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Barbara Terry interview with Bill Goldberg

Bill Goldberg has an interesting background. He is a former NFL player, former WWE Heavyweight Champ, is a car aficionado and a humanitarian. Like Hulk Hogan, Bill Goldberg was one of the biggest phenomenons to hit the professional wrestling world. Unlike Hogan, he did it from the first day he stepped into the ring, starting a career hotter than any pro wrestler before or since he entered the squared circle. Goldberg, as he was known in the ring, catapulted to unparalleled success. He’s a former two-time WWE Champion and was the first person ever to hold the WCW and WWE Heavyweight Championship at the same time. Since then, he has established an acting career and has hosted a television show about vehicles called “,Bull Bun” on Speed TV. He does a tremendous amount of charity work, and is a true “car” guy.

What can you tell me about your first car?

It was in a lot better shape when I got it than when I got rid of it. It was a 1976 Pontiac Trans Am. It wasn’t exactly what I wanted, but it was a nice first car, for sure. I think that started the addiction. My family has an affinity for automobiles.

How old were you when you got the Trans Am?

Sixteen. My dad said, ‘Get a 3.0 (GPA) and a job, and I’ll get you a car.’ I had a 2.9 and I got a job at McDonald’s, so he got me a car.

What exactly were you doing at McDonald’s?

Before I got fired, I was flipping food.

Why did you get fired? (LAUGHTER)

Because I was eating all of it. It was ridiculous to me that they had a timer on it, and after five minutes, they would throw it all away. It was still good – at least for half an hour.

And, back then, our parents made us clean our plates. That was the rule of thumb.

That wasn’t necessarily what I was thinking about. I was thinking, ‘Man, they’re going to throw away this quarter-pounder with cheese. I’m eating it.’ Or my buddy or dog could eat it.

Is there a car that you bought as a gift to yourself after your wrestling career took off?

Yeah, pretty much every one that I’ve bought since I started wrestling.

Does one of the first ones stick out in your memory more than the others?

I’d say the most memorable experience that could be categorized as rewarding myself for my wrestling duties came when I was wrestling in Japan. I was simultaneously on the phone with a guy named Bob Johnson, who got me involved in the car business. He was buying me vehicles at the Barrett-Jackson Auto Auction in Scottsdale and, at that time, I bought that Boss 29, that Lawman Mustang, I bought a ’70 Z28 Trans Am and a ’68 Chevy Camaro. I did that to reward myself for going over and enduring the business of wrestling in Japan. As a matter of fact, it’s a really funny story, when I got frustrated with the business dealings overin Japan-my agent was with me-he would look at me and say one word. It was Yenko. It would totally change my demeanor and make it bearable.

Why Yenko?

Because I knew the money I was making over there would allow me, when I got home, to drive one of the three grotto blue RS/SS Yenko Camaras.

So it was kind of a focal point or motivation for you, then?

I’d say, at that point, darlin,’ that was a mild understate­ment.

What do you drive now? What do you use as a daily driver?

A ’95 S600 Mercedes and a ’99 Dodge 2500 Ram truck. I split my time between those.

Tell me about this one-of-a-kind car that is snuggled in your garage.

The story begins with a guy named Al Extrand. If you want the story straight from my mouth, I’ll tell you, but you can also go to SuperBoss.com, which is a Web site about the best Mustangs on the planet. Basically, a drag racer named Al Extrand, who was a corporate lawyer for Chrysler, developed this idea that he wanted to branch out and make sure his legacy was not defined by how fast he could travel a quarter-mile. He was tired of seeing ser­vicemen come back from the war to spend $3,500 on a Hemi, only to wrap it around a tree a few weeks later and die. He wanted to teach guys to drive. He also, at the same time, wanted to boost the morale of the troops overseas.

