Hagerty Video: Ray Evernham’s Secret Obsession W/ IROC Cars & Owning The “American Graffiti” Car | Barn Find Hunter

Ray Evernham's Secret Obsession W/ IROC Cars & Owning The "American Graffiti" Car | Barn Find Hunter

Posted: 2023-08-08 12:00:20
Author: Hagerty
Ray Evernham shows Tom his incredible collection of his vintage IROC, Stock Cars, and Modified Cars from the early days of racing. He also has a few surprises up his sleeve which leave Tom speechless.

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Hagerty Video Transcript

40 years ago I thought I was the only kid in the Northeast trying to carve his way into a role in professional Motorsports I found out there was another kid in the Northeast trying to do the same thing he was on the mechanical side of it I

Was trying to be on the pr side of it my friend Ray Abraham we both spent a nice career mostly around NASCAR and then we both got away from Nascar and got into old cars so Ray I know you’re a busy dude man thanks for allowing us to visit you Thomas always

Great to see you that you know we go back so far always telling the stories you know how we we’ve worked together for a long time Tom actually got me my first ever personal services agreement in NASCAR and we’ve been friends introduced me to the Amelia Island

Concor which I don’t know if I want to thank him or not because I’ve spent an awful lot of money or have a lot of time restoring classic cars but we both appreciate history so much every time we get together if the conversation runs on much longer than than we ever want to

Talk about so Ray has a collection of memorabilia that I thought would make an interesting barn find Hunter a little bit different than usual like for instance we’re standing in front of this door now tell me what this door is all about these doors are something that again that I

Always wanted to have and they are um we’ve got things stacked around but they are the original doors uh the Indianapolis garages they tore down to put up the current garages these doors are really collectible and I wanted them and they were gone like you’ve got to

Wait till they either come up for sale or unfortunately somebody passes away and and you know unfortunately somebody did pass away and we bought these from the auction you can still see the sticker on them but they are they are again one of my prized possessions because it’s there’s just something

About Indianapolis history that it just gets me in so I had them build a little facade of what it would have looked like here but yes who knows yeah who knows who passed through these doors is tail fobby John Andretti you know who the Valvoline sticker what was that was that

Al Junior you know it just really really neat stuff are they post-war so these garages were built after the fire right remember they had a huge fire Eddie and so these garages would have been built sometime I’m guessing in the 30s 40s they were that old and then

Later on when they decided to redo everything they disassembled them but they’ve kept a lot of the kept it a lot of doors you’ll see these in Speedy Bill’s Museum actually the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has a couple sets left and they built the facade so it could

Have been AJ Floyd Mario Andretti Jimmy Clark Dan Gurney wow yeah you know or guys like that I’m really interested in right Clint Broner George big naughty you know the mechanics you know the drivers would walk in and out of there once in a while but those mechanical

Guys they lived Behind These doors you know they actually actually would rent spaces at that time and build their cars and work all year long in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway garages so really a lot of super famous cars were built right there and stayed in the Indy

Garages how big a garage would have been oh no unfortunately we we are limited more on Space yeah and as I told you I apologize for everything being in disarray but 50 years of hoarding collecting whatever uh we’re trying to sort through everything an idea now but

This garage would have been a little bit smaller and it it it would actually have been turned the other way but we really want to hang memorabilia up in here we had just finished a an IndyCar restoration that I was going to put in here but somebody fell in love with it

And bought it so now I gotta find another one but you know we’re putting some things in here memorabilia wise that are again really significant that’s one of the original Gurney West Lake 289 Fords this was would have been built probably around 67 development you know and the slide injectors on this right

Here were hand built by Stuart hilborn as a prototype at that time really pretty cool and then later on when Westlake uh this is a car this is a motor from uh was going to be a Chrysler IndyCar motor and there were only three of those prototypes was that like a

Based on a 340 or what what are you based on a you know I’m not sure if it was 340 or 318 base because they were only allowed 265 cubic inches I think at that time so they had to D stroke and and do some things but I just thought again it was

Really cool people are like what do you do with that I was like well look at it wow you know to me hanging on to the racing and being able to share those stories we’ve been Sportsman good to us and part of our responsibility is doing what you’re

Doing telling the stories yeah yeah yeah but something that may interest you before we run out of here oh Chris economies Chris economaki’s pit passes did you grow up I mean I know you did and I did too watching a Wide World of Sports I did with Chris and Connor

