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Troy Gentry grips the steering wheel of his black 2002 Corvette convertible. The sleek vehicle vibrates softly as he banks it into a curve at Nashville Speedway. Glancing in his rearview mirror, Troy seeks a familiar car.
Eddie Montgomery, in his black 2003 BMW Z4, is crowding Troy's bumper. Edging closer, Eddie shifts to the inside of the track, punches the accelerator and darts past Troy, grinning as he stretches the lead. The 'Vette's image recedes in Eddie's rearview mirror.
Those Montgomery Gentry boys are doing what they do best -- having a blast.
"We had a great time," beams Troy after their speedway run. "Eddie and I are big NASCAR fans, so to take our cars out on a racetrack -- and see what they can do -- was an amazing experience.
Troy puffs up his chest. "I was the aggressive driver on the track," he says.
"Bulls--t," punctuates Eddie with a laugh. "T-Roy's lyin'. He knows who was in charge out there. If we hadn't been in our own cars, I'da ran up behind him and bumped his ass. I thought about bumping him, then I remembered we have to sing tomorrow night and decided I'd better not put him into a wall."
Troy roars. "We had such a great time. When we were done, we said we either had to buy our own car for Busch series racing or buy a couple of Legends cars so we could race 'em."
Eddie nods. "Going around the track was incredible. I'd always wanted to do that. I'm thinking me and T have to get a NASCAR race car. I want to get in one, buckle up, slap on the helmet, lay down on the gas and let her roll."
Troy and Eddie might not agree on which one of them is the edgier racetrack driver, but they agree on who they'd each like to race. Their targets are two country superstars who've made a name racing Legends cars.
"I want Ronnie Dunn and Kix Brooks on a track," reveals Eddie. "I want to put them into a wall."
Troy grins. "We'd be as competitive with those guys in a race," he adds diplomatically, "as we are in the music business."
Eddie pushes diplomacy aside. "If we race 'em," he insists, "they're gone. Bumpin' is just part of racing, so they'd better get ready to be bumped."
Eddie busts into a grin. "Now we love Ronnie and Kix to death -- and we'd steal anything we can steal from 'em -- but, when it comes to race night, they're going down!"
Eddie and Troy's fascination with speed didn't begin with their recent smash single, "Speed." It began years earlier, when they were growing up in Kentucky.
"From the time I was a kid, the Corvette was my dream car," confesses Troy. "I had a Camaro, which was as close as I could get to the Corvette. But I always told myself one day I'd buy a brand new 'Vette. Thanks to the fans who've supported Montgomery Gentry, I was able to do that. Now in 10 years and 124 more payments, it's all mine.
"Since it's black and has a black interior," continues Troy, "I call it the Batmobile. I've always been a Batman fan. In fact, the key on the 'Vette's key chain sports a Batman logo. My next step will be to find one of the movie Batmobiles and buy it."
No superhero sparked Eddie's quest for his dream car. But a superspy did. "As a kid, I was a real James Bond fan," he says. "Still am. So having my BMW 'Bond car' is unbelievable."
Eddie was actually looking for a car for his daughter when he drove the Z4. "I drove it and had to have it," he recalls. "And I've only got 600 more payments on it!" he jokes.
"Heck, buying a car on payments is the way I've always bought my cars. And it's how country people -- working men and women -- buy their cars. It's not, 'How much does it cost?' It's, 'How low's that payment?' "
And now Eddie is setting his sights on a car that's definitely not new.
"I've owned a bunch of muscle cars over the years," he explains. "And now I want a '68 Challenger, like the one in the Steve McQueen movie Bullitt. Steve drove a Shelby Mustang Fastback, but there was this so-cool Challenger."
With the hit "Speed" now in radio's rearview mirror, Montgomery Gentry's latest single, "Hell Yeah," is streaking up the charts like Jeff Gordon's smokin' No. 24 race car.
"We recorded the song because it's about everyday people who need to escape the business world," declares Troy. "They want to get out and have a good time and let their hair down. It's a feel-good song every blue-collar worker can relate to. And it reflects our hardworking fans."
Eddie agrees. "The crowds love it 'cause the lyrics talk about a guy working his butt off outside and a gal who went to college and now she's bustin' her butt in an office. We're always gonna sing about the working class -- the folks who keep this country going."
"The line that gets to me when I'm singing it," adds Troy, "is the one about the guy losing his brother in Vietnam. Eddie and I have always been big supporters of our military, and you can't say enough about our Vietnam veterans. They're the ones who've had the least respect and pats on the back. America sent them over there to do a job and they did it. When they came back, they didn't get their parades."
"Troy and I will always sing about our military heroes," underscores Eddie. "They keep our freedoms alive and let us say, do and be anything we want to be. And we'll keep pointing out how our police officers and firefighters do one helluva job -- and that they deserve our respect."
With their day at the Nashville Speedway behind them, Troy and Eddie weigh in on other favorite things -- other than speeding around a racetrack -- that they like to do in their cars.
"I love to put the top down, turn the music up loud and drive anywhere," admits Troy. "Having the wind hit me in the face is real relaxing to me. It's peaceful, a way to escape reality a little bit. The CDs I've been playing loud lately are Lisa Marie Presley, Aerosmith and jazz artist Diana Krall."
Eddie smiles. "My favorite thing to do in the car is drive fast. I ain't gonna lie about it. I love to drive a car with a lot of power, and, when you got power, you gotta use it.
"I fly down the road thinking, 'It's Bond -- James Bond, baby!' "
-- Larry Holden