Dale Earnhardt Jr. Brings Trio of "Tribute" Cars to Food Lion AutoFair
Concord, N.C. (Sept. 3, 2007) – Like many of his peers, NASCAR superstar Dale Earnhardt Jr. is inspired by the competitors who came before him.
The four-time winner of NASCAR NEXTEL Cup racing’s most-popular-driver award will commemorate past racing greats by displaying three super-high-performance Chevrolets—two Camaros and a Corvette—during the Sept. 13-16 Food Lion AutoFair at Lowe’s Motor Speedway.
The yellow Corvette GT-R Earnhardt Jr. will have on display could easily be mistaken for the actual C5-R that the Earnhardt father-and-son team drove to a second-place finish in the 2001 Rolex 24 at Daytona. It is, however, one of two near-identical replicas Chevrolet built for the Earnhardts to commemorate their performance in the prestigious road racing event. The street-legal Corvette has a 450-horsepower, 346-cubic-inch LS6 V-8 engine and rides on Forgeline alloy wheels with Michelin rubber.
Earnhardt Jr.’s 1973 Camaro Z-28 was built as a modern homage to the SCCA Trans-Am racers of the early 1970s, a period many consider the high-watermark of American road racing. In 1970, every American automaker campaigned factory-backed muscle cars in the Trans-Am series. Chevrolet’s Camaro Z-28, Ford’s Mustang Boss 302 and AMC’s Javelin—all with V-8 engines nudging against the 305-cubic-inch displacement limit—were the fiercest competitors. Drivers such as Mark Donohue, Jerry Titus, Dan Gurney, Parnelli Jones and George Follmer became legends with these brutally fast machines.
While commemorating the past, Earnhardt Jr.’s ‘73 Camaro is full of modern, high-tech performance components. The engine is a 440-horsepower, carbureted LS2 Corvette V-8 displacing 364 cubic inches, or 59 too many for the early 1970’s Trans-Am rulebook. Six-piston calipers and huge ventilated disk brakes sit at the four corners, only partially hidden by 19-inch alloy Fikse wheels and low-profile Michelin radials. The original Trans-Am muscle cars would have shared this Z-28’s full roll cage and fuel cell, but had to get along without the modern car’s Recaro seats and concealed stereo equipment.
The 2002 Camaro Earnhardt Jr. will show at Food Lion AutoFair is one of only 50 produced by Berger Chevrolet and GMMG Inc. as a tribute to drag racer Dick Harrell.
Harrell died during a crash in 1971, but not before bringing national attention to drag racing and especially extended-wheelbase Funny Cars. He was known as “Mr. Chevrolet” because he campaigned the company’s cars privately at a time when Mopar drivers had full factory support. Harrell was a standout in the racing world because he ran several successful businesses, all related to competition.
One of his automotive sidelines was modifying Camaros, Chevelles, and Novas into drag racers that could be sold through the Chevrolet dealer network. Such transformations always began with the installation of a 427-cubic-inch big-block V-8 engine, which is why each 2002 Dick Harrell Edition Camaro has a 427-cubic-inch, Corvette racing V-8 that produces 630 horsepower.
The limited-edition treatment includes competition body panels that make the Camaro wider, and a raised carbon fiber hood that gleefully announces the powerplant that lies beneath. Massive Goodyear radials sit on 18-inch Fikse alloy rims. Earnhardt special-ordered the 2002 in his trademark Gossamer Orange paint and requested a wide, non-factory black stripe. According to its owner, the Camaro accelerates from zero to 60 mph in 3.8 seconds and covers the quarter-mile in 11.5 seconds.
Other attractions scheduled for the Sept. 13-16 Food Lion AutoFair include Bumblebee and Ironhide from the hit movie “Transformers,” TV host John Walsh’s unique amphibious vehicle; a pair of awesome Audis; Dale Earnhardt’s No. 3 “pass in the grass” Chevrolet from 1987; and world-class hot rods from Watty’s Fabrications.
Food Lion AutoFair is the world’s largest automotive extravaganza. Attracting over 120,000 visitors, the four-day event includes a car show featuring various makes and models from more than 50 clubs; more than 7,000 vendor spaces that offer a plethora of automotive parts and memorabilia; and a collector car auction conducted by Tom Mack. A car corral, which completely circles the 1.5-mile superspeedway, features nearly 1,500 vehicles available for sale or trade.
Hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday through Saturday, and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday. Tickets are $10 for adults. Children under 12 are admitted free when accompanied by an adult. Parking for the event is $5. For information, contact the speedway events department at (704) 455-3205 or visit www.charlottemotorspeedway.com.