Bobby Watts Speed Shop and Auto / Engine Parts - MUSEUM
(Online Museum, that is)

Author: Gordon Wayne Watts ; Published and Posted: Wednesday, 24 March 2021 ; Last Updated: Sunday, 28 March 2021 (PLANT CITY and LAKELAND, FLORIDA)

WELCOME, visitor, to the Bobby Watts Speed Shop and Auto / Engine Parts - MUSEUM (online Museum, that is). Robert Franklin "Bobby" Watts (1/27/1935 - 5/3/2018, R.I.P., Rest in Peace, dad), briefly worked for "Big Daddy" Don Garlits, the highly recognised, honoured, and legendary "King of Drag Racing," and still ranked #1 drag racer in the world, when they lived in the Central Florida area, before my father passed away, and before Don moved to Ocala, FL, where he presently has the "Don Garlits Museum" of Drag Racing. My father, Bobby Watts, was the owner of the "Bobby Watts Speed Shop & Engine Parts" shop, selling auto parts and giving advice - both for "regular" cars & vehicles, as well as race car applications. This online Museum is created by his son, Gordon Wayne Watts, to honour him, and feature information about his 4 Speed Shops, his gym, the AMERICAN EAGLE GYM, and "Project America." My father was well-liked, both within and outside the drag racing community, and well-known for his business here, in central Florida, which he ran from the mid-1960's (when I was a child) until has passing in the early morning hours of Thursday, 03 May 2018. He began his business, selling parts from home, and the house in my childhood home was filled with car parts, and we had regular visitors, as our local friends of all sizes, shapes, colours, genders, and ages (but mostly guys of all ages into fast cars and drag racing) came by to buy car parts (sometimes at all hours of the day and night!), get their cars tuned, get advice on racing & car repair, or just to chat. More-broadly, my father had many friends, and to honour them (that is, to not just honour my father, but also his many friends and customers) -- as well as preserve, share, and pass on his wisdom, I'm taking time to make a brief, but representative, online museum.

Quick Links
SPEED SHOPS
PROJECT AMERICA
AMERICAN EAGLE GYM:
"A Symbol of Strength"
OBITUARY:
Rest in Peace, dad
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SPEED SHOPS

My father, Bobby Watts, was a Christian, first and foremost, and so it is fundamental to remember that my online museum, here, is useful "in the long run" (eternally, that is), only to the extent that it shares positive, and eternal life-changing Truths. (But, we can have fun, and relive the past, as well.)

HOME BUSINESS
My father began selling parts from home, and young drag racer enthusiasts came over at all hours of day and night, when I was a child. Car parts were stacked everywhere, and he had a distributor-testing machine in the (unused) bedroom, across from the master bedroom.

A ticket with home address, from parts bought from "Big Daddy" Don Garlits (click to enlarge)
"Fair Use" Google view of home business (click to enlarge)
Another view (click to enlarge)

Does anyone remember what this was? (click to enlarge)
Yes! Those who remember the old bedroom my father converted into a "work shop," complete with a Distributor Tester machine, might remember that there was a "ZOOM CLUTCH" sticker on the door, greeting you as you walked in! As I have "connections," I was able to get hold of this undated photo (showing the imprint of the long-gone ZOOM sticker), taken some time after my father's business was moved from the house to "regular" storefront speed shops. For context, here is a "FAIR USE" historical archive search of GOOGLE of this particular ZOOM CLUTCH company sticker. Enjoy... (click to enlarge)

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PLANT CITY Shop
Here's an old photo (circa 1980's) of the old Plant City shop, which was on 415 South Collins Street. (Both photos provided by Greg Koss) ADDENDUM: I recall that both Rick Terrell and Greg Koss worked at the Plant City shop, and possibly Dan Mayo, part-time. Other shop managers whom I can remember (which may overlook some due to human errors; my apologies) include Keith Putnal (who ran the Lakeland shop) and Troy Baker (who ran the Dade City shop).