I don’t know the exact details, but Chrysler didn’t want to extend the money to pay for the program, so he obviously quit Chrysler and went to Ford. Ford did the tour and the tour involved two Boss 29s and a V* Super Boss. They were blown and injected cars with parachutes, roll bar and drag slips. Radiator and batteries were relocated in the truck. Other than that, they were pretty stock. They had paint schemes – the two Super Bosses were red, white and blue as a U.S. tribute. And they set up six or eight cars, actually with driving courses, on the bases and they would teach these guys to drive, to an extent. They also got to drive the Bosses right outside the VA hospitals and down the tarmac of an aircraft carrier. I know the USS Coral Sea, for sure, because I have pic­tures of it. It boosted the morale of the troops to see a red, white and blue Mustang do a 190-mile-an-hour quarter-mile in eightseconds. There’s something about that that gets the hair standing upon your arms and makes you forget what’s going on around you, maybe.

The big story behind the two Super Bosses is, one got left in the States while one was delivered to the Coral Sea. They proceeded to drop a cargo container on top of it and pushed it overboard, so there was only one left. The General asked Extrand where it was and he sent a C-130 to the States to pick it up and bring it back. Fortunately, they didn’t drop a cargo container on it or it wouldn’t be in my garage. It’s got 1,200 to 1,400 horsepower, 760 miles on it – that’s about it. I’ve got all the documentation on it, original pamphlets that were handed out at the events in Vietnam – unbeliev­able the documentation I have on it. It’s cool, and Al was a great guy. Al and I met, I took it to the Carlyle Ford show.

Another great story. There was this kid. He was taken to see this car when he was 10, in Vietnam. He’s Vietnamese. So, at 12, his parents move to the States, and he gets into the auto industry and goes on to design the new generation Mustang. I reunited the car with Mr. Extrand and the kid, who was now a man, with the car. The last time he saw it he was 10. Unfortunately, Mr. Extrand died on May the 10th, this year. Ironically, I gave the car to my son and my son was actually born on May the 10th.

Oh, wow. How incredible. I thought to myself what the odds might be.

Yeah. I think it was all part of the car and Mr. Extrand’s journey. He was very passionate about it and it’s a great cause. I’m going to use that to its fullest, to get kids involved in automobiles by taking it to some events or just by carrying on its history of patriotism.

It’s amazing how some cars…there are certain car stories that bring people together. And it’s amazing how complex they can be.

Yeah, well, look at the car we just built for the Darrell Gwynn Foundation that got $681,000 at Barrett- Jackson Auto Auction.

That is amazing. Bill. What can you tell me about that?

It was an honor to be able to spearhead the project. I’ve been going through Barrett-Jackson for years. They’re great people over there; they’ve always taken great care of me. They provide the venue, they provide car guys like myself to not only view, purchase and sell the most wonderful cars on the planet, but us car guys can hook up a couple times a year – like a reunion – or once a year, in my case, and wrap our minds around some cool stuff. Barrett-Jackson attracts some cool people. Darrell Gwynn, I met, my first time, at Barrett- Jackson. He was auctioning off a motor, at the time, and the benefits went to the Darrell Gwynn Foundation. I’ve gotten to know him and the founda­tion and, one year, Tony Stewart and I were on stage, and I met a guy and his kids. At the end of the day, he ended up giving me a 1970 Plymouth Satellite. He and I decided to turn it into a charity car because I knew that I could make a few phone calls and I knew a few guys like me in the automotive world that wanted to make a dif­ference. Within two weeks, I assembled a team of guys that ultimately raised a shitload of money for charity in one day. I can honestly say that we probably broke a record that day, from a few guys getting together with some knowledge and ideas about cars. It was for the Darrell Gwynn Foundation, but, at the end of the day, it was for the kids that could and do benefit from the foundation. And to have Richard Petty drive the damned thing onstage was incredible.

It must have been an incredible moment.

Yeah. It was amazing until Richard Petty took his cowboy hat off and put it on my head. But it was incredible. It was awesome. Guys were bidding some serious money. It was a special group of guys working together for a special pur­pose. It was awesome.

What type of music do you listen to when you drive?

I try not to listen to any music unless I’m in my Mercedes because I want to listen to the engine.

Spoken like a true car guy.

It’s not original, but it’s the truth, so…

At any time in your career, did you ever look at another athlete’s choice of car and go, ‘You know, I have to get me one of those.’

