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Old 04-17-2009, 03:21 PM   #1
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Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Lakewood, Colorado
Age: 55
Posts: 1,063
Post Lou Wendzel

- Written by Buzz Wendzel

Lou Wendzel (Cheyenne, WY) grew up in Erie, CO during the 1920s and early 1930s. He was the middle-son of an immigrant miner from Poland who came to America in the early 1900s to work in the many coal mines that surrounded Erie.

All of Louís racing history will be presented in-depth via subsequent postings. But for now, here is a condensed profile-summary of my Dadís life and racing history. As a teenager and during the Depression, Lou joined the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) of Colorado and was assigned to SCS-7-C located near Castle Rock, CO. The CCC taught Lou how to drive and work on trucks while the CCC built roads and bridges in this area of Colorado.

In the mid-to-late 1930s, Lou moved to Denver and drove trucks for many of the local mercantile companies in the greater Denver area. While in Denver, he met his wife, Ethel. Together, they regularly attended midget races at Merchantís Park and Lakeside Speedway. Lou never built or owned a midget racecar; but, they were always his one true love with respect to any type of racecar that he ever became associated with during his racing career. And thanks to my Dad, I still have that same love for midget racecars.

During World War II, Lou and Ethel moved to Richmond, CA where he became an apprentice-electrician supporting the U.S. Merchant Marine war effort. After the war, Lou and Ethel moved back to Erie, CO, and then to Cheyenne, WY where he took an electrician job with the Union Pacific Rail Road (UPRR). My two sisters and I grew-up on the south side of Cheyenne during the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. While in Cheyenne, Lou became actively involved with all types of automobile racing. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, he campaigned a rat-rod Ford highboy roadster at the Bonneville Salt Flats (UT). Thatís where he met the late Wally Parks, founder and life-time President of the NHRA. Lou eventually became a Charter Member of NHRA and served as one of Wallyís first-seven Regional Advisors. During the late 1940s and early 1950ís, he also flagged races at Speedway Park in Fort Collins, CO. During the 1950ís in Cheyenne, Lou was one of the designers and founders of the Wyoming Auto Racing Club (WARC) and Intermountain Speedway, as well as, the Cheyenne Timing Association and Cheyenne Dragway. In the era 1956-1959, Lou built and co-owned the many #84 Ford flat-head coupes driven and co-owned by Comp Wilson of Berthoud, CO.

Lou removed himself from the racing scene in the early 1960s, as by then, he was heavily saddled with career related responsibilities. As an Electrician Foreman for the UPRR in their Eastern Wyoming District, he was tasked 24 x 7 for the total support of an ever growing fleet of UPRR diesel-electric locomotives. In 1994, and while residing in Pueblo, CO, Lou passed away while in his late 70s. He is at rest next to his wife, Ethel, in the Evergreen Cemetery located in Colorado Springs, CO. Dad (and Mom): your son, your two daughters, and your eight grandchildren miss you greatly!

Below are some images of Lou's Bonneville pit passes, as well as a couple of other interesting photographs.
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