Storefront (click to enlarge)
Same photo, but colour-corrected by Greg (click to enlarge)
Plant City Courier article - circa 80's (click to enlarge)
Current view (click to enlarge)

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LAKELAND Shop
A few store tickets (with the Lakeland address, at 833 N. Lake Parker Ave., Lakeland, Fla.) and some photos (before we had to close shop). Besides my father, whose "main" shop became this one, Rick Terrell was also the main shop manager for ths Lakeland shop.

2 tickets (click to enlarge)
2 more tickets (click to enlarge)g (click to enlarge)
Bobby Watts, out front (click to enlarge)
Street View (click to enlarge)

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ORLANDO Shop
This shop was at 1215 Edgewater Drive, ORLANDO, FLORIDA, in the college park area: Below, is a ticket showing the Orlando address. Look REAL closely: This ticket used to be one of "Big Daddy" Don Garlits' tickets, for his SWAMPY racing shop, but my father's business took over that rental unit, there at 1215 Edgewater Drive, in Orlando. Notice, however, what my father did: He didn't waste the left-over tickets (we're part Native American Indian and are inclined to protect our precious resources), but rather he crossed out Don Garlits' name, and phone number, putting in his own.

Cashed check with ORLANDO address (click to enlarge)
A ticket showing the Orlando address. Look REAL closely: This ticket used to be one of "Big Daddy" Don Garlits' tickets, for his SWAMPY racing shop, but my father's business took over that rental unit. (click to enlarge)
What the shop looks like nowadays - side view, and new business is there (click to enlarge)
What the shop looks like nowadays - FRONT view, and new business is there (click to enlarge)

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DADE CITY Shop
My father also had a shop in Dade City, Florida. The main store manager, as far as I recall, was Troy Baker, but my father ran each of the 4 speed shops when his manager had a day off, vacation, etc.

A ticket with a reference to our Dade City, FL store, showing phone number and hours (click to enlarge)
This envelope lists our Dade City address to verify a moment in history (click to enlarge)
Here's the old storefront, now abandoned, apparently. Notice: No business sign (click to enlarge)

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Miscellaneous images

Don Garlits wall poster (click to enlarge)
Bobby Watts at work: 8-14-2014 (click to enlarge)
Mr. Watts out front (click to enlarge)
Mom and Dad (click to enlarge)

Our old business card (click to enlarge)
Shop sticker & SWAMPY ticket (click to enlarge)
Misc. GARLITS invoice (click to enlarge)
Misc. GARLITS tickets (click to enlarge)

Bobby Watts (click to enlarge)
Me, smiling (Gordon Watts) and Don Garlits (click to enlarge)
Me, talking (Gordon Watts) and Don Garlits (click to enlarge)
Greg Koss and Don Garlits (used with permission) (click to enlarge)

Below, the "Tribute to a Lady" refers to my father's Elementary School principal, Gertrude Whitton (Mount Enon Elementary School, off of Taylor Road in N.E. Plant City, FL), who balanced authority with compassion.

Letter to NATIONAL ENQUIRER, dated 11-11-1983, page 1 (click to enlarge)
Letter to NATIONAL ENQUIRER, dated 11-11-1983, page 2 (click to enlarge)
"Thoughtologies" aka wise sayings / proverbs, referred to above, page 1 (click to enlarge)
"Thoughtologies" aka wise sayings / proverbs, referred to above, page 2 (click to enlarge)
"Tribute to a Lady," page 1 (click to enlarge)
"Tribute to a Lady," page 2 (click to enlarge)

Misc. shop envelope (click to enlarge)
Misc. shop ticket, dated 9-21-1969 (click to enlarge)
Old Hot Rod mags (click to enlarge)
Storefront shop placard (sign), after my father passed away, but before we donated it to the GARLITS Museum, hoping they may include it in their collection (click to enlarge)

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PROJECT AMERICA

"FREEDOM and LIBERTY can be preserved only through Unity -- Stand up for America or be buried by Communism!"

