Michael McDowell Rescues Rental Car From Tow Truck’s Grasp

Photos by Jerry Jordan/Kickin' the Tires

By Jerry Jordan, Editor
LOUDON, N.H. – Perhaps Martin Truex Jr. could have gotten away with parking his Toyota in Space 78 in the media lot at New Hampshire Motor Speedway but when Michael McDowell parked his rental there, the NASCAR media’s version of the parking police, a.k.a. Jim Utter, leapt into action.

Utter, who is somehow the most unfortunate media member on the circuit when it comes to people parking in his assigned spot, is no stranger to having parking scofflaws towed. It’s happened before at Darlington.

For Utter, it’s simple, it’s his space and he wants it, even if it is more than three hours before the race. Of course, tracks assign spaces for a reason and those reserved passes aren’t easy to come by, so no one can blame Utter for defending his turf.

“Park in your assigned spot,” Utter said.

McDowell, who thought he was safe with an “official” pass, is not exempt from the rules. Fortunately, just as the tow truck hooked onto his Chevrolet Trax AWD and began pulling it up the flatbed, he came walking up. McDowell said he didn’t realize he was committing a media misdemeanor and was allowed to rescue his ride before it was towed and stored somewhere in the backwoods of southern New Hampshire.

“Not trying to … they had it hooked up towing it,” McDowell said, as the driver/crew chief meeting was about to begin. “You know, obviously, it was a media spot, so I had an official parking pass and thought that an official parking pass was good, officially anywhere but I guess it’s not.”

McDowell also pointed out that at the time he parked there were “a lot of empty spots” in the media parking lot. However, by the time that Utter rolled in, many of those spots had been taken – including his own.

“I figured there were 30 empty spots, I’m sure everyone will be accommodated,” he said. “I didn’t realize they were assigned to particular spots for particular people. I’m not that important to have to worry about a thing like that.”

The fact McDowell is a driver in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series would lead some, including Utter, to believe the driver might have a better parking spot than media members but with that burning question cleared up, at least, he was a good sport about it.

“Yeah, I would think a driver might have a better place to park,” Utter said.

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