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Tebow ‘Steals’ Waltrip’s Car

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, March 7 2010
Darrell Waltrip, seen here doing a TV interview with Brian Vickers, had an airport parking surprise recently. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Darrell Waltrip, seen here doing a TV interview with Brian Vickers, had an airport-parking surprise recently. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)

By Larry Woody | Senior Writer

Nashville – Fox Sports analyst Darrell Waltrip flew home from calling the recent race at Las Vegas to discover his car missing from the airport’s private parking lot.

Long story short: Tim Tebow, in town for a workout, had parked his car next to DW’s. In the dark lot, Tebow’s party mistook the two black luxury autos. Waltrip’s car door was unlocked, and with a push-button starter it was easy to crank up and drive away.

When Waltrip reported the “theft,” an embarrassed airport employee immediately realized what had happened and contacted Tebow.

Waltrip got his SUV back the next day, but not before being tempted to play a joke on Tebow.

“I was going to call the police, have them pull Tebow over, and scare the heck out of him,” Waltrip told Nashville Tennessean columnist Joe Biddle who has followed racing since his days with the Daytona Beach News Journal. “I wanted them to tell him that I knew he was a fine Christian boy, but that he couldn’t just steal people’s cars.”

Waltrip’s wife Stevie talked him out of the prank.

“She said it would embarrass him,” DW said, “and I didn’t want to do that.”

The story had a happier ending than one that Waltrip experienced several years ago. His crew had parked his familiar No. 88 Gatorade Chevy in front of a local motel where they were staying following a Grand National race at Fairgrounds Speedway. The next morning it was gone.

A local radio DJ had some fun with it, advising the cops to broadcast, “Car 88, where are you?” – a spin-off of the old “Car 54 Where Are You?” TV show.

Darrell didn’t find it amusing. His race car was never recovered.

Harry Gant was the victim of a similar theft following a race at the Fairgrounds. His entire racing rig – car, hauler and tools – was stolen from a motel parking lot.

“I got up the next morning and looked out in the parking lot and my car was gone,” Gant said. “At first I thought some of the boys had moved it for some reason. I walked into their room and asked them why they’d moved and car and where had they put it? They jumped up and went running outside, and that’s when I realized it had been stolen.”

There were reports that Gant’s car – or parts of it – were later found in an infamous East Tennessee “chop shop.”

Gant said the loss “just about ended my racing career. Everything I owned, race-wise, was gone – my car, hauler, tools and spare engines. It took me several years to recover.”

Unfortunately for Gant, his missing car – unlike Waltrip’s most recent episode – wasn’t just a case of mistaken auto identity.

– Larry Woody can be reached at lwoody@racintoday.com

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, March 7 2010
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