In the mid-1980's, my father began "Project America," an informal project to use "straight talk" to address several injustices he saw present, and, as a solution, to do the following:

1. Advocate a closer work relationship between American citizens and our government, increasing trust and respect;

2. Stronger National Defense;

3. Oppose Communism;

4. Restoring the availability of prayer in public schools (for those who who prefer this option), while also allowing those others (probably in a minority) to have available other facilities (as an option, and not compelling anyone or using government to either support or oppose any religion or the free exercise thereof);

5. A hard crackdown on hard drugs, both users and pushers, with cooperation between citizens and police. No mention of medical marijuana, which presumably would have been OK for necessary medical conditions and with medical prescription and supervision;

6. Promotion of educational T.V. documentaries which showed youth the advantages of Democracy over Communism, or, for that matter, living conditions in ANY other country without as many freedoms. This would hopefully increase gratitude and appreciation and be thankful for our country;

7. Oppose any things that threaten the American way of life;

8. A local project was to help Mexican American and other local Hispanic migrant workers, who fell upon hard times due to economic or cold weather conditions. (While many of the points above seem "Conservative,' this last point clearly shows that my father was NOT prejudiced, and indeed opposed any bias, hate, or prejudice based on colour, race, gender, or socioeconomic status.)

** Editor's Note: These goals seem like they would resonate with both Conservatives and Liberals, but we face new challenges these days, more economic, and less military, threats loom large and in charge -- and demand our immediate action.~~Editor, Gordon Wayne Watts///

"IT CAN BE DONE, IT MUST BE DONE, IT WILL BE DONE."

Selected Project America communications: Letters to France, Canada, and England ** Link for PDF format **

Letter to France, dated Nov. 9, 1983, page 1 (click to enlarge)
Letter to France, dated Nov. 9, 1983, page 2 (click to enlarge)
Letter to Canada, dated Nov. 10, 1983, page 1 (click to enlarge)
Letter to Canada, dated Nov. 10, 1983, page 2 (click to enlarge)
Letter to England, dated Nov. 10, 1983, page 1 (click to enlarge)
Letter to England, dated Nov. 10, 1983, page 2 (click to enlarge)

Selected Project America communications: Canada's response, dated Dec. 1, 1983 ** Link for PDF format **

Canada's response, dated Dec. 1, 1983, envelope (click to enlarge)
Canada's response, dated Dec. 1, 1983, page 1 (click to enlarge)
Canada's response, dated Dec. 1, 1983, page 2 (click to enlarge)
Canada's response, dated Dec. 1, 1983, page 3 (click to enlarge)
Canada's response, dated Dec. 1, 1983, page 4 (click to enlarge)

Selected Project America communications: Letter to Congressman Mike Bilirakis (dated Nov. 11,1983), and the Congressman's response (dated Jan. 10, 1984) ** Link for PDF format **

Letter to Congressman Mike Bilirakis (dated Nov. 11,1983), page 1 (click to enlarge)
Letter to Congressman Mike Bilirakis (dated Nov. 11,1983), page 2 (click to enlarge)
Letter to Congressman Mike Bilirakis (dated Nov. 11,1983), page 3 (click to enlarge)
Letter to Congressman Mike Bilirakis (dated Nov. 11,1983), page 4 (click to enlarge)
The Congressman's response (dated Jan. 10, 1984), envelope (click to enlarge)
The Congressman's response (dated Jan. 10, 1984), page 1 (click to enlarge)
The Congressman's response (dated Jan. 10, 1984), page 2 (click to enlarge)

Selected Project America communications: Letter to President Ronald Reagan, dated Nov. 14, 1983, and Congressman Mike Bilirakis' reply, dated Dec. 5, 1984 ** Link for PDF format **

Letter to President Ronald Reagan, dated Nov. 14, 1983, page 1 (click to enlarge)
Letter to President Ronald Reagan, dated Nov. 14, 1983, page 2 (click to enlarge)
Letter to President Ronald Reagan, dated Nov. 14, 1983, page 3 (click to enlarge)
Congressman Mike Bilirakis' reply, dated Dec. 5, 1984, envelope (click to enlarge)
Congressman Mike Bilirakis' reply, dated Dec. 5, 1984, a 1-page letter (click to enlarge)

