This 1957 Dale Earnhardt tribute car was the result of a lot of phone calls!
Story by Ron Kiefer Photography by Colin Date
I have owned “DALE” since 1974. I was at the Chevy Classics Club’s first convention, and so was this ’57, but at that time it was “just” a Two-Ten– showing in the modified category.
I started following NASCAR during the late ’70s, and it wasn’t too long after that I figured Dale Earnhardt was “my guy”. I wanted to do a tribute car to him, but never got around to it. After Dale passed away in that wreck back in 2001, it gave me that much more push, so to speak.
I started a letter-writing campaign to Richard Childress Enterprises (the NASCAR racing team that owns the rights to the #3 Chevrolet Monte Carlo and the associated graphics). After that didn’t result in much, I started calling on the phone. I soon became on a first name basis with the operator. Trying to get them to believe I wasn’t some wacko was a chore! After yet another call, the kind lady says (in a wonderful Southern drawl), “Is this you, Ron?” “Yes,” I replied. She then told me she’d let me talk to Mr. Spicer. When I talked to him, he said, “Is this that guy that has been writing all those letters and bothering my operator?” “Yes,” I replied. I told him I wanted to do up my ’57 Chevy like Earnhardt’s Monte Carlo, as a tribute car. I had to assure him that I was a true NASCAR fan, and a Earnhardt fan. He then gave me permission, but I had to sign a letter stating that if anything should happen, I wouldn’t hold Richard Childress Enterprises or GM Goodwrench liable. Mr. Spicer also informed me that after I had the letter notarized and faxed back to him, he would give me the name of the lady to call at Motor Sports Design. Since I worked at a car dealership, I just went to the finance manager, got her notary stamp on the document and faxed it back. Mr. Spicer was true to his word– I got the number, and the name I needed.
Mr. Spicer had told me that if Lois at Motor Sports Design had any questions, she was to give him a call. When I called Lois and told her that I wanted the decal package for the #3 2010 Monte Carlo, she paused, then said that she didn’t have them. I said, “Oh, Mr. Spicer over at Richard Childress said if you have any questions to give him a call.” Then she told me that she would check the inventory again and call me back shortly. After 15 minutes, she called me back and said she had a set. Great! When I asked her how much they were, she told me $750. Then I paused, and asked her how much the race teams pay. She told me they pay the same– some cars, depending on the scheme, could be as much as $1500. Wow. After giving her my credit card info she would get them out to me. I couldn’t wait!
A couple of days went by, then the brown truck came. I opened up the tube the decals came in, spread them out on the garage floor, and noticed that there were not any “contingency” (sponsor) decals. I called Lois and said that they had shorted me the decals, to which she informed me that they do not have them– I’d have to get them from all of the different manufacturers. I asked her how I could get all of the different companies phone numbers. Then she suggested I call Richard Childress and get the decals from them directly. So I called my “buddy” Mr. Spicer. “What do you want now, Ron?” was the response. When I told him of my quandary, he gave me the phone number of his manager in the parts department. Once again, Mr. Spicer told me to tell the person if they had any questions, to call him directly.
So, I called and asked the parts department manager for the contingency decal set for the #3 2010 Monte Carlo. He told me that he didn’t know if they had any to spare, so I said, “Oh, by the way, Mr. Spicer said that if you had any questions, you were to give him a call.” A short pause, then he asked for my address. The nice man overnighted them!
I took my time and carefully applied all the decals to my black beauty. It was then that I noticed that I was missing one; the NASCAR “rainbow” decal that goes on the top front edge of the door. So I call my “buddy” once more. “Now what do you want, Ron?” I told him the decal I was missing and his reply was, “We don’t have them, NASCAR puts them on the car when it goes through tech.” Mr. Spicer told me to contact NASCAR directly and ask them. This would be the final piece to my puzzle.
I wrote NASCAR and told them about my car, told them about all of my dealings with Richard Childress, sent a picture of my car with all the decals on it and asked them for the “rainbow” NASCAR decals that I needed. It was about a week later that I received an envelope in the mail. In it was a nice letter from Mr. Mike Helton, and yes, the missing decals!
Whenever I drive the car I always get thumbs-up, honking horns and smiles! It was all worth it, and I hope ol’ Dale would be proud. Maybe I’ll meet Dale Jr. some day, I think he’d like the car.
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