Follow A Dream Top Alcohol Funny Car owner Jay Blake has had a lot of free time lately. His team has been sidelined due to the coronavirus pandemic and being without a primary sponsor.
During his free time, he recently made a bench for the New England Dragway Hall of Fame in Epping, New Hampshire. Blake — who is blind following an accident — did the majority of the work on his own.
The idea came about when his brother Jim Blake suggested that he make a bench for the Hall of Fame. Jim is the President of the Orientals Hot Rod Club that maintains the Hall of Fame.
“I didn’t work on it all the time,” Blake said. “I worked on it over time. The wood part of it didn’t take very long, because surprisingly, being blind, there are easy ways to measure. I have a tool called a click rule. That’s one of my favorite measuring tools. It’s six inches long and every click is a 16th of an inch. It’s very easy to measure with. I also have a braille tape measure. I have all kinds of measuring things that work for the blind.”
Blake lost his sight in 1997 following a forklift accident. After his accident, he attended the Carroll Center for the Blind in Newton, Mass.
While there, he was able to attend a woodshop and work with tools that helped him make the bench. He did the majority of the work on his own.
He did need to get some assistance, as one person welded the connecting rods to the bench. Also, another person bored out some holes.
“This all wouldn’t be possible without the Carroll Center for the Blind,” Blake said. “It’s a facility that I went to after my accident and learn how to live blind. They had a woodshop there and I worked with tools there — and it showed me how to work with them without my sight. I built this bench and it was outside my house. It rotted away over time. My daughter and I eventually rebuilt it the bench.
“The new bench that my daughter and I worked on was in my shop and my brother came down to the shop one day. He said, ‘Oh wow, you should build a bench for the New England Dragway Hall of Fame. We need a bench.’ Seeing that we’re not racing and we don’t have a primary sponsor at the moment, I’m looking for things to do, as I don’t do well doing nothing. I decided I would go ahead and build a bench for them. I appreciated being asked. The original plan was just to build a bench. But I wanted to do something special with it. When you enter into the Hall of Fame, you get a plaque with connecting rods. Instead of using 45’s under the bench, I was going to use connecting rods to tie it into the Hall of Fame. I also then thought about adding armrests from connecting rods.”
The bench is going to be outside of the Hall of Fame for years to come.
“This is going to be outside for the foreseeable future,” Blake said. “It’s made out of pressure-treated lumber, then I stained it. Rachel, who works in the office, picked out the color of the stain.”
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