Selected Project America communications: My father's press release, dated Jan. 27, 1984, defending local Hispanic and Mexican-American migrant workers ** Link for PDF format **

Press release, dated Jan. 27, 1984, cover page (click to enlarge)
Press release, dated Jan. 27, 1984, page 1 (click to enlarge)
Press release, dated Jan. 27, 1984, page 2 (click to enlarge)

Selected Project America communications: My father's letter to Congressman Mike Bilirakis (dated Feb. 13, 1984) asking for help for local Mexican-American and Hispanic migrant workers, and the congressman's response, dated Mar. 8, 1984 ** Link for PDF format **

Letter to the Congressman, dated Feb. 13, 1984, page 1 (click to enlarge)
Letter to the Congressman, dated Feb. 13, 1984, page 2 (click to enlarge)
Reply from the Congressman, dated Mar. 8, 1984, envelope (click to enlarge)
Reply from the Congressman, dated Mar. 8, 1984, page 1 (click to enlarge)
Reply from the Congressman, dated Mar. 8, 1984, page 2 (click to enlarge)

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AMERICAN EAGLE GYM:
"A Symbol of Strength"

My father ran the American Eagle Gym (and rented from Kirk Mays, and his mother, Lily Mays. Kirk's father was the late J. Arden Mays, has a local street named after him: E. J. Arden Mays Blvd., Plant City, FL). Below are selected images from that era.

But, before that, here's a small Fair Use quote (source: https://PowerShopFitness.com Archive-1: https://Archive.vn/SYsXj Archive-2: https://Web.Archive.org/web/20210120213734/https://powershopfitness.com/), from the Power Shop FITNESS, which took over when Kirk ran the gym after my father closed shop; it is a piece of history:




Power Shop Fitness has been an establishment in the Plant City area since 1990 and has been owned and operated by the Mays family. The building itself has been in the Mays family for generations.

Back in the 1970’s a gym, called Mega’s Gym, was opened for the first time. Joe Mega the owner, eventually sold the gym and in the 80’s Bobbie Watts purchased it and changed the name. With the name change, it was called the American Eagle Gym. The American Eagle Gym steadily became a growing business in the area. Mr. Watts sold the gym in the late 1980’s and the new owner kept the name. However, the new owner ended up closing the business down very unexpectedly in April of 1990. Unfortunately, all the member’s found out about the closing as they showed up to workout.

Kirk Mays was the current owner of the building and was just as surprised by the closing as the members of the American Eagle gym. Kirk got in touch with Mr. Watts, asked him about the equipment he owned, and made a deal to purchase the equipment from him. The gym closure only lasted about one week. It was just enough time for Kirk to get equipment back into the gym and get the utilities turned on.





So, on May 5th, 1990, the Power Shop Gym opened. The name was later changed to Power Shop Fitness, in order to better describe the business and it’s members.

There were many members from the American Eagle gym who had just joined with yearly memberships when it closed its doors. So, to show the old members of American Eagle Gym that the Power Shop was here to stay, as well as to show good will, Kirk gave those customers a free year membership.

It was this good will, and the good customers of Power Shop Fitness, that has helped the business grow into the successful Fitness center that it is today. When the Power Shop started it only occupied one half of the building. Today, the gym encompasses the entire building. Power Shop Fitness has been able to be successful and grow, in a culture of unexpected gym closures, by never acquiring large amounts of debt. At Power Shop, we always keep the equipment and building up to date.

We look forward to many more years with our old and new members and we look forward to helping you meet your goals.


