapolis and, hopefully, securing the last spot in the Castrol 4-Second club. Continued support from sponsors like Variform, Velux and Tenneco make these efforts a bit easier, while helping to position B & B for a full- season assault on the class in 1999.
Some new equipment, new crew members and an attitude that’s continually positive will take the team a long way at Indy. Weickgenannt knows a lot about building things. . . constructing a win at the biggest event of the season would make the long hours all worthwhile!