What follows is part two of a story I began in the February 2018 issue of Roddin’ & Racin’. It was entitled: “One Man’s Junk…” and told the story of a unique wrecking yard in Springfield, Oregon that is brimming with eclectic vehicles. “Another Man’s Treasure” tells the story of what at first appears to be a similar venue but in fact turns out to be…“a collection”. For the most part nothing is for sale here.
I spent the better part of a day with the owner exploring the grounds and taking pictures. I have known Bob Farwell for many years and consider him a friend. Yes, he’s a chatterbox but if you are willing to listen, he has many interesting stories to tell. He is bright, resilient, insightful, kind of heart and as passionate about automobiles as any person I’ve ever met.
And then there’s “the collection”…Wow. I have to admit that my reaction to it was somewhere between fascination and horror. The tour of his compound left me reeling. I had very mixed emotions about what I’d seen and that makes it difficult to write about. Then a few weeks later I received word that he’d had a fire and a portion of his collection was destroyed. The news made me nauseous but I imagined that it was devastating to him. At that point I decided that the second part of my story would never be published- then I ran into Farwell at a swap meet. I offered my condolences and told him of my decision. Much to my surprise, he was disappointed! In spite of everything, he wanted to see a story about his collection in print.
So here it is. It is not my best work. It is not the story I initially intended to write. It’s not much of story at all but fortunately…the photographs speak for themselves.
Bob Farwell is a collector of a different sort. He collects antique cars, race cars from different eras and much, much more. There is a collection of radio controlled airplanes, small industrial engines and mechanical oddities. What appears at first to be a scrapyard is in actuality an uncategorized assemblage. Every object is somehow meaningful to Farwell and worthy of saving. Every object has a story attached- a story that Farwell is anxious to tell. I think in many cases the stories are of more value than the objects themselves.
Farwell has had an interesting life full of ups and downs. He has been a championship winning race car owner. He has lost one of his best friends (due to heart failure) in a midget that he owned. He is the former owner of Cottage Grove Speedway and readily admits to losing a fortune in that endeavor but expresses no regrets. Until very recently, he owned a successful bar and grill adjacent to the State Fairgrounds. And of course, he still owns an amazing collection of race cars. They include:
A 1957 Grant King Big Car powered by a 302 c.i. GMC engine. King was a master race car builder of Chinese descent with strong ties to the Pacific Northwest. Eventually he settled in Indianapolis where he built numerous racers that compete in the Memorial Day Classic
The Rennsport house midget. A 70’s era bullet propelled a 165 c.i. “Staggerfire” V-4 engine. This potent racer was driven by some of the best short trackers in the business including Jimmy Sills and Jan Opperman.
An extremely rare Don Edmunds-built, rear engine midget powered by an Auto-Craft (Full race Volkswagen) engine. This car was campaigned in the Pacific Northwest but remains a bit of a mystery. Edmunds acknowledged having built the car to Farwell but it is not mentioned in the exhaustive biography on Edmunds published by Paul Weisel, Jr. last year.