Selected powerlifting clips to honour my late father, Bobby Watts, who had not only the Bobby Watts Speed Shop, but also the AMERICAN EAGLE GYM: "A Symbol of Strength," in Plant City, Fla., during the 1980's. These clips, however, are from Deb's Gym, in neighbouring, Lakeland, FL, later on:
* Mirror 1: Bobby's Facebook "fan page"
* Mirror 2: Bobby's "personal" Facebook, which a friend made for him.
* Source video: The unabridged YouTube source video
* Wayback Archive: Wayback Machine archive of the above
TABLE of CONTENTS for Facebook vids:
1) Cover pic of a successful 635-lb. Rack Pull (the 1st of 4 that day).
2) Pull-ups: 4×(bodyweight + 50-lbs.).
3) Pull-ups: 2×(bodyweight + 70-lbs.).
4) The 635-lb. Rack Pull × 1 rep.
5) A 710-lb. YOKE LIFT
6) Credits

Screengrab of above quote (click to enlarge)
Power Shop current photo, where the American Eagle Gym was (click to enlarge)
AMERICAN EAGLE GYM: "A Symbol of Strength" PLANT CITY, FL., sweater, FRONT (click to enlarge)
AMERICAN EAGLE GYM: "A Symbol of Strength" PLANT CITY, FL., sweater, BACK (click to enlarge)

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OBITUARY:
Rest in Peace, dad

Bobby's LAST WILL and TESTAMENT: A few last words ** Link for PDF format **

Page 1 of 3 (click to enlarge)
Page 2 of 3 (click to enlarge)
Page 3 of 3 (click to enlarge)

Robert F. 'Bobby' Watts - 01/27/1935 - 05/03/2018
Remembering Bobby
Bobby Watts
An old business card
Storefront

LAKELAND, Fla. (Sat. 12 May 2018) - Robert Franklin Delano 'Bobby' Watts (aka Bobby Watts), 83, died Thursday, May 3, 2018. Bobby was born at Jackson Memorial Hospital, in Miami, FL on Sunday, Jan. 27, 1935.

With the exception of a brief stint in the Navy, Bobby spent his entire life in Florida, working for the railroad, owning the American Eagle gym in Plant City, and several auto parts stores. For 43 years, he was the very proud owner of the Bobby Watts Speed Shop. One of his first jobs was with “Big Daddy” Don Garlits, the 'King of Drag Racing.'

Over his entire life he never missed a day of work except when he was in the hospital.

An avid drag racer as a young man, and harmonica player in his later years, he found happiness in his racing and music, and strength from his Saviour Jesus Christ.

He is preceded in death by his parents, Loring M. Watts, Sr. and 'Mary' Iola Whitlock Watts Wood, his brother Loring Mitchell “Mickey” Watts, Jr,. and his sisters Jessie Mattair and Janie Barnett.

Bobby is survived by his wife, Anne Watts and his son, Gordon Watts.

A memorial service will be held at 2 pm on Sat., May 12, 2018, at the Fellowship Church Assembly of God, 4405 N. Galloway Rd, Lakeland.

In lieu of flowers, please follow Bobby's example and give to someone in need.

Religious Service Information:
Galloway Assembly of God
(At the intersection of Kathleen and Galloway roads -- MAP (zoom to street view) *** MAP (pan to wide view)
4405 N Galloway Rd.
Lakeland, FL 33810

For further information or to donate:

* GoFundMe: https://www.GoFundMe.com/bobby-watts-speed-shops-family

* PayPal: (To DONATE, click button below:)

* http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/theledger/obituary.aspx?pid=188972018

* https://www.facebook.com/BobbyWatts.SpeedShop (personal Facebook)

* https://www.Facebook.com/WattsBobbySpeedShop (Fan page)

* https://www.facebook.com/pages/Watts-Bobby-Speed-Shop/149395311770269

* https://www.facebook.com/149395311770269/reviews

* https://www.facebook.com/GordonWayneWatts

* To view guestbook *** To sign guestbook *** http://www.gentry-morrison.com

Thank you for stopping by
Contact: Gordon Wayne Watts
Editor-in-Chief, The Register

 * Gww1210@aol.com MAIN 
 * Gww12102002@yahoo.com Alt. 
(863) 688-9880 (main) --- 863-686-3411 Alt. --- 863-687-6141 Alt.

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 / Gordon Wayne Watts,
 / LAKELAND, Florida, U.S.A.,
   B.S., Biological and Chemical
   Sciences (double major with    honors, FSU)
   A.S., Electronics Technology
   (valedictorian, UEI)


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