Dale Earnhardt, Jr visits HPI!
In Southern California for the NAPA Auto Parts 500 race at California Motor Speedway, NASCAR Winston Cup Series race car driver Dale Earnhardt Jr took time from his busy schedule to stop by the HPI USA headquarters for a tour of our facility.
Dale Jr's road crew, including engine techs, pit crew members and truck drivers also came for the tour. Most of them have at least one HPI car, and all of them enjoy playing with their R/C cars and trucks at the NASCAR events around the country.
Once we found out about the visit, HPI "graphics guys" Matt Kearney and Scott Roberts prepared a special replica of the #8 Budweiser Monte Carlo (#7430) body for Dale Jr. We used Pactra Racing Red spray paint and cut custom logos from our computerized vinyl cutting machine. Some of the sponsor logos (fender decals, etc.) were from Slixx Graphics decals. Dale Jr was nice enough to give us a huge signature on the trunk of the body, and we also made up another Bud #8 display body for him to keep. Junior's crew also dropped off some killer hats for our staff, and we provided them with HPI hats.
After Buy HPI's Troy Lyman showed Dale Jr and his crew around the HPI USA building, our staff was invited to a barbecue put on by the official oil cooler of NASCAR, Fluidyne. With a huge production facility in Ontario, CA, they had enough room to host a small car show and a free barbecue dinner for NASCAR crews and other guests. Once we arrived, we checked out the cars on display and took a tour of the Fluidyne and Thermal Dynamics production facility.
After the tour, we were invited to run our spec-RTR Nitro RS4 Stock Car Series in a special area of the parking lot. Once the first cars were fired up, a crowd immediately formed up at the end of our short oval track. This shows that 2 corner dots or traffic cones with a few cars making laps can easily become a traffic-stopper!
After about 40 minutes on the short oval, the HPI van was packed up and accompanied by the Bud #8 crew we headed to a new, huge warehouse that Fluidyne will move into. While it's empty we were offered the chance to run as long as we wanted indoors! As we pulled out our spec Stock Car Series car with 4mm carbs, rear can mufflers and spec tires, the Bud #8 guys were starting up their totally modified Nitro RS4 cars and turning laps!
Running the cars on a long oval around two support poles on the dusty, super-slick track (polished concrete) took some practice, but most of the guys on the track took advantage to learn the midget spring car mode of driving (or, for rally fans, the 4-wheel drift!). Seeing a stock car go completely around a turn with the nose pointed at the pole took some getting used to!
While most of the HPI crew were racing, others took some time to help a couple of the Bud #8 crewmen break in brand-new engines. We made sure to remind them that going from a 15FE (our easy-to-tune, beginner-friendly engine) to a race-modified 1hp .15 engine with tuned pipe was a big jump! Luckily these guys know how to work on 800 hp 350 cubic inch V-8's so they understood that they have to take their time with the engine and go easy on the throttle.
After the Fluidyne barbecue was wrapped up, the owner of the company brought the remaining drinks to the new warehouse and took in the Nitro craziness. While he doesn't have a car of his own yet, we could tell he wanted one!
Soon it was time to go, and most of the HPI crew that arrived had to head back to Orange County and drive home. The HPI van was packed up again and Kent Clausen took the wheel. Saying goodbye to the Bud #8 jack men, engine techs, vehicle drivers and Fluidyne employees, we wished them the best of luck for Sunday's race and tried to blink the Nitro fumes out of our eyes.
We told the entire Bud #8 and Fluidyne crew, as well as Dale Jr himself, that we appreciated their visit and barbecue invitation, and thanked them again and let them know we'll be rooting for them in the future! The entire crew was very friendly, and really into R/C cars, they thanked us several times for giving them the tour of the HPI facility. We also gave them directions to the local hobby shops, which they have since visited to stock up on a huge supply of R/C car parts and accessories.
Thanks again to Dale Jr. and the Bud #8 crew for stopping by!
Note: Dale Jr. had trouble in qualifying, starting in 38th place but finished a well-deserved third at the NAPA Auto Parts 500 on April 29, 2001!
Go to NASCAR.com, the official web site of National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing
Go to FOXSports.com, the official broadcaster of NASCAR
Go to Budweiser.com (only if you're over 21!), Dale Jr's sponsor and team site
Go to DEJr8.com, Dale Jr's team site
news: HPI racers take part in stock racing fun!