From Rio Linda to Grass Valley, when Don Towe drives his Chevrolet Monte Carlo, he is shades of … Earnhardt Jr.
Special to The Union
Don Towe is like most NASCAR fans. He has a large collection of T-shirts, hats and other souvenirs bearing the colors and numbers of his favorite drivers. Some are even autographed.
But it’s not his merchandise collection that attracts the attention of people from his home in Rio Linda to Grass Valley, and beyond.
Towe, a wireless consultant for Gizmo Planetary Communications who works in the Grass Valley store several times a week, drives a 2004 Chevrolet Monte Carlo painted to look exactly like the racecar driven by Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series ” complete with stickers.
The bright red car, with a large No. 8 on each door and a full set of sponsor decals, can be found parked in front of Gizmo’s whenever Towe is in town. People of all ages stop to admire the car, Towe said.
“Police officers, firefighters, all sorts of people have had their picture taken next to my car,” said Towe, who was a fan of the late Dale Earnhardt. “My wife, Carroll, knowing what a big Earnhardt fan I am, bought the car for me from an eBay auction about six months ago.”
There were 2,883 Super Sport Signature Series Monte Carlos made in 2004 and only three of those have the full set of stickers and decals, according to Towe. The other two cars are also in California, one at Anheiser Busch in Riverside and the other owned by a private party in Los Angeles.
“I was a Dale Senior fan,” Towe said, describing how he developed his interest in the sport and subsequent support of Dale Junior. Dale Earnhardt was killed in a racing accident during the last lap of the Daytona 500 on Feb. 18, 2001. Towe switched his allegiance to The Intimidator’s son, Dale Jr., after that tragedy.
Don is not the only NASCAR fan in his family. Both he and Carroll have children from previous marriages and they foster 7-10 medically-fragile children at any given time in their Rio Linda home.
Each child quickly gets into the NASCAR spirit, Towe said, wearing race-themed clothing, collecting racing memorabilia, sleeping with miniature race cars clutched in their hands; Sean Towe, 6, even dressed as Dale Earnhardt Jr. last Halloween.
Auto racing becomes a true family affair several times a year for the Towes. The entire group loads up and drives to at least three NASCAR Nextel Cup races annually ” those held in Fontana, California, Las Vegas and Phoenix. They will be at the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 12.
The No. 8 Budweiser Monte Carlo joined the family caravan last summer, attracting attention to, from and at those racetracks. Towe hopes the NASCAR community will also take notice of his unique automobile.
“My goal is to get as many drivers as possible to sign the car,” Towe said. So far he has collected one autograph ” that of Jason Jarrett (son of Nextel Cup driver and past champion Dale Jarrett), a successful driver in the ARCA/RE/MAX Racing Series. But an autograph from Dale Earnhardt Jr. would make Towe a very happy man.
“To be driving around this car with his autograph on the dash would make it a very unique and cherished item,” Towe said.
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