After NASCAR drivers hang up their helmets, the ambitious ones may become crew chiefs. After that, it's possibly car/team ownership, but what about after that? Ray Evernham has done a little bit of everything in NASCAR from working as a consultant, to crew chief and car owner. Today, he's far from retirement, leveraging his success into an epic garage and museum collection.
Hidden in a Mooresville, North Carolina, industrial park sits a nondescript grey building: Ray Evernham Enterprises. From the street you'd never imagine hidden inside was a car collection as extensive as Evernham's. It appears to be any other NASCAR team's corporate environment, but beyond the "employees only" door opens a magical world of racing history. Inside are more than 20 historically significant race cars and several collector items, like Smokey Yunick's original lathe, and this is just the front room. But, "Everything in here is here for a reason," said Evernham.
Many of his cars were documented on his reality show, AmeriCarna. There, he and his team of mechanics discovered, researched, restored and raced vintage cars, from land speed record holders, circle track racers to former open-wheel board trackers. Luckily, most of the cars in the collection are runners. "We run the race cars; we run'd hard." said Evernham while laughing about the worn tires on a couple cars in the collection. His vintage Modified Stock Cars see regular track time, and even some of the former land speed cars have seen high speeds again. "When people come in here, I want them to be reminded of cool stories and for this area to evoke found memories," said Evernham. "This collection well, it's the history of my life."
You're looking at a 1967 Fairlane, well, it started that way. This Holman-Moody-built NASCAR cup car was originally constructed using a 1968 Torino body. It's been maintained and upkeep to its original glory, when driven by David Pearson, who won the 1968 Rebel 400 at Darlington in this car. According to Evernham, it's one of the most complete and authentic Holman-Moody cars left.
Red Dodge NASCAR Monster Cup Car
This car marked the triumphant return of Dodge to the big leagues of NASCAR, in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (then referred to as the Winston Cup Series), after a 25-year absence. It also marked the beginning of Evernham's career as a car owner, with Bill Elliot behind the wheel grabbing the pole at the car's first ever race, the 2001 Daytona 500. After Elliott and Casey Atwood drove the car, it was parked and maintained in this condition.
"Cut Out" With Headset (left)
You know you've made it when you have a cardboard cutout of yourself. This was when Evernham was Jeff Gordon's crew chief. The pair found success together, winning 47 races and three championships from 1995 to 1999.
Dragster on Wall
This front-engine dragster is a tribute to the late Evel Knievel, who Evernham and team had worked with shortly before his death. Now, restored with red, white and blue paint with stars and strips, the dragster was originally found being used as a sign in Tennessee. Built with exhausting tubing, it'll never be fit for actual track time. Instead its an ornament meant to invoke stories. A plastic Hemi finishes off the look. "When people leave this place I want them to have stories. Even if you know nothing of cars you'll think, 'man, they've got a dragster hanging on the wall!'"
American Graffiti 1958 Chevy
Evernham and team meticulously restored the original 1958 Chevrolet used in the movie American Graffiti. In the movie, it was claimed to have a 327ci with six Strombergs, which wasn't true for the set car. So Evernham sourced an early 327 (as the movie was set in '62, the first year 327), an intake manifold to hold six Strombergs, and the carburetors themselves.
Richie Evens Modified Pinto
Richie Evens was one of the most successful Modified stock car drivers in history and one of the first inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Here is a restored Pinto-bodied Modified car that Evernham watched race many times through the 1977 and 1978 seasons. Evens died in a crash in 1985.
A really cool piece of hot rodding history that doesn't have wheels is Smokey Yunick's original lathe. Yunick used the lathe from the '50s, until the '70s. Often times it traveled in his car hauler. In the '70s, Yunick used it as a form of payment. Ray purchased it from that second owner in 2016.