Pro Modified legend Bill Kuhlmann, who was the first racer to eclipse the 200 MPH barrier in a doorslammer at Darlington back in 1987, suffered a devastating loss of his race shop in rural Falls County, Mo. on Sunday night after a large explosion and ensuing fire rocked the entire structure. Lost in the explosion was Kuhlmann’s famed barrier-breaking 1986 Camaro that he was in the process of restoring to its original condition.
Firefighters with the Perry Rural Fire Department were called to the scene at 22910 Route J, owned by Kuhlmann, at 9:45 p.m., following reports of the explosion that was reportedly heard for miles. Firefighters found the building fully engulfed in flames upon their arrival, and several subsequent explosions were driven by the presence of welding and propane tanks inside the building. The fire was contained by midnight, an thus far, a cause has not been determined.
“It was one of the biggest fires we’ve had in two years,” Ragland said. “A lot of gas, a lot of explosions.”
“I was at the house and heard the loudest explosion I ever heard before, because we get sonic booms all the time around here. I stepped outside to see if I could see an airplane in the sky and when I looked to my left, an eighth mile from the house, the whole area was orange with flames a hundred feet high,” Kuhlmann said. “I told Vicki, my wife to call 911. The shop has exploded.”
Kuhlmann owned the shop that’s situated down the road from his home, across from Ray Behrens Recreational Area and Campground on Mark Twain Lake. No one was hurt in the explosion or fire, but the building has been deemed a total loss.
“It’s a lifetime of tools and equipment and machines and historical race cars,” Kuhlmann said. “This is really a kick in the gut,” Kuhlmann said.
(Video courtesy ConnectTriStates.com)