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Hot Tub Hot Rod

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Modified bath tub is one clean machine

By Christopher Brooke, Reporter

FANCY GAP — A couple has gone racing down memory lane with a tub full of recollections about grassroots tracks, cars, drivers and mechanics.
Before NASCAR took over the racing world, many communities had homegrown speedways — dirt or paved — where driver revved up engines and mechanics tinkered on the cars just for the excitement.

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That includes Hillsville, where many locals tasted the thrills of the high-speed hobby.
In those days, Russell Nelson, former owner of Russell's Garage; Cecil Quesinberry; Roger Gardner; R.E. Brim and several others teamed up to try to run the fastest car around.
The nostalgia of it all got Timmy Quesinberry and Faith Johnson off the starting line with a tinkering project of their own.
Quesinberry fondly remembers the days of hanging out with his father, Cecil, in the garage.
He saved a newspaper clipping from back then, telling how his father cooperated with Nelson and Gardner to fit a 1937 yellow and black Chevy with a 302 Chevy engine.
They entered that machine into NASCAR competitions at Bowman Gray Stadium and Franklin County Speedway.
With the decline of the smaller venues and after Nelson gave up racing in 1977, only a few pieces remained of this car. But Quesinberry improvised to remember his father and the racing circuit.
Nelson found the parts that remained in the shop at the old race track in Hillsville, and brought them to Quesinberry.
A hood, a header, a steering wheel and a tire came from the cars and the sport that his dad put so much effort into, Quesenberry said. Though many people scrapped their cars, these pieces were preserved because they got shut away inside the old garage and hidden below some old hay.
Other pieces Quesinberry found in junkyards. He took those and combined them with an old bathtub that Johnson planned to use for another decorating project.
The modified five-foot-long tub — the new No. 11 — now sits along the side of U.S. 52 as part of their landscaping. Johnson has watched traffic pull over, people jump out with their cameras to snap pictures of their art, often heedless of other speeding vehicles on Fancy Gap Highway.
This fits in with other junkyard finds that Quesinberry has spruced up for reuse. It also goes well with their sense of aesthetics, she said.
"We're weird collectors — we love to shock people," Johnson explained. "The more unique the more we want it."
Quesinberry lost his father in 1995, but this will help preserve family memories. Johnson said they want their children and grandchildren to be able to learn about their family's history.
It didn't take long for Johnson to realize how special that past was to Quesinberry. She remembers him showing her the old garage on their third date.
"It was important enough to him he had to work it into our date," she said.
It also brought back memories for Nelson, who enjoys talking about the seven cars he and nine or 10 friends volunteered to build.
Cars that they worked on won seven races in a row on the dirt in Pulaski and took the $500 prize for a long 200-lap race in Hillsville, he recalled.
For Nelson, racing totally outpaced other pursuits, like hunting and fishing, and looking back makes him feel special.
"He brings people by to look at it," Johnson noted about Nelson and the tub.
"It's unbelievable what they've done," Nelson said. "I'm proud of them. It brings back so many memories."