Mackey hello everyone I’m Krista Connor Mackey live from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway all right so we have a big building here to look at yeah Today’s sponsor is Consumer Cellular they’ve reached to out to us because they they dig barn finds but they also dig barn find people like you they know the money that you save each month on your cellular plan you could invest in your barn find new Wheels tires rebuild that motor

It’s a no-brainer so to save money for your next project car check out the link in the description below so what I’m looking at modifies I’m looking at IROC I’m looking at a little bit of everything here what what do you got here oh you’re right we got everything

Mike my collection is a lot like me eclectic I’m all over the place but IROC has always been special for me if it wasn’t for Jason Nori and Roger Penske giving me a chance at Iraq I don’t know where I’d be I was racing at wall Stadium barely barely making it they

Moved Iraq to Tinton Falls New Jersey I went and asked for a job and and got one and uh those cars there are first generation Camaro that was driven by James Hunt Brian Redman AJ foyt James Hunt actually owned that car I’m sorry Brian Redman actually owned that car for

A while wow and um so Iraq started 1973 with Porsches and then they wanted to go the Camaros porches were very expensive still very expensive if you can get one but those Camaros were actually Bodies In White from Chevrolet sent down to banjo Matthews he put roll cages in what in

Them came back up to Penske penske’s guys who did all the Trans Am work finished them and they ran these from 74 to 75 and six Richard Petty after they started running these Daytona Richard Petty said you cats you cats are going to have to build

Something a little bit more like a stock car one of us is going to get hurt because they had had a couple bad wrecks with these things Riverside places like that so they went to banjo Matthews and had him build these cars like the O2 car

And that 15 car they raced these uh from 77 to 80 and if you remember there was a big crash in Atlanta Mario a big crash on the last lap wrecked a bunch of cars IROC took about a three-year Hiatus and then that’s when I went to work for them

December of 83. this car is actually uh that’s 40 years ago yeah yeah you saw it when you were five years old right yeah well that’s what I keep telling everybody you know it’s uh you know when you said 40 I was like you’re being generous Tom we were a little a bit

Older than that but this is actually an Avenger but it started out as a generation 3 Camaro one of the cars that I built this was one of our practice cars and and uh so so there were serial numbers and you could actually go back yeah yeah this this car started Life as

A Camaro and uh and then it became a Dodge Daytona finally a Dodge Avenger and if you look that that just gives you an idea of the the drivers that drove this thing this car is a two-seat uh car we still use it to play with we take it

Up to vir and and have some fun with it but you know I actually built this car in 1984 some of my original welds and Fabrication are still on it and you know for several years at Iraq I did a lot of if not most of the aluminum welding

Especially when we did radiators and things like that and then even when I started the number 24 car with Jeff Gordon for the first uh one or two years there I was the aluminum welder and now that my eyes are gone it’s I’m not the aluminum welder anymore so have you did

You buy these cars as is have you restored them what’s it deal with we’re working on restoring um some this what we do is we we buy them this car is really original and we it’s so original in fact that we had the original motor

In it and it’s over at Pro motor being done right now because it sat for 30 years now really you know to me these cars are what the next big thing is going to be because you know as well as I do it’s it’s almost impossible to to

Find or be able to afford a car that has some great drivers you’re ahead of the curve here hopefully cool well that’ll be the first time in my life and this car I never worked on the Firebirds but that car actually ran in the last ever IROC Race 2000 that’s Ryan

Newman Ryan Newman drove that one yeah so this car I bet a lot of people watching this program have seen this car somewhere you ran didn’t you run Pike’s Peak with it [Applause] this car I actually we won our class at Pike’s Peak in 2018 with it we took it

To uh an HSR race at Daytona International Speedway where Mr uh France said you probably need not to bring that thing back because they put me in with about uh 50 Porsches and Mercedes and things like that we qualified third and finish third uh you know racing you drove it I drove

It yeah and uh pretty amazingly quick Bill Elliott driven it Forrest said Boris said said it is it is he said the wildest car he’s ever driven this is like a Can-Am car isn’t it it runs uh it it runs in the low minute and 22 second

Bracket at uh Road Atlanta with me driving it so if we were to put uh you know a Mike skein or one of the guys that helps us out and it you know it probably run much faster than that it’s about 850 horsepower it weighs 2 500

