One Old Tow Truck and Many Fond Memories

ONE OLD TOW TRUCK AND MANY FOND MEMORIES CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- With Father's Day around the corner, many fathers and sons will reflect on the special times they have shared. For some it may be an annual fishing trip, for others it may be...

ONE OLD TOW TRUCK AND MANY FOND MEMORIES

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- With Father's Day around the corner, many fathers and sons will reflect on the special times they have shared. For some it may be an annual fishing trip, for others it may be spending the first day of hunting season together in the woods. For Ken Schrader, the special times with his father centered around their passion for auto racing, a passion symbolized by a tow truck. A tow truck? Although it seems unlikely that the driver of the Skoal Racing Monte Carlo #33 on NASCAR's premier racing circuit would reminisce about a tow truck, it wasn't just any tow truck. This was his father's 1955 Ford, which the son found a few years back in a Midwest salvage yard. Schrader, originally from Fenton, Mo., had been looking for the tow truck for quite some time, but his search was motivated by sentimental value, not monetary value. "I went to the races with my dad for as long as I can remember and it was always such a thrill to ride to the races in that tow truck with him," Schrader revealed. Schrader's father, Bill, who passed away in 1994, was an accomplished short track racer in the Midwest. In addition to loving racing, he also loved old automobiles. Both of Bill's passions rubbed off on his son. "My daddy was a very good racer," Schrader said. "He always ran awfully good. He was very smooth and the car always came home in one piece. He taught me a lot about racing. I always helped him when I went to the races. I was probably in the way, but he still made me feel like I was contributing something." Many race cars and race tracks later, Schrader became one of the nation's top race drivers. He has won in nearly every division he raced over the past quarter century, including NASCAR's Winston Cup circuit. Ironically, the years of fame and fortune made Schrader appreciate the old cars more. "Years ago, I used to dream about having a brand new car," said Schrader. "Back then I couldn't afford to own a new car and I was forced to drive all these beat up old cars. Now I choose to drive old cars and tinker on them in my free time." One of the vehicles Schrader has been tinkering with is his father's tow truck. "My daddy got rid of that tow truck a long time ago," said Schrader. "Since I had so many great memories of the times I spent with my father in that tow truck, I decided to track it down and get it back in the Schrader family. "I called up a buddy of mine and he was able to trace it back to a junk yard in the Midwest. The guy at the junk yard was still using it, but he had no problem selling it back to me." Schrader arranged for the tow truck to be transported to his home in North Carolina and he has been restoring it ever since. "I don't get to spend as much time working on it as I would like to," admitted Schrader. "It's a good thing I'm not in a hurry because we've been restoring it for a few years now. We just had the cable replaced on it, so it's actually fully functional now. "We painted it white and red, which is how it used to be. It was also blue at one time, but I liked white better. It really needs the seat recovered with new leather, but I have decided to leave it for now because that is the seat cover my daddy last put on it. Other than that, it is almost fully restored." While racing at Lowe's Motor Speedway in May, Schrader drove his 1955 Ford tow truck to the race track. Parked outside the garage area, it gathered quite a bit of attention from race fans and fellow competitors. One person in particular was especially moved at the sight of the tow truck. "That was the first time my mother had seen the tow truck back to its somewhat original condition," said Schrader. "She was really proud to see it. I think she actually teared up. I'm sure she has a lot of memories that include that tow truck, just the way I do. I'm looking forward to making some memories of my own in that same tow truck." This Father's Day, Schrader will head to the race track without his father, but the fond memories of trips to the races seated alongside his dad in a red and white 1955 Ford tow truck will be fresh in his mind.

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Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Ken Schrader