- The first Wienermobile Run will take place throughout the country this summer.
- The rally will feature six teams of Wienermobiles competing against each in contests suggested by fans on social media sites.
- Wienermobiles have gone through several redesigns since their introduction in 1936.
MADISON, Wisconsin — The Wienermobile Run, the first road rally featuring the iconic Oscar Mayer promotional vehicles, will be steered by social media.
Six Wienermobiles, piloted by teams of "Hotdoggers," will tour the country this summer trying to rack up points and become the Wienermobile Run Champion. Where they go and how they accumulate points will be determined, in part, by fans who participate on social media sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Fans can join one of the teams — #HellOnBuns, #SpeedyWiener, #Autobuhn, #DriftDog, #BornToBun and #Bunderstruck — on WeinermobileRun.com. Once registered, they receive a complimentary bumper sticker and can begin participating in the rally by posting photos, comments, trash talk and ideas for team challenges.
Fans can suggest scavenger hunts and other fun competitions, pranks and locations for appearances. According to the site, "the more detailed and creative your challenge is the more likely it will be to get picked." Of course it also points out, "challenges that are unlawful/illegal or pose a risk to the Hotdoggers or Wienermobile vehicles will not be chosen."
The contest ends on the last day of summer, with the winning team determined by how successfully it completes the challenges, as well as by the number of comments and photos posted for it on social media sites. Fans of that team will receive a free personalized T-shirt and will be registered to win a personal visit from the winning Wienermobile itself.
The idea for the Wienermobile was cooked up in 1936 when the nephew of company founder Oscar Mayer envisioned a 13-foot-long motorized hot dog that could be driven through the streets of Chicago to promote the company's products. The first version was built by the General Body Company, had center and rear open cockpits and cost $5,000 to build.
Due to wartime fuel rationing, Wienermobiles didn't roll for several years in the 1940s, but they made a triumphant return in the '50s, as five new models, constructed by the Gerstenslager Company of Wooster, Ohio, began touring the streets of America. These were 22 feet long, built on Dodge truck chassis and were the first Wienermobiles to feature sound systems and sunroofs.
Other versions were built in the '60s and '70s before the advertising icon was foolishly retired in 1977. But following a public outcry, with cards and letters pouring in from all over the country, the Wienermobile was revived in 1988, bigger and better than ever. Those models were 23 feet long, made of fiberglass and equipped with refrigerators, microwave ovens and stereo systems that played 21 different versions of "Oh, I wish I were an Oscar Mayer Wiener."
More advanced iterations came about in 1995, 2000 and 2004, featuring such innovations as gullwing doors, voice-activated GPS, audio-visual centers with wireless microphones and hot-dog shaped dashboards. In 2008, Prototype Source built a 15-foot-long Wienermobile on a Mini Cooper S chassis, but while it may be cute, to real fans this little cocktail wiener just can't cut the mustard.
Edmunds says: Frankly, we relish the idea of a Wienermobile Run.