Pounds and it makes almost 3 000 pounds of downforce at 180 miles an hour it is a steel it is a real 1936 Chevy body that we you know took out a you know bought it came out of Kansas chopped channeled all of this is is handcrafted aluminum the front they’re the only

Carbon fiber on this car is the skirts everything else is metal so did I hear the that this was clocked at 200 at Daytona well they’re exaggerating it was really only 196. with you driving yes sir we pulled out of the you know and that was from uh you

Know the bus stop at Daytona that was on the road course bus stop at Daytona to entering turn one where they put the radar thing 196. yeah it uh it’s it’s it’s really a pretty special car so it is it is uh run at Indianapolis on the

Road course um it is run bir and it also we shipped it to New Zealand where it ran a hill climb over there with you driving yeah oh yeah yeah yeah and so here’s your modified collection again sorry that they’re they’re still we’ve been doing so much construction here we’re trying to keep

The dust off of them but that actually is Richie Evans uh car that he was um it was on the back up the day that Richie lost his life at Martinsville and that is still owned by Richie’s family Billy nasowitz and and uh and um his wife Lynn

So that car was at the Nascar Hall of Fame with Richie and his family needed a place to put it and it’s an honor to have it here and then the car next to it believe it or not is the White Lightning that is the car that Jeff beaudine won so many

Races in and got him back I think discovered into NASCAR and it’s also the car if you remember the famous picture of Richie Evans up on the wall at Martinsville and beaudine is on that is that car so I I thought it fitting that these two cars sit side by side this Jim

Hendrickson dominated racing at Long Island Tony ferranto I used to watch him race at Islip Speedway well that car won uh at Islip it was I slip track Champion Freeport track champion and uh it was also the wall Stadium track champion and this car won the very first modified

Race that I ever raced in in 1979. so he used to have a little Playboy Bunny somewhere yeah it’s still on there this car is special because Jim Hendrickson was he was special when I ran wall stadium and if you knew Jim you know Jim pure white hair oh perfect

Women white fire suit and he used to drive in white tennis shoes yeah and all the women in the grandstands were cheered that was their guy and I remember my the first time racing with Jim and again he won that modified race that night but they were about to lap me

And the caution came out and so I’m riding around there under caution and Jim pulls up alongside of me and he’s smoking a cigarette and he looks at me and he goes like and he was just letting me know hey kid we’re coming this is a wall at wall Stadium

1979 and the car next to it the 303 I got that man’s autograph when I was about 11 or 12 years old that he swings their Speedway I always loved that car bumped into his son down here who worked for ritual Childress and I said hey

How’s your dad and he said he’s doing good doing good and I said man I used to love that Coop does he still have it and and he said yeah he still got it I said man would he ever sell it and he said I don’t know why don’t you ask him he

Lives closer to you and he does me turned out that he had moved down here several years ago and this car was still sitting in a warehouse and it went down there and I just I begged and pleaded then and he finally sold me that car the crude welding it’s probably done

With a gas welder or something right or a stick these cars were home built you know back then and a lot of it not and not really with great tubing and whatnot a lot of it was Plumbing mechanical yeah yeah yeah black iron pipe so they were heavy

Look where the engine was holy Macker it’s almost a Mid Engine geez unrestored I love it man yeah that that still has dirt on it from Flemington Speedway 1973. that that police car what’s that looks familiar oh of course it does that’s one of the Blues Brothers uh that’s not a

Movie car and it’s basically a show car but the speaker and everything works and we drive it around when we’re advertising our American car show we drove it around Davidson and Mooresville dressed as The Blues Brothers with the speaker on and people were running out of uh running out of the restaurants and

Bars taking pictures of it so we use it we have fun with it we’re going to use it at the at the upcoming Auto fair but it gets it gets as much attention as any other car that I have here especially when you go down the road making

Announcements what else we got so what what’s behind the door over there oh we got more junk and again just please please tell fans Rey is normally not this organized but you said barn find Hunter it’s more like a flea market lately I don’t know if you wanted to go through

There but there’s there’s cars back there that I got from Rick Hendrick Mike two modified cars and the the car that’s responsible for me and Jeff Gordon being together I know you were together me and Jeff Gordon Oh I thought it would just put on I’m sorry

