For the last three and a half decades, Jerry Bickel race cars have been winning NHRA, IHRA and PDRA world championships.
Many of the cars are built about an hour from St. Louis, near Moscow Mills.
Saturday morning, Bickel’s business had a scare as one of his storage facilities went up in smoke damaging several vehicles inside and destroying supplies.
“I had people calling me from all over the United States,” said Bickel. “I had one customer call me from Kuwait this morning, another from Bahrain, and another one from Qatar.”
But Bickel’s business wasn’t their main concern.
“Believe it or not, they wanted to know how my cat was; Pete,” said Bickel. “‘Is Pete OK?’ And I said, ‘Yep Pete’s fine.’”
The fire did destroy an estimated $1 million in supplies, including an RV, trailer and several customer’s vehicles that were in storage waiting to be worked on.
Under normal circumstances, Bickel has about a six-month backlog of orders. The fire has put him even further behind schedule and catching up will take a lot of work, but he says his staff is up to the task.
“I’ve got a crew of about 35 people that work here and they are all just hard working country boys and girls, and that’s all they know; is to get the job done,” said Bickel
Bickel says, a fire like this can happen to anyone, and he is grateful he has so much support.
“It just makes you feel so good,” said Bickel.
Bickel says he is confident they will be able to recover from the fire without it impacting his chances at building more championship cars for 2017.
The fire remains under investigation. Authorities say preliminarily it appears to be accidental.