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HomeNewsClassic CarsRestored NASCAR with Thunderdome history up for auction

Restored NASCAR with Thunderdome history up for auction

A CAR that reputedly took part in the first NASCAR race at Calder Park Thunderdome is currently up for auction in the United States.

Originally built and raced by legendary independent racer James Hylton, the Chevrolet Monte Carlo has been a regular in historic stock car events in the United States across the past decade following an extensive restoration.

Per the auction listing, it’s believed the car – underpinned by Banjo Matthews-built chassis BP-7909 – began its racing life as a Chevrolet Caprice raced by Hylton throughout the 1979 and 1980 seasons.

It was eventually converted to Chevrolet Monte Carlo bodywork and the chassis had five inches cut out of its wheelbase for 1981 when the NASCAR Cup Series moved to a 110-inch wheelbase rule, and it continued to be campaigned by Hylton’s team in Cup Series and lower-tier ARCA Series competition until the end of the decade.

The car itself was variously nicknamed the ‘Tijuana Taxi’ and ‘Raggedy Ann’ over the course of its life while Hylton’s low-budget operation catered to a host of different drivers during the period, including Cup Series race winners Morgan Shepherd, Greg Sacks and Lenny Pond.

The Chevrolet made its way Down Under for the inaugural NASCAR race at Calder Park Thunderdome in 1988. Pic: Bring A Trailer

Among the cast of drivers was an Australian, Sydney-born Tony Spanos.

In 1987, a then 32-year-old Spanos linked up with Hylton in a bid to go racing in what was then known as the Winston Cup Series.

It’s understood that he used BP-7906 to attempt to qualify for a host of races throughout the year, missing the show at Richmond and Bristol early in the season before making the cut at Martinsville in April to become the second Australian to qualify for a Cup Series race.

He also raced in the Winston Open at Charlotte and attempted to qualify for the Coca-Cola 600 – where Allan Grice made the field in Bob Jane’s high-profile Foster’s-backed entry – as well as the Firecracker 400 at Daytona, and Bristol and Charlotte’s late-season races. Spanos is also believed to have raced the car in a handful of ARCA Series races in the same year, including at Talladega.

Spanos was one of the few Australians on the grid for the inaugural stock car race at Jane’s Calder Park Thunderdome in February 1988, although he was one of the race’s first retirements with transmission problems.

The car in action at Road America in May 2022. Pic: Bring A Trailer

Per the listing, the car continued to race in ARCA for the next few years and re-emerged in the growing historic stock car racing scene.

The car underwent a significant restoration in time to race at the 2012 Monterey Historics event, and most recently raced in the SVRA SpeedTour event at Road America in May.

At the time of writing, the current bid on the car is at US$22,986 (AU$34,457).

The auction is scheduled to end at 5:10am AEDT on December 1.

Click HERE to view the auction listing on Bring A Trailer.

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