by Trevor Bladon - Wild About Cars Staff
The weather in the days leading up to the inaugural Americarna IGNITE car show was foreboding; cold, overcast, heavy rain. The sun rose on the Saturday after Thanksgiving through a clear Carolina blue sky. Cars were already trickling in through the gates of the Ingersoll Rand campus in Davidson, NC as the sun was clearing treetops. This quickly grew to a steady stream of cars and trailers in the early morning. Organizers were hoping 200-250 brave souls would show up to enjoy a fun family outing in support of a worthy cause. They had nothing to worry about, as it turned out!
Ray Evernham needs no introduction to NASCAR fans, nor to many car lovers. From working as crew chief on Jeff Gordon’s team, to NASCAR team owner, to ESPN commentator and car restorer, Ray has a passion for cars and car people. His upcoming show on Velocity, Americarna, will capture the essence of his unique and inquisitive mind. The Americarna Live Charity Car Show was organized to support the new IGNITE Center in Davidson, NC.
The day-long show featured live music by local bands, family entertainment, a silent auction, great food and, most important, a broad selection of amazing cars. Some of Ray’s NASCAR racing friends brought cars from their personal collections, Rick Hendrick had a selection of his cars, and many cars from Ray’s personal collection were on site. Plus, more than 300 people brought their own cars to the show!
Ingersoll Rand hosted the event and they had several displays of their automotive tools and air handling technologies. Their hauler that attends NASCAR races was also nearby. Ingersoll Rand and MSC Industrial Supply were generous major sponsors. Hendrick NorthLake Luxury Auto Mall, the Ryan Newman Foundation and Smoke Racing were other major sponsors.
Racers’ personal cars were an eclectic, but exciting, collection - they included: Dale Earnhardt Junior’s 1977 Olds 442, Tony Stewart’s 1956 custom Chevy pickup, Jimmie Johnson’s 1967 Camaro, the 2013 World of Outlaws Championship sprint car owned by Kasey Kahne, Rusty Wallace’s 78 Corvette, Jeff Gordon’s 2013 Corvette ZR1, and Rick Hendrick’s 1970 Chevelle SS, Dale Earnhardt Junior’s 1977 Olds Cutlass 442, Tony Stewart’s 1956 custom Chevy pickup, Jimmie Johnson’s 1967 Camaro, the 2013 World of Outlaws Championship sprint car owned by Kasey Kahne, Rusty Wallace’s 78 Corvette, Jeff Gordon’s 2013 Corvette ZR1, and Rick Hendrick’s 1970 Chevelle SS.
Ray’s personal cars on site included the 1964 Plymouth ForPly recently featured in No Limits Magazine – this is a stunner of a car in person. Immaculate workmanship, clean lines, perfect stance. Beside this was a shimmering black 1969 Dodge Daytona Charger with red stripe. And the Marty Robbins 777 1964 Plymouth Late Model Belvedere Fury was between a 1948 GMC Wrecker and stock appearing 1940 Ford. This was next to Ray’s unrestored ’40 Ford Moonshine car.
The biggest challenge was finding favorites and choosing photos representative of the day! One high quality car was encountered after another. Proud owners stood by their creations or mingled with other owners. The mix of cars included everything from high-end customs, through restomods, survivors, muscle cars classics from the thirties through 2014, race cars, trucks, and so on.
The overall feeling of the day was of a positive high energy environment. Attendees enjoyed themselves and got to interact with Ray, Rusty Wallace and others. Bobby Allison was so overwhelmed by the number of autograph seekers, he had to find a second larger stack of photos to autograph. As an unannounced guest, Bobby was very gracious and many were thrilled to have a chance to speak with him or have their pictures taken with him. This humble, friendly, smiling man left an indelible impression.
The day ended with numerous presentations. At least twelve awards were presented to car owners (full list below). These included:
- Tony Stewart Choice- James Carswell, 1948 Chevy Truck
- Hendrick NorthLake Choice – Tim Edwards, 1955 Chevy BelAir
- IGNITE Choice – Jimmie Johnson, 1967 Chevy Camaro
- Rusty Choice – Billy Moose, 1962 Chevy BelAir
- Americarna Choice – Keith Sultana, Ford Roadster
- Ingersoll Rand Choice – Michael Waters, 1969 Chevy Z28
- Ray Evernham Choice – Kevin Neild, 1935 Dodge
One of the dilemmas facing the judges was the scope and high quality of the choices. Speaking with Rusty Wallace, he reiterated that point but had to go with the amazing fabrication and quality of the blue and black ’62 BelAir. As he commented, many NASCAR fabricators love to work on cars like this when they are away from the track because their work does not get bent or destroyed within a couple laps of the start of a race!
Rusty commented that he and Ray were fierce competitors on the track but have become close and loyal friends away from racing. This relationship epitomized the day. So many long-time friends responded to the call to help the Autism Society of North Carolina solely because it meant so much to Ray Evernham and his family.
All of the NASCAR drivers whose cars were present, the former drivers and crew members, and long-time friend and Mentor Rick Hendrick. Scott Krull of Ingersoll Rand (President HVAC Parts) summarized the feelings of many supporters - Ingersoll Rand has had a relationship with Ray Evernham for almost 20 years.
Ray is a quality individual and this event meant a lot to him and his family. So obviously it means a lot to Ingersoll Rand. The fact that a large number of business associates have become fast friends with Ray speaks to the essence of the man. The outpouring of support mirrors the car community as a whole and the outcome was fun family outing, new and refreshed friendships, a jaw-dropping collection of autos to admire and a large check for a worthy charity.
The Americarna Charity Car Show was held to raise funds for the IGNITE Center of Davidson, NC (www.ignite-davidson.org). This Center was opened by the Autism Society of North Carolina to benefit young adults with high-functioning autism or Asperger’s Syndrome. Founding support came from the Evernham Family Racing for a Reason organization. Its goal is to “foster social, financial, educational and employment independence for its members.
More importantly, IGNITE offers a social environment where members can connect with others and experience a sense of community”. At the end of the day, Ingersoll Rand and MSC Industrial Supply Company each donated $10,000 to IGNITE. With celebrity contributions still coming in and a rough estimate of the proceeds from the car show and attendees, the Americarna Car Show raised well over $40,000 for IGNITE.
This was to be a one-off event. But at the end of the awards presentation, a moved Ray Evernham announced this will be an annual event. Wild About Cars will be in contact with Ray and announcements will be forthcoming about future events.
Readers should take the opportunity to experience upcoming Americarna events. And in addition, you should watch for episodes of Americarna on Velocity beginning January 2014.
Ray wants to connect with the "real" hobbyist - he sees Americarna and any further shows he does as a chance to bring together entertainment, education, and emotion - and then back it up with: "real" cars like we all own, the culture surrounding the hobby - and do that by showing everyone some "cool" stuff.
- To find out about Ray Click HERE
- To learn about Americarna - Click HERE.
Bobby Allison signed autographs for hours on end.