Tune In: Marty Robbins’ Race Car Restored
“It was like a trip back in time,” says Marty’s son, Ronny.
Country legend Marty Robbins had just as much passion for auto racing as he did for music. And tonight (Feb.4) at 8 p.m. ET fans can tap into that passion on the Velocity channel show AmeriCarna, hosted by NASCAR great Ray Evernham. The show will feature the restoration of one of Marty's old race cars, a 1964 Plymouth Belvedere, and its presentation in Nashville to Marty's son, Ronny Robbins.
Ronny, a singer himself who was briefly on the country charts, remembered working on the car as a teenager in the 1960s. “It was the first one that we built in-house. It was built in our shop on the family farm [near Nashville],” Ronny tells Country Weekly. “I was about 15 or 16 at the time. I really didn’t have much to do with building the car but I always enjoyed watching that. Mostly,” Ronny adds with a laugh, “my job was sweeping out metal plates and things.”
The car was a modified racer with a 1964 Plymouth body and Dodge engine and a 1958 Chevy frame. Marty would take it out to the Nashville Fairgrounds to compete when he was off the road. Ronny, who now runs Marty Robbins Enterprises outside of Nashville, found the car around January of 2000 in Franklin, Tenn., where the Robbins family lived.
A couple of years ago, Ray Evernham acquired what was basically left of the car and restored it at his state-of-the-art shop in North Carolina. Ray went to great pains to restore it authentically, finding parts in New Jersey and Iowa that would match the originals. “Ray made a promise that he would bring it back after the restoration and I would take it around the track again,” Ronny says.
Ray made good on the promise and unveiled the finished product last May 31 in front of Nashville honky-tonk The Stage. Fans who tune in to the AmeriCarna show will see the dramatic presentation that essentially left Ronny speechless. “They had it covered up because Ray wanted to keep me in the dark,” Ronny recalls. “When I saw the car, I just lost it. It was pretty emotional for me because I remembered being there with my dad and seeing it built. It was like a trip back in time.”
Ronny still has fond memories of sharing his love of cars with his dad. “We didn’t always see eye-to-eye on music," says Ronny, whose main interest was rock ’n’ roll. “But racing was our common bond. Some of my favorite moments were being around the track with him.” Marty, as many fans know, made 35 starts in NASCAR’s top series and held his own against some of the top drivers in the sport. “Dad was good enough to compete on that circuit,” Ronny says admiringly. “Racing wasn't just a lark for him. He was very serious about it.”
As for the AmeriCarna show Tuesday night, Ronny notes that he has not yet seen the final edit. “But I have seen some of their shows and anybody who appreciates old cars is going to like it,” he says. “I’m looking forward to it. I’m just hoping I don’t lose it again.”
Catch the Marty Robbins episode of AmeriCarna on Velocity, tonight, Feb. 4, at 8 p.m. ET.