Born Barbara Frances Weisse on August 29, 1927, Barbara’s story becomes particularly interesting to members of this forum when, in 1950, she attended a hill climb at Mt. Equinox, VT at the suggestion of her friends Peggy and Phil Cade (Phil owned and raced both a Maserati V8Ri as well as a 250F.) It was at this event that she was introduced to George Weaver, himself driving his own V8Ri, the famous #4504 car know as Poison ‘Lil. Smitten with the Maserati though initially less impressed with the oil covered Weaver, Barbara was later fond of saying she fell in love with the car first and George second. They were married within a year and took their honeymoon in France as members of the Cunningham Equipe at the 1951 Le Mans 24 Hours.
Barbara was George’s partner in many adventures during the formative years of the SCCA, doing everything from pit crewing to tow car driving at events throughout the Northeast. It was at these races–the majority being held on public roads–that a few competitors became increasingly concerned with the safety of both the drivers and the spectators. As incidents and accidents increased in both regularity and seriousness, George, Briggs Cunningham, and a few others started to seriously discuss the need for a permanent and dedicated road racing facility. The Weavers located a site in Thompson, CT that would allow them to purchase land to build on, as well as take advantage of leasing access to an existing half-mile oval track. With a short-term loan from Cunningham, they created a track from practically nothing, and were able to open in time for an SCCA Prelims race in August of 1952. The instant success of the first few events allowed the Cunningham loan to be paid off in-full while the Weavers continued to make improvements to the facilities and layout.
The Weavers would go on to run the track in various configurations through 1967 at which point (unsuccessful) negotiations with other landowners made it impossible for the track to carry on in the manner in which it was originally intended to function. Throughout the track’s history, Barbara played organizer, scorer, and host to the sport’s stars and lesser-knowns alike. Visitor and racers included Fangio, Shelby, George Constantine, Jackie Cooper and Joan Fontaine, Bob Holbert, Bob Grossman, the entire Cunningham team, Chuck Daigh, Lance Reventlow, and Walter Cronkite. She counted among her friends René Dreyfus, Charles Addams, and many others.
Though never a competitor herself, she loved cars, with her list of daily drivers over the years including an XK120 Jaguar and the famed ex-Cunningham Cadillac-Healy “Swamp Buggy” which she drove sans weather equipment in winter conditions in Boston. The license plate on her car has for decades been “SCCA”. I was at the Saratoga Auto Museum with her shortly after she loaned Poison ‘Lil to them when she opened the trunk of said car to show me something. On top of her car having a plate on it that was the envy of every sports car driver in Connecticut, she was more than likely the only septuagenarian driving around with unmachined Pre-War Maserati cylinder cases in the back of her Toyota. Her enthusiasm wasn’t limited to cars. My father had told me a story he read in a local paper about George buzzing a local town in an airplane once and when I asked Mrs. Weaver about it she said “Oh no, George never knew how to fly…I DID!”
In the years following the track’s closing, she returned to her roots as a librarian in Thompson, and became active in the local historical society. Not content to sit back and relax in her later years, Barbara would eventually become the Chief Information Officer of the state of Rhode Island while at the same time focusing efforts on preserving the history of Thompson as well as her husband. She was greatly concerned with proper archiving, assisting research, and the dissemination of information to people wanting to know more about that era of the sport. Following George’s death, she helped writers and researchers with all manner of information on topics ranging from Alfas to Millers; her contributions (both credited and uncredited) can be seen and read in many books and publications.
Barbara was disinterested in a wake or a memorial service, preferring instead that people get together to celebrate her life. Her daughter Valerie and her family will be hosting just such an event on January 15th at the Inn at Woodstock Hill in Woodstock, CT from 1pm to 5pm.
Barbara, shown at an SCCA event held on a frozen lake in
Franconia Notch, NH.
Edited by Cris, 02 January 2011 - 23:35.