Emptying out the toy box can be traumatic, unless your business includes restoring historic racing cars and finding new owners who will appreciate and nurture them. That’s the backstory of Ray Evernham, the New Jersey-bred NASCAR Hall of Fame crew chief and team owner, who is also an induction designee for the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America here in Daytona Beach. Ray’s shop, Big Iron Garage, in Mooresville, North Carolina, has been turning out significant cars for a long time now, partly through Ray’s status as host of the Americarna TV series. Like many people with very big collections, Ray has picked Mecum Auctions to help him sell it, which will happen at Mecum’s sprawling Indianapolis auction, which runs from May 13th through the 21st at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. Ray has consigned some 30 cars to Mecum, most of them highly historic and desirable, but we’re going to focus on just one of them.
The 1965 Brawner Hawk was driven by Mario Andretti as he emerged atop the 1965 Indianapolis 500 rookie class, and was the same car Andretti drove to USAC national titles in 1965 and 1966, his great leap to true national stardom. When Ray found the car, it was a chassis that Ray authenticated through noted Indy car restorer Bob McConnell and legendary crew chief Jim McGee, who both documented that it was indeed the real deal. “It was inj good shape, but really just a rusted chassis with a bunch of parts hanging on it,” Ray recalled. Later, it was stuffed with a big-block Chevrolet and raced by Fred Graves at Oswego Speedway as a Supermodified. Amazingly, the Hawk wasn’t cut, and a replica of the Andretti car that Ray also secured had all the right parts, making this a complete car in nearly as-raced condition, the parts authenticated by McGee. Ray has a lot of stunningly historic pieces looking for new buyers at Mecum, including the Don Maxwell-built Sprint car that Eddie Leavitt used to win the 1976 Knoxville Nationals, a landmark dirt Modified designed and built by Kenny Weld in 1975, the upright dirt car in which Jud Larson won a 1958 USAC race on the Phoenix dirt mile, and what we believe is the first car that America’s winningest stock car driver, Dick Trickle, campaigned in the 1975 Daytona 500. Still another car is the restored, authenticated Dodge Daytona in which Buddy Baker turned the first documented 200 MPH lap in NASCAR history. Step up and start bidding.