Folks with a passion for cars can tell you about their dream vehicles — from the different years, models, makes, and unique characteristics they each share.
As a NASCAR driver with a long career, it’s no secret I have my preferences when it comes to what I drive. When Ally asked if I would talk about what I have parked in the garage, I was only too happy to share some stories about my car collection.
And while I wouldn’t call myself a “car guy,” I’m pretty proud of what I have in the garage for days when I’m not on the track.
Racing Vehicles From Younger Days
I started my career in off-road racing in the 1990s across the Mickey Thompson Entertainment Group (MTEG), Short Course Off-Road Association (SODA), and the Southern California Off-Road Enthusiasts (SCORE) series. I’ve actually found many of the vehicles from my all-terrain racer beginnings — including the super-light, off-road buggy I raced and the trophy truck from the SCORE Desert Series!
The frames and vehicles live on in the off-road industry long after they’re retired from racing. So, they might look like something else, but the history is in its bones. I’ve been able to make modifications to get them back to the way they were when I was behind the wheel.
Amazingly, some of these vehicles are still active. My short course truck and stadium off-road truck both remain in race rotation. But I do hope to one day add at least one of them to my collection.
Old, but Serious Style
My wife Chani and I have a thing for old-school flair. For instance, for my 30th birthday, I was gifted a vintage vehicle that’s chopped and channeled. (That’s car lingo: Chopping lowers the overall roofline and channeling effectively brings the entire body of the car closer to the ground.) And of course, it’s not complete without the fuzzy dice hanging from the mirror. Classic!
I also have an early ’50s Chevy Silverado truck that I like to drive around town, as well as a 1948 woodie wagon that my family and I will take out to grab dinner and ice cream.
Chani’s vehicles are a celebration of her childhood. She grew up riding in her mom’s car (which was from 1959), so, when she found a matching one in powder blue, she knew she had to buy it. We like to drive around in that together from time to time and reminisce.
Her retro collection also includes an old-school executive style car that I have to say is kind of like driving your sofa down the street.
And One for Those Who Are No Longer With Us
One final piece in my collection has a bit of a backstory. It’s a sports car from the late ’60s that is fully race-equipped — honestly, I think it’s a work of art. So much so, I’m afraid to drive it!
Back to the story, though. I purchased an engine in memory of Randy Dorton — one of my fellow Hendrick Motorsports race team members who died in 2004 in a plane crash involving several team members.
So, I had this awesome racing engine, and I decided to install it in one of my vehicles, thinking that a standard driveline system would work just fine, but here’s the hilarity that followed at the Charlotte drag strip:
During my first pass, the car went pretty fast and felt great. So, on the next run, I pushed the vehicle a little harder. The sheer force of my acceleration ripped the axle, wheels, tires, driveshaft, and everything else out of the car’s back! I just sat there in front of a few hundred Hendrick employees who were laughing, even while they couldn’t believe their eyes.
Cars That Invoke a Feeling
I’m partial to vehicles that tell a story or trigger an emotion. So, of course, the heart of my collection centers around the cars I’ve raced. I have to maintain that I’m not a “car guy” — I didn’t grow up as a kid with posters of the Corvette, Camaro, or other sweet rides. So, while I have a great deal of respect for old cars, my true passion is with race cars and the cars that I grew up driving.
What I love most about cars is that they, along with a great soundtrack, can take my mind to a different place and time. There’s nothing better than driving an old car, putting on some rock ‘n’ roll (or traveling music as my parents called it) and enjoying flashbacks, to traveling around the country with my folks.