CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Ray Evernham loves racing and cars.
So it was only natural for Evernham to build the ultimate car collection drawing from a lifetime of racing.
“Some of the things in here I got inspired from when I was 15 years old by American graffiti, other things I was inspired from something that happened yesterday,” Evernham said.
The first car that sticks out in his collection is a 1937 Ford Coupe called the XL-1. In the late 50's and early 60's it was in the winner’s circle more times than not with legendary drivers like Wally Dallenbach Sr, Lee Roy Yarbrough and Joe Kelly behind the wheel.
That car is an urban legend in New Jersey and disappeared
“Carrying on that tradition, finding those things that are lost is really cool and then preserving as much of it as we can, my guys are good the guys in the back there somehow they are able to take rust and put it back together,” Evernham said.
From there he has an impressive collection of cars from racing's early years most notably this No. 9 Bowes seal fast car driven by Judd Larson -- that car won a race in 1959 in Phoenix and was one of the last to run at Daytona
Just behind the midget cars is a blue modified bearing Evernham’s name. Special to him because it's the last car he raced before moving to North Carolina.
“Got a special place in my heart and it looks extra special because we just restored it, trust me when I raced it didn't look like that had, a few dents in it, that’s one of the ones we talk about over restored,” he said.
Ray's collection also includes a modified from one of his toughest competitors Geoff Bodine.
“That is one of the cars I raced against in 1979, I say raced against more like he was in the front and I was in the back, Geoff was an incredible driver an car builder and when he built that car it really changed the direction of modified racing that car was so far ahead of its time,” Evernham said.
He has the Dodge Bill Elliott won the pole with in the 2001 Daytona 500, right next to a classic Jeff Gordon Chevrolet but his pride and joy is this No. 21 Ford once owned by the Wood brothers.
“It’s one of the jewels in our collection, we’ve had the wood brothers here to look at it, Donnie Allison who also won a race in it has been here sonny Hutchens who was a legendary race car driver won a bunch of races in it but Leonard keeps wanting to come and get it back and take it and tinker with it and put it back exactly like it was but I am afraid. He will be cutting it up and putting back different front ends and only he knows what it really looked like,” he said.
There are cars, gas station mock ups and memorabilia all over and each item tells a small tale about Evernham, but not the full story of the man.
“It’s like a puzzle and to have that puzzle complete you need every piece, so one piece isn’t more important than the other,“ Evernham said. “When I look at it I look at it as completed puzzle of that party of my career we still have plenty of piece for the new part of my career but when I look back at that it’s really hard for me to say this was more important or that was more important because without every single piece of that puzzle I would not be sitting here right now.”