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R.I.P. Don Blair

Don relaxing

Don with Wags

Don's model of the CRA champion car driven by Jimmy Oskie


The cover of Hot Rod Magazine I never tracked down for myself

from the memorial at the NHRA Museum in Pomona, CA

Don's car was a bright green


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At Perris out front


Another Perris view


Jim Blakesley crew chief


# 12 honoring Don after he passed


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Jay East in the Blair Speed Shop # 7

Don Blair


That is Don's CRA Championship trophy, something he thought a lot of. He passed away on September 29, 2001.

For Memorial pics Click here to view.

Don and I met when he handed me $20 at the races for Wagsbucks a long time ago. As years went by, whenever he saw me he stopped to visit and press my palm with green. He had a few assignments for me along the way with stuff he wanted sent to the National Hall of Fame, but generally he had a smile and a few words for me every time we met.

I knew about his race shop and his CRA championship, but little did I know about the real him until I went to his "wake" where his friends stood up one at a time and told their story about their life with Don.

He was known as "thrifty", honest and a rare gentleman who did his business deals on a paper napkin. He bought only a few brand new cars in his lifetime and at least one was for the engine to put in a race car! He was "old School" until his death. His wardrobe was early 60's as he didn't want or need new duds.

Some former workers told stories about how he would fire them and a few minutes later give them an assignment without blinking an eye. He was emotional, but was loved by all who worked for him. It was amazing the different people who went on to be successful that started out working for him.

He had Jimmy Oskie driving his sprinter when he won his one CRA Championship and each race it was a one race deal until the next race. Don owned Blair's Speed Shop that was famous to me because of the drag racing history that I knew personally.

Don began giving me $600 a week several years ago (2005 or so) to give to the first 6 who missed making the main. I called it Mr Goodbucks, not Wagsbucks, because Don wouldn't allow me to tell where the money came from. Every Perris race the money came in and the racers thanked me without knowing where it came from. This happened until he was too sick and required hospial care.

A couple of years prior to his passing, Don was in the hospital with some knee surgery and I went to visit him. He told me of his plan to take his money and put in a trust to be doled out to CRA racers for years to come. Surprisingly, I was on this board of three people who would manage that when the time came. My role is merely to be the paymaster. Hopefully it will all happen soon, but I'll never know because I am no longer in the loop, so have no idea if the money is being paid like he planned.

Don was thinking of the racers the last years of his life and he is putting his money where his mouth is. My life is richer for having known him and I am thankful he thought enough of me to help his quest.

He is one of those GIANTS in our time and everyone in the racer community will miss him and what he has done in his lifetime. Always remember Don Blair for he was special!

Updated 9/21/17

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