Be on the lookout! Sizzlin’ Shelby and her copilot Corndog Clara are rolling through the Triangle this week in the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile on a coast-to-coast “weenie roast,” serving smiles to everyone they “meat.” In honor of National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, the dynamic duo will be collecting donations for the Alzheimer’s Association of Raleigh in exchange for limited-edition Wienermobile swag.
We spoke with Sizzlin’ Shelby and Corndog Clara to learn more about their lives on the road as “hotdoggers” in an exclusive, hard-hitting interview that we’re sure you will relish (sorry, not sorry).
My name is Shelby Lewis, but when I’m on the Hotdog Highways, I am known as Sizzlin’ Shelby! I have been driving the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile with my copilot Corndog Clara since June of this year. She is originally from Oregon, and I grew up in Arizona. They say that in order to get this job, you have to “cut the mustard,” but at the end of the day we are lucky dogs. Thousands of people apply for this opportunity every year, and they only select 12 of us to be Hotdoggers.
Tell me more about your copilot, Corndog Clara!
Corndog Clara and I affectionately refer to each other as “Weenie Wives.” We started this adventure as strangers, and now we practically do everything together! We are opposites in almost every way, which makes us a much stronger team. She is a brilliant graphic designer with a love for the outdoors. She is always finding somewhere new to explore, and it is her intention to take the Wienermobile to as many state and national parks as possible!
Share some details about the Wienermobile!
The Wienermobile is an American icon that has been around since 1936. Today, it stands 11 feet tall and 27 feet long, which is about 24 hotdogs tall and 60 hotdogs long! It also weighs the same as 140,500 hotdogs! Our Wienermobile (there are six in the program) is brand frankin’ new and currently has about 7,000 miles on it.
Is it hard to drive?
People ask us all the time if it’s like driving a bus or an RV, and while I have no experience driving either, I can say it’s a lot like driving a giant hotdog. The trickiest part is usually finding a parking spot.
When did you set out on your coast-to-coast tour, and where have you been so far?
A Hotdogger year runs from June to June the following year. Twelve drivers are divided into six teams that primarily cover a particular region of the US. Clara and I are the Southeast team, so we spend a lot of time in Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, and the Carolinas, but so far we have been to about 14 states.
What do you love about driving the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile?
Every day driving the Wienermobile is an adventure. All the people we “meat” and places we visit have their own stories to tell. We get to see the country through the windshield of an American icon. It sparks smiles everywhere it goes, and it’s a privilege to be a part of that. We love seeing it brighten people’s days.
Tell us more about your partnership with the Alzheimer’s Association of Raleigh!
For the week of November 8-14, we will be raising money for the Alzheimer’s Association in Raleigh. In exchange for donations, Clara has designed some limited-edition Wienermobile T-shirts and stickers! This cause means so much to me because when I was around 12 years old, my father was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease. He battled the disease for seven years until passing away in 2018. It means the world that we have the ability to give back in this way and help support families that are going through the same thing.
Funniest or most heartwarming story you’ve had as the driver so far?
Part of the magic of this job is creating memories like these on the daily. One that comes to mind happened just a few weeks ago. We were at a private event where college students were competing in hotdog games, and we gave one of the winners an Oscar Mayer hat and T-shirt. He knew we were going to be in the homecoming parade the next day and jokingly said he would show up and walk alongside us in his new gear. We laughed it off and forgot about it until he showed up the next morning bright and early ready go. “The worst you could say is no,” he said, so we put him in a hotdog costume and let him sit “shotbun” for the parade. His friends were all cheering him on, and he told us that it would be a story he’d tell his grandkids someday.