Former NASCAR driver Rich Bickle, 46, of Janesville, Wis., will be available to signing autographs at the Iola ’09 “Teamed to Learn” tent during the July 9-12 event in Iola, Wis. Bickle will also be demonstrating how to construct or restore classic and muscle cars. Bickle spent 430 years in the racing world and is a veteran of 218 career NASCAR starts. In 2005, he began stepping back from the sport of racing and wanted to stay busy. Since he had a love of building cars at his old shop in North Carolina, Bickle purchased Kevin Laatch’s Performance Automotive In Janesville and started a new company called Muscle Up Performance and Hot Rods. During a recent visit, Old Cars Weekly viewed an original 1940 Ford Tudor Sedan that Bickle’s shop is restoring, as well as the Resto-Mods his crew is constructing on a ready-to-go chassis that slips right under a number of popular sports cars, pony cars and mid-size muscle cars. We asked Bickle if he’d be interested in attending the Iola Show and he answered, “I’ll sign autographs all weekend if you want me to.” Bickle has been thrilling the public with his friendly attitude and his racing exploits since he was a teen-ager. He made his stock car racing debut at Jefferson Speedway and became well-known as a talented driver on paved short tracks. He won championships at Slinger and Capital (Madison) Speedways. The Edgerton native was also successful outside the Badger State and won several nationwide events such as the Players 500 Championship in Canada and the Snowball Derby in Pensacola, Fla. In all, Bickle won more than 260 late-model stock car main events. He took the Snowball Derby crown a record five times. Bickle made his big league NASCAR debut in 1989. Over the next 11 seasons, he did 85 Winston Cup starts. His best finish was a fourth at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway in 1998. Bickle also appeared in 54 NASCAR Busch Series starts from 2004-2003, winning the pole at Charlotte in 1995. His greatest success came in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series where he posted three wins, 34 Top-10 finishes and six pole positions in 79 career division starts. During his career, Bickle drove for NASCAR legends Richard Petty, Darrell Waltrip, Cale Yarborough and Rick Hendrick.
Gunner’s Garage with John Gunnell
"Gunner" is one of of the most prolific authors and most visible characters in the old car hobby. He has written dozens of books about old cars for Krause Publications and is the former editor and publisher of Old Cars Weekly. His collecting pursuits range from old Pontiacs, to MGs, to retired police cruisers, to Indian motorcycles. He remains a frequent contributor to Old Cars Weekly and owns and operates Gunner’s Great Garage, a classic car restoration and gift shop in Manawa, Wis.
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