Yeah, absolutely. Kevin Greene had a one-on-one copper- ish color Charger Daytona, 1970. That car was awesome. I wanted that car so bad, I wanted it when I saw it. I’d say, ‘That’s the only one.’ I haven’t seen too many guys driving the McLaren FI. That’s the only other one I really want.

Have you had any bad accidents that stick out in your mind?

Nope. I only had one accident, in the snow when a woman’s SUV went out of control. I was driving a 1985 Mustang 5.0, which is very small, so, other than that, no. Did the Mustang make it?

No, it was totaled.

Sad, yeah. Do you get pulled over much?

No. I do so much stuff for the Armed Forces, military, Fire Department and Police Department, I kind of keep that in mind when I’m driving down the road, maybe a mile or two over the speed limit.

What do you think the fastest you’ve been in a car would be?

Shoot… probably 180.

Nice. What kind of car was that in?

It was a…if I tell you, I’d give it away as to where I drove it.

If you want to keep it a mystery, you can.

No, it’s a toss-up between my 2001 twin turbo Porsche or my ’92 turbo Porsche.

What’s your favorite color combination with a car?

That’s easy – black on black. I have 12 vehicles that are black.

Well, there’s nothing prettier than a cleaned up black car, and nothing uglier than a dirty one.

Nothing harder to keep clean, either.

Do you have your eyes on any particular vehicle that you want to buy right now?

A 1994 McLaren FI. It’s not a reality, considering they are so few and far between and they’re worth about a million and a half or so. Think I might wait a bit.

What’s your wife think about your choice of cars?

She loves them. She wishes I wouldn’t get them so big because she’s tiny. She might like more nimble cars. She can drive her ass off, and she likes to drive as much or more than me. She’s a better driver, for sure. She’s fun to watch.

What kind of motorcycles do you have?

A Confederate Hellcat I gave to my wife, so I do not know if I can consider that mine anymore. A couple West Coast choppers.

How many cars do you think that have you owned throughout your life?

Hmm…60?

How many do you have now?

Twenty-two, I think…no, 20.1 just got rid of two. I might have a couple floating around somewhere. I have 20 cars.

Do you have any favorite road trips that you like to take?

I don’t like to drive these cars very far. My road trips on

Bull Run are far and I’m in an RV.

How often do you start all your cars. Remember, you’re talking to a mechanic.

Shoot…not nearly enough. Once a month, maybe.

No, that’s not nearly enough.

Some of them have been sitting here for six months, some for one month. A Jaguar I bought from my broth­er’s best friend for $12…l got it two years ago as a restoration and it’s been sitting here two years and it’s never been started. I have a couple that aren’t started. I should. If you want to, find some time for me or have someone for free that could come over and start them.

How often do you change the oil in them, even though you’re not driving them 3,000 miles?

Some are just drained, they’re not on blocks. Some of them just aren’t going to be driven, period; they’re just for show purposes. I drive the Lawman and the oil is changed in that once every six months. It seats three people, so I don’t drive it much. There are so many cars here. Unless I had people to watch the estate and work every day, I don’t have the time.

I do have to say, it was nice meeting you and not being greeted by an entourage of assistants.

Life’s too short to have to spend your time with people you have to work with 24 hours a day. I like doing car work, yard work, sitting with my kid. Those are times you can’t get back. I believe I’ve worked hard enough to spend my time with my wife, my son, my animals, my vehicles. I have to take advantage of my time. When it comes to cars, they need maintenance. I’ve just fallen behind.

I’m just giving you a hard time. Do you have anything in the works right now, as far as a charitable cause, to do with cars?

I always do. Be specific. Am I building one to give for charity? I put up a rally to go to Camp Pendleton. The guys at SuperBird are giving the car back next year. I’m going to be standing onstage next year trying to get another $600,000 or $700,000 for the same car we sold last week. I know Alice Cooperand I are building a car for next year, and part of that will go to charity,

I found Bill Goldberg to be one of the toughest looking men on the outside, but a pure gentleman on the inside. When we pulled up to his house the day of the interview and photo shoot, I was in amazement of his extensive collection of clas­sic and one-of-a-kind automobiles. This interview was a blast.

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