I’ll Dodge back into NASCAR was a team owner you know like we’re looking at all this stuff like but that’s this thing people know you for right yeah but you know what the cool part is it’s been such a really good transition for me from the racing to to doing the

Restoration and doing the Concours and the shows because I’m I’m meeting these great people and like it’s like the stories the stories that come with the cars are incredible I mean like what you do like I could sit there and just binge watch you guys you know like it’s just

Because every every car everything you find has got a story all right somehow I don’t go to the movies often but I think I remember seeing this in a movie that car may be when people ask you what’s your favorite car I fell in love

With this car 1973 I was 15 years old it was in the movie American Graffiti and all I I dreamed about this car and that movie and every car guy did and as time went by and I’ve got some more resources I started to search the car out and I

Had always kept track the guy had it and didn’t want to sell it and and then finally I gave up on it and we got another one and started to say well let’s we’ll just build a replica I was doing the Americana show and we’re doing

A show on Hollywood cars I walk into this place and uh I said oh you gotta you’ve got a replica of the and they’re like no that’s it we’re doing some work on it it’s going to auction and it went to auction at numbers I couldn’t compete

With and the auction company called me and we kept negotiating for about you know six eight months and you know I kept saying No this is all the money I have I will pay you that but I don’t have any more and they said well how

About this well no I can’t do that well how about this I can’t do so in another six or great months they finally said okay we’ll take the money that you want well at least will you at least pay to ship it and uh got our friends from ExAlta to help

Offset the cost of doing it but this is the most extensive restoration project on A Streetcar that we’ve ever done and I’ll tell you why we wanted to use every single part that it was on the car in the movie we have the original tires and wheels they’re not sitting on it right

Now because they’re not really safe but we had ExAlta came in and scanned the paint and did testing to make so we could match the color because it was originally painted with lacquer just over red gotta remember it was a movie car all of these Stripes they just taped

Them on and painted them they weren’t the same we digitized the car from front to back to so that we could make it perfectly so they’re not the same still no no and you know trying to match the fog and the fade out again because it was probably taped off and sprayed with

A spray can so we went through all that we took the nuts and bolts out of the car had them cleaned and replated so we could use them all the only things that we changed were consumer bubbles like brake pads and ball joints and tie rods things that would make it unsafe to

Drive the gentleman that had it actually cracked the block it had a 348 with a single carburetor in it and a three speed for the movie but in the movie if you remember Candy Clark um said you know Debbie says to toad hey

Will it peel out and he said I got a 327 with six strombergs you know how hard it is to find a 1962 327 and six Stromberg manifold so we we searched we got that the interior had faded it was torn in some spots I got with Bobby Alloway a

Good friend famous hot rod builder we took the interior out of this car and took it to his interior guy who searched and found rolls of material from the same manufacturer completely re-dyed the material the interior fixed it this is the original interior from the movie

It’s not it’s not even repair it is repaired and re-dyed but it is 100 percent the original interior we added carpet because they said believe it or not in the movie they just had rugs and like that white fur and whatnot so we put a carpet in it the the headliner

Door panels everything from the movie Interiors in there the only thing we did we had to replace the window they in the movie they said we want shaved door handles to make it look good but they didn’t put any buttons to open it so somebody rolled up the window shut

The door they were running behind on hey let’s let’s film it they broke the window that’s why in the movie you never see the windows up in this car because it had no had no window they broke it out to keep it going so how do you is

There a way to open it now there’s not there’s not still yeah we leave the window down and in the movie he leaves it in reverse and he backs into a guy remember he’s going to race the guy and then he forgets him he backed and said I

Left the den I said what’s that because you know that’s where that that bumper went up wow and and bent that you know it’s just I wanted that the same so this the 59 caddy Taylor yeah yeah I wanted that I wanted it to be really like it

Was in the movie because it you know it was rough it needed some needed some attention but I didn’t want to change it and you haven’t done many street cars have you not many no yeah yeah so another modified Tommy Baldwin yeah this Tom Baldwin senior who unfortunately

Lost his life in a modified at uh at um Thompson Speedway in 2004 but Tom Tom incredible car builder incredible car builder uh I I raced quite a bit with Tom senior and Tom Jr actually worked for me for a while when he you know he was Casey Kane’s crew chief when I

Started my team this particular car ended up being the 1975 wall Stadium track Champion with another guy driving a guy named Joe severich who was kind of a local guy so so much history connected to my younger racing days the way that they built these cars if you look at

