The Oscar Mayer Wienermobile visits the Ocracoke lighthouse
The Oscar Mayer Wienermobile visits the Ocracoke lighthouse. Photo: Trudy Austin

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By Connie Leinbach

Even on their day off, Taylor Lennox and Kayla Kawalec are an attraction wherever they go while driving the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile.

The two, who have driven the iconic vehicle all over the southeastern United States for the last year, arrived on the island yesterday to visit Kawalec’s family friends and attracted attention wherever they stopped on the island.

“We make a scene wherever we go,” Kawalec said while the two visited with Tyke and Cheri Ely, their children and several of the Ely’s friends.  “It takes us a half hour just to get gas.”

The two are part of six teams that drive Wienermobiles all year all over the United States.

“We visit a different city every day and a different state every week,” Kawalec said. “It’s an adventure.”

Taylor Lennox and Kayla Kawalec, Wienermobile “hotdoggers,” pose while the Wienermobile is at Tyke and Cheri Ely’s house on Friendly Ridge Road. Photo: C. Leinbach

It’s a one-year position—from June to June, Lennox said. The pair’s last day of this gig is June 5.

Lennox, of Philadelphia, Pa., explained that the company chose them out of 1,500 applicants.

The chosen 17 then go to “hot dog high school” at company headquarters in Madison, Wis., for two weeks where they learn all things hot dogs, such as:

  • The Wienermobile is 27 feet long and 11 feet high, but in hot dogs, it’s 60 hot dogs long, 24 hot dogs high and 18 hot dogs wide.
  • The vehicle, which drives like an RV, is 14,050 pounds, which equals 140,500 hot dogs.

Both women drive the vehicle, and while they don’t need commercial driver’s licenses, they are DOT compliant by keeping logs and taking frequent rests, Lennox said.

After their visit with the Elys, the pair returned to Nags Head and today are headed to Charlotte.

A stir arose on the island yesterday afternoon when the Wienermobile was spotted parked at the lifeguard beach.

“Everybody’s running out there to get a photo of it,” said Trudy Austin while shopping at the Variety Store.

Later, it was spotted at the lighthouse, and island visitor Nancy Tyler of Falls Church, Va., was there to snap photos.

Kayla Kawalec inside the Wienermobile. Photo: C. Leinbach

She had seen on Facebook that the mobile was on the island.

“I drove around looking for it, but gave up and was at the Variety Store,” she said. “Then I saw it barreling down highway 12. There were bikes and cars and golf carts following it like the Pied Piper.”

So, Tyler followed, too.

“I didn’t expect to come to Ocracoke and see one of my bucket list items,” she said about the surprise.

Kawalec said a lot of fans tell them the Wienermobile is on their “bucket list” of things to do or see.

The Wienermobile has been around since 1936, Kawalec said. “It’s something everyone has a memory of. Everyone loves the Wienermobile.”

To see where the Wienermobiles are in the country, click here.

The Wienermobile attracts a crowd at the Ely residence. Emilie Burrus with her son, Asher, is in the foreground. Taylor Lennox is in front of her. The license plates of all six Wienermobiles are different ‘so that you know which one you saw,’ said Kayla Kawalec. Photo: C. Leinbach
The Wienermobile on Lighthouse Road. Basically an RV, Taylor Lennox, one of the drivers, called “hotdoggers,” said the vehicle can hold 11,000 wiener whistles.
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