Hendrick Motorsports

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Terry Labonte Surprised with 'Tribute Car'

  • Sep 20, 2006

FORT WORTH, Texas (Sept. 20, 2006) – Having been nicknamed “The Iceman” early in his career, two-time NASCAR champion Terry Labonte is widely known for his cool, calm and collected demeanor.  But even he was surprised following the unveiling of his No. 44 Kellogg’s/Terry Labonte Tribute Chevrolet at Texas Motor Speedway on Tuesday evening.

Labonte, in town to give driving tips to members of the Dallas Cowboys prior to a session with the “Team Texas” racing school, was unaware he would also be pulling the car cover off the Monte Carlo SS he will pilot in his final NEXTEL Cup Series race, the Nov. 5 Dickies 500 at TMS.

“It was quite a surprise,” said Labonte, a native of Corpus Christi who was joined by speedway president Eddie Gossage and Cowboys players for the reveal.  “It’s a truly unique race car, that’s for sure.  I’ve never seen anything quite like it.

“I’m definitely looking forward to showing it off to all the fans here in November and hopefully giving the car a good run.  Everyone did a great job keeping this a secret because I had absolutely no clue it was happening.”

The vision of car designer Jim Gravlin, the scheme features moments from Labonte’s 1996 championship and each of his dozen Cup victories with Hendrick Motorsports since 1994.  The images include his infamous 1995 win at Bristol, Tenn., the historic 2003 Southern 500 triumph at Darlington, S.C., and his 1999 victory at Texas, which is appropriately showcased on the hood.

The rear bumper of the car is inscribed simply with, “Thanks for the memories.”

It was a fresh challenge for Gravlin, who said it took an untried process to give the Chevy its bright metallic appearance.  Black and white images were initially printed onto a special silver decal, which was then used to “wrap” the car’s body.  The photos were then given three coats of DuPont’s “apple red candy” paint to finish off the car’s unmistakable look.

“To my knowledge, no one has ever painted over a wrap,” said Gravlin, who has designed cars since the mid-1990s and now works exclusively for Hendrick Motorsports.  “The final product turned out even better than we thought it would.  Hopefully, Terry’s fans will like it as much as we do.”

Labonte will race Oct. 1 at Kansas Speedway and Oct. 14 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway before his career finale at Texas.  The 1984 and 1996 Cup champion has 845 starts, 22 wins, 182 top-five finishes and 361 top-10s in a career that spans four decades.