This this is still this would have been I believe 54 Chevy frame rail but they used to take Chrysler lower control arms and and torsion bars with a Lincoln Continental upper control arm and just go to the junkyard and that’s how they were good and if you look at it all they

Did was really copy that stuff as we were going forward and make that out of tubing a lot of the geometry on these early cars is still kind of what existed up until the into the 90s really until we got on all the crazies power steering

In the day I can’t answer that on when it was first built but you figure this ran Islip Freeport but they probably with these short tracks because they always had pretty big tires you know modifieds always had pretty big tires and but again I don’t know if you

Remember Tom Baldwin senior but he’s not a guy you would want to get into a fight with that’s why he won a lot of races on the island I think because nobody wanted to pass them wow wow yeah you’re bringing back a lot of names that I haven’t thought oh yeah a long

Time and then we’ll go into the shop where the guys are uh hammering on some other things wow so this is not something I would imagine that would be in Ray Abraham shop not the old Ray evernham but but the new Ray Abraham has found so many interesting things and and

As time goes on but you know I look at cars as as works of arts and I love the story uh with cars and this car is called a ferret and it this is ferret one and it was built by a man named Peter Dawson where Peter the states he

Bought he built it in Michigan but Peter was uh had worked for Colin Chapman over in England and learned his trade over there then became a Chrysler engineer and Peter hand built this car raced raced it as H modified a four-cylinder Crosley engine and it is Aluminum and

Magnesium and this is the original body my guys totally restored this car I’ve got some I’ve got guys here that I would put up against anybody in the business metal wise they saved all the Magnesium parts and aluminum parts they they had to recreate that tunnel but everything

Else is is the same so what does this car weigh in races it weighs 900 pounds with that Crosley motor in it and these are the original tires and wheels that were on the car and Tom what’s really neat about this car it’s built out of

The pieces from erect seada so a guy named Jan Muller wrecked the Seattle and he and Pete Dawson took the pieces off that it’s got Seattle hubs Seattle steering see you know we went back um and got the the Italian sports car book and found the numbers and so the

Cars got some legitimate legitimate history I mean this car speaks to me this is my thing holy mackerel so this is a one of one well it’s a one-of-one ferret the front engine car but he also built another one that were in the process of restoring now that’s called

Ferret two this one actually I guess you’d call us a mid-engine car but it had a three cylinder Mercury outboard and as you can see my guys right now the original fenders original matter they take the stuff apart they clean they work it through the in the English wheel

They work really hard based off of pictures the you get as much time doing research and pictures and things as as anything else like every other race car you’ve got to find a the ear that you want to restore it to but we have found some really original pictures of of this

Car as well also built in Michigan yeah also in in Pete’s garage so it was basically a bunch of Chrysler Engineers that got together and and their weekends and at nights and built cars so on yet another Iraq car this one is a car that was driven to victory at Riverside by

Peter Gregg and again because of of going to Amelia Island and things like that with you even though I had worked with Hurley Haywood in the 80s I’ve gotten to spend a lot more time reading about Hurley and and Peter Greg and the things that they did so we restored this

Car back to the Peter Greg it’s going to be shown in a in a couple weeks but it runs drives very cool so this is something I ask a lot of people and you’ll be perfect for it if I took away all your cars and you could have one car back

What would it be that is um man that’s like whoo that’s like gosh all night you know I’ve chased that American Graffiti car since I was a kid so I’ve never dreamed about having any car longer than that one the ghost is closed so I couldn’t couldn’t

Have could have two can you have two yeah okay so you know here are two guys from the Northeast who came down to Charlotte to get involved racing and you know we both were there and now we’re here and Ray is doing his best to find old

Race cars and and bring them back to a condition that we could all appreciate them I mean tell me like what’s your what’s your dream are you living the dream I really am I and that’s the truth and you know you can’t you don’t get to write your

Own script because you can never write it as good as it’s going to turn out I have been so fortunate and so blessed I mean meeting people like you and hundreds or thousands of other people but just to learn the stories of these cars and I said I don’t know if you and

I are curators but and I love talking about these cars more than anything people go how could you remember so much well that’s why I want to talk about them because the older I get I don’t know if I’ll be able to remember you know what we remember when we were the

Young guys yeah I do hey it’s been fun growing old with you man well we got more to do we’ve got plenty more to do