Sometimes, a fan’s passion for his favorite driver is so contagious, that others can’t help but get caught up in the moment.
And that’s certainly the case with eight-year-old Zechariah.
One month ago at Homestead-Miami Speedway, the Lionel Racing team got to know Zechariah and his father Chad. In fact, our team was so touched by Zechariah’s love of Michael McDowell, that we managed to arrange a surprise meet and greet between Zechariah and his favorite driver.
It was a moment the Lionel Racing team will never forget – and you can watch it all in the above video.
But it turns out, Zechariah’s excitement and the video above inspired others in the NASCAR collector community to go one step further.
“Since it was uploaded, the video has been seen by a few thousand race fans, and one of those fans saw an opportunity to help make Zechariah’s experience even more memorable,” Zechariah’s father Chad said.
In mid-December, the Racing Warehouse posted a few pieces of sheet metal from McDowell’s Miami race car on its Facebook page. One of the pieces put up for sale was the driver side door frame from McDowell’s top-10 finishing race car that included the big number 59. This was the same door frame that Zechariah watched go by in the photo at the top of this story, which McDowell autographed for his young fan at Homestead.
Chad told us that he wasn’t a member of the Racing Warehouse Facebook page, but his friends in the NASCAR community helped him get in contact with the page administrators. In the meantime, Chad began receiving message after message from complete strangers who wanted to help Zechariah get that piece of sheet metal.
One of the messages was from a gentleman named Ben. In his message, Ben told Chad that he would contact the Racing Warehouse, purchase the piece of sheet metal, and have it sent to Zechariah in order to guarantee that Zechariah gets it. A few hours later, Chad received the message that the item was sold, and that Ben was able to complete the purchase of the door frame from McDowell’s car for Zechariah.
Chad immediately requested an email address from Ben in order to pay him back for his kindness. Ben politely declined and, in his response, mentioned that a few collectors reached out to him and that between the group, the sheet metal was paid for. To quote the message he sent in reply, it simply said “We got it. Merry Christmas to you and your family”.
It didn’t end there. The folks from Racing Warehouse found out who the sheet metal had been purchased for. Shortly after, a member of the Racing Warehouse group sent Chad a note saying that they sent Zechariah not just the door frame from McDowell’s top-10 finishing car in Miami, but also the door frame from the backup car McDowell had in Miami as well saying “if it puts a smile on your son’s face for Christmas, it will make our day”.
Said Zechariah’s father Chad, “The NASCAR community is unlike any other community. Time and time again, the NASCAR community comes together to help other collectors out, sharing Christmas joy on a monthly basis, not just in December. In this case, several members of the NASCAR community came together and helped to add a priceless, sentimental piece of history to the memories already made by an eight-year Michael McDowell fan in Miami . And in return, all they wanted in exchange for their random act of kindness was to see Zechariah’s smile when the gift arrived.”
Merry Christmas, Zechariah. And thank you for reminding us all why we’re fans of NASCAR in the first place.