Long Lost Top Dog: 1997 CITGO Car


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Are you a NASCAR fan? If so, you’ll likely recognize the name Michael Waltrip for his surprise victory at the Winston Cup in 1996. For those of us who don’t know the story, he started out in last place yet took the lead in the final nine laps and took the checkered flag. He had high hopes for the 1997 season and so did his sponsor CITGO. This car wore dalmatian spots as a tie into their current ad campaign and to show that it was the top dog. At the end of the season it had all of it’s value pieces removed and the body was put on display at a sports bar. In 2005 it went to a museum and was on display for a short time. It eventually went into storage, but has recently been dug out and is up for grabs here on eBay in Fort Wayne, Indiana.


Calling this a car really isn’t accurate at this point, it’s more of a display piece seeing even the chassis is long gone. Sadly, it doesn’t even roll and is sitting on a framework of tubing. You couldn’t even sit in it and pretend your racing in the Winston Cup as it sits. For any serious NASCAR fan though, it sure would be a great conversation and show piece!

Ford Motorsports Serial

I always wonder what happens to old NASCAR race cars at the end of the season. Obviously most of the cars have their valuable pieces stripped off to be reused or sold. I’m amazed there aren’t actually more old shells out there, but I guess this is a big item to have on display in your house. It makes sense that something like this would end up in a sports bar or a restaurant.


If I were in the market for something like this, I would be tempted to sit this body on a stretched and widened golf kart chassis. That way I could at least take it for spins around the neighborhood! So what would you do with this top dog? And do you any of you remember seeing Waltrip zooming by in this car? Special thanks to our friends over at BoldRide for this tip!

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  1. sheffield cortina centre

    cut the body of a vette (if dimensions are correct) & bond it on or a similar chassis of the correct dimensions ?
    similar to a kitcar build.

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  2. PaulG

    Michaels win was in the All Star race called the Winston, and was a bit of an underdog. He won his first points paying event in February 18, 2001 at the Daytona 500, the same one where Dale Earnhardt Sr. perished. Prior to that he was 0 for 462 in points paying events.
    Would be a cool display piece, not much more. Interesting just the same.
    NASCAR fan here…

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    • scot carr

      ~ I came to make the same comment…..
      RIP Dale Sr.

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      • Wildfire

        Michael HATED winning ant not getting that bear hug from Dale Sr. what should’ve been the happiest day in his life turned into the saddest day in Na$car History

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  3. Car Geek

    Let’s cut off the top, put on sneeze shields and make it a salad car.

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  4. Leo

    Dont know what you would do with this car but as a sode note i HATE your ad placements and how sensitive they are when scrolling down. A “crammed” ad sure isnt going to entice me into buying the product!! Justt sayin…

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    • Stephen

      Leo, I agree. This site is a pain in the a** to navigate now.

      Like 0
  5. scott m

    Find another thunderbird and have some fun

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  6. Mr. TKD

    Dale Earnhardt Jr cuts the bodies off his cars and puts them in the woods on his property.

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  7. Charles H.

    It looks to have sat out in the elements over the years, think this may have been displayed on the roof of the old Red Rocks Cafe, in Mooresville, N.C.?…..not positively sure on that…..but I do believe it has sat out in the weather for several years, by the way the paint and decals are faded…..think I would at least make it so it would roll, if for nothing else, to make it easier to move around.

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  8. Rando

    As for your question about old racers – they used to have an auction in Charlotte area where the teams would auction off old cars and parts. This was before the collectibility craze hit. You could buy a couple year old car, repaint it, put the engine of your choice in and go racing at your local track. My guy had an old Tommy Ellis BGN car bought the same way. One guy had a Pontiac Aero Coupe bought at the auction. And so on.

    Racing Champions even did a series of 1/64 cars that came with a 1″ square of “real sheet metal” from the actual car (supposedly). I owned a hobby shop at the time and we saw all kinds of this stuff. Living North of Charlotte, we were close the “action” so to speak. There are a lot of garages around these parts with fading paint sheet metal parts on the walls.

    In the early 90s before the transporters got so big and fancy, the teams would be racing at North Wilkesboro, for example. And somewhere within an hour’s drive, they would have the “show car” on display. If the main car got wrecked, the “show car” would be hauled over and the good engine installed and it would be raced.

    Ahhh the good ol days….

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    • Charles H.

      Those were indeed the good ol days, Rando!…..I remember back in the mid 80’s, I think it was when Cale Yarborough was racing the Hardee’s sponsored car, and he wrecked the primary car during practice, or qualifiying, so they went down to the local Hardee’s, where they were displaying their show car, and took it and actually won the race with it!

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  9. jimbosidecar

    Years ago I bought Bobby Rahal’s 3 year old 1985 March-Truesports car and prepped it and went racing in it. Back then in both Nascar and IndyCar there were series that allowed older cars to race. It was a cheap way to get into racing.

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  10. racer-bob

    If you are an ebay race car listings enthusiast as I am, you will note there are many such old nascar chassis for sale cheap, many are pretty complete and some even have engines. I am contemplating finding and old 1960’s notchback mustang, still available cheap and putting the 2 together for some on track fun. Here is a link to a forum where a guy did this very thing with an old Chevelle and it came out really cool. http://www.corner-carvers.com/forums/showthread.php?t=46268

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  11. Mark-A

    Personally I’d love to do similar to what Hot Rod Garage did, except that they did it the other way round & put a Nascar Chassis under a modified Monte Carlo but if you have the means & desire anything’s possible I suppose?

    Like 0

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