JR Hildebrand thought he was walking into the Panther Racing garage for just another morning full of meetings, little did he know a huge surprise was in store for him. The conclusion of the 2011 Indy 500 for JR Hildebrand was a rough one, but he never let it show and Panther Racing wanted to reward JR for his professionalism. When John Barnes (Panther Racing co-owner) ran across JR’s dream car in perfect condition, he knew it would be the best way to show his appreciation.
JR has been storing a Trans-Am he got from his dad in high school at the Panther garages. The team told JR they had “fixed it up” and wanted to show it to him. They unveiled the Trans-Am (not in any better condition) to JR and he laughed, realizing it was a joke but still not knowing exactly what was going on.
Just as Hildebrand got a good look at the Trans-Am, the garage door in the back of the shop opened and in came his 1966 Chevelle SS in mint condition. He kept taking off his hat and scratching his head; he seemed to be in disbelief. “This is the greatest thing that has ever happened,” I overheard him say.
After JR had a chance to sit in the driver seat and get a feel for his new bright red dream, he spoke on the surprise and his Indy 500 experience. He explained that he finds it “silly” that he has received so much attention for his behavior because no matter the outcome of the Indy 500 he would have carried himself the same way. At the same time, he is happy for the positive impact it has had for the team and the National Guard. “This is the coolest thing ever,” he said about his new Chevelle.
What’s your dream car?