TAMPA, FL (WFLA) – Some people crave attention and some just like to tinker. Others are sold on making a good investment. There are all kinds of reasons why people are driven to collect classic cars. Mike and Judy Gaylor are downright fanatical about it. They have an eclectic collection of cars in their Tampa Bay area garage, but their favorite is a race car once driven to victory by Tony Stewart.
In 2007, Stewart won three races in the bright orange number #20 Home Depot Monte Carlo. When the owner Joe Gibbs racing decided to sell the car it was if a green flag dropped for Mike Gaylor. Six months later he was driving to victory lane. “There’s a fine line between persistent and being a pest and I guess I passed the persistence test,” said Mike. Tony Stewart even agreed to meet Mike and Judy when they took possession of the car. Stewart gave Judy and a big hug and then signed the hood of their new prized possession.
Mike won’t say how much he paid for the car. To him, it is priceless. His love for cars started after high school when he bought his first Model-A Ford. Today he restores all kinds of cars. He currently has six show worthy automobiles in his collection including a 1935 Studebaker Cabriolet, 1936 Cord Westchester and a 1932 Auburn Boat Tail Speedster. But in his garage nothing compares to his #20 Monte Carlo.
Mike wants to add one of Tony Stewart’s #14 Impalas to his collection. He showed off a front bumper he bought from one of Stewart’s newer race cars. It hangs near the ceiling overlooking the #20 Monte Carlo. “I’ve got a ways to go,” said, Gaylor.
Collectors with the passion and the where-with-all can make their wildest dreams come true and sometimes the dreams of those with whom they share them with. As I climbed into Stewart’s former racecar I couldn’t help but to utter those famous words: “Drivers, start your engines.” For a moment, in my minds eye, I am racing like a Sprint Cup champion.