Published Friday, Feb. 27, 2009 | 7:30 p.m.
Updated Saturday, Feb. 28, 2009 | 5:30 p.m.
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Surrounded by showgirls, flying Elvi and adoring fans, a racecar celebrating the legacy of two legends was unveiled Friday at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
The 2001 Chevrolet Monte Carlo was painted by NASCAR artist Sam Bass to commemorate the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Elvis Presley, and “The Intimidator,” Dale Earnhardt. The “Earnhardt and Elvis” car is the last installment of the “Enduring Legends” series by Motorsports Authentics Action Racing Collectibles; the two earlier vehicles paired Earnhardt with Johnny Cash and John Wayne.
“It’s three American legends, three American icons, three of the greatest people you could match. They’re man’s man kind of guys,” said Don Hawk, interim president and chief executive officer of Motorsports Authentics.
Earnhardt was one of the drivers who brought NASCAR to the forefront of competitive sports before a 2001 fatal crash during the final lap of the Daytona 500. It changed the safety procedures of the sport forever.
Fans of Earnhardt made up the large crowd that circled the new vehicle, many yelling "awesome job, Sam!"
“As a race fan and a designer, it literally was a dream come true,” Bass said. “If you get a chance to combine two of your passions – racing and music – it's just an incredible experience and I feel very lucky to be here today.”
Bass also was able to combine his passions when he transferred the car’s design onto a customized ES-335 Gibson guitar, the model Presley played in his prime. The guitar will be auctioned off to support the Dale Earnhardt Foundation and the Elvis Presley Memorial Foundation.
The car was unveiled at the Speedway’s Neon Garage during NASCAR weekend to represent Presley’s relationship with Las Vegas.
“Earnhardt didn’t have as big a tie with Las Vegas as Elvis did, but Earnhardt had a great tie to NASCAR,” Las Vegas Motor Speedway president and general manager Chris Powell said.
The Las Vegas Motor Speedway offered the first 10,000 fans who purchased weekend passes a 1:64 scale replica of the custom car.
The vehicle also will be available for viewing on the weekend of March 6-8 at Graceland’s Elvis Presley Automobile Museum before it goes to its final home at Dale Earnhardt, Inc., in Mooresville, N.C., on Earnhardt’s birthday, April 29.