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Monday, August 15, 2016

Kevin Lepage #71 Vermont Teddy Bear Chevrolet

    Well hello there, and welcome back to the NASCAR Racing Champions diecast blog~ In today's post, I'm going to be coming back into "reality" with a car that was actually produced by Racing Champions~ That car is the #71 Vermont Teddy Bear Chevrolet, owned and driven by Kevin Lepage~

    I really enjoyed this car when I would get to see him race it at Bristol~ I had never seen a car with quite the same paint scheme as this one, and I thought it looked pretty amazing out there~ I was sad that he missed the race once at Bristol, but I still got to see him during qualifying~ Kevin's actually a pretty cool guy, he's talked to me a little on Twitter when I'd ask him a question, or post a photo of him, and he's always been more than happy to answer me, or respond in some way~

    I'm dedicating this post to my wife, because this is her favorite car, since she's a huge TY Beanie Baby fan, and only collects the bears~ This is the closest thing there is to a TY Beanie car, for now at least~ ;) So let's get into this thing and see what ol' Kevin did during his time in the #71 Vermont Teddy Bear Chevrolet~

                                                       Custom Kevin Lepage hero card~
Kevin Lepage #71 Teddy Bear Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog BGN 1995

    Kevin ran his first race in the Vermont Teddy Bear car in the second race of the 1994 BGN season @ Rockingham in the Goodwrench 200~ He attempted to make the season opener @ Daytona, but DNQ'd~ Lepage started 27th at Rockingham, but his engine gave out only 50 laps into the race, and he finished in 37th place~ He fared much better the following week in the Hardee's Frisco 250 @ Richmond, picking up a 12th place finish~ He would then fail to qualify for the Busch Light 300 @ Atlanta~

    In the NE Chevy 250 @ New Hampshire, 65 drivers attempted to make the 44 car field, and Lepage started the race in 21st~ He led for a total of 7 laps during the race, marking the first time in his NASCAR career he'd ever done that, and finished in 9th place, for his first career top 10~ He would have finished better, but he got a flat tire with 2 laps to go, and just parked the car to prevent damaging it~ Derrike Cope actually won the race, with his very underfunded #82 Sports World Ford, picking up his only BGN career victory~

    To say the least, Kevin Lepage had a pretty lackluster season from here on out, only finishing in the top 15 one more time, with a 15th place finish in the Fays 150 @ Watkins Glen~ He also failed to qualify for 5 events (Goody's 300 - Daytona, Busch Light 300 - Atlanta, Champion 300 - Charlotte, Ford Credit 300 - South Boston, and the Pantry 300 @ Hickory), picking up the lone top 10 @ New Hampshire, and finishing 24th in the final points standings~

                                                 Lepage's car sits as the track is being dried~
Kevin Lepage #71 Teddy Bear Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog BGN 1995

   Vermont Teddy Bear remained with the team for the 1995 BGN season, and while Lepage did improve, he again failed to qualify for the season opening Goody's 300 @ Daytona~ He finished 18th in his first start of the season in the Goodwrench 200 @ Rockingham, and 19th in the Hardee's 250 @ Richmond~ He qualified 31st in the Mark III Vans 200 @ Darlington, but charged his way to his first top 10 of the season, with a 9th place effort~

    He would then fail to qualify for the Goody's 250 @ Bristol~ I was there that day, and I was so sad that he didn't make it into the race~ If you ever saw this car in person, on the track.. you know how awesome it looked~ I was looking forward to seeing him in the race, and he let me down~ I would get my chance later in the season, though~ :)

    Lepage picked up another top 10 in the Red Dog 300 @ Charlotte, with a 10th place finish~ He qualified a season high of 4th in the Carolina Pride/Red Dog 250 @ Myrtle Beach, and led his only laps (4) of the season during the race, however he would only muster a 21st place finish~ He got another top 10 finish in the Ford Credit 300 @ South Boston, finishing 10th in the event~

                                           Signed hero card featuring Kevin with the car~
Kevin Lepage #71 Teddy Bear Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog BGN 1995

    In the Food City 250 @ Bristol, I finally got my chance to see the car in person again, and Lepage didn't let me down, scoring his best finish of the season with an 8th place run~ I was so proud of him~ He notched his final top 10 of the season at the AC-Delco 200 @ Rockingham, where he finished in 10th place~

   Kevin finished the 1995 BGN season with 0 poles, 0 wins, 0 top 5's, and 5 top 10's, while failing to qualify for two races~ He also improved to 18th place in the final points standings~  Vermont Teddy Bear left NASCAR after the season, but did sponsor him in the season opening 1996 Goody's 300, as a kind of consolation prize~ He qualified 7th for the race, in a black and gold #71 Vermont Teddy Bear Chevrolet, which looked much different than the familiar teal and purple car he'd always driven~

    He was involved in a lap 21 crash that also involved Jason Keller, Todd Bodine, Doug Heveron, Andy Hillenburg, Hermie Sadler, and Joe Bessey~ Lepage's car was demolished, and he finished 45th in the 46 car field~ He ran the 5 races in an un-sponsored car, before picking up a one race deal with Piggly Wiggly for the Goody's 250 @ Bristol, where he finished 23rd~ He ran the remainder of the season (minus the season finale) in the #88 Farmer's Choice Fertilizer car~ Kevin won the season finale Jiffy Lube Miami 300 @ Homestead driving the #88 Hype Chevrolet, in his first race with the new sponsor~

                                         Kevin Lepage #71 Vermont Teddy Bear Chevrolet~
Kevin Lepage #71 Teddy Bear Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog BGN 1995
                                                               Click pics to enlarge~
Kevin Lepage #71 Teddy Bear Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog BGN 1995
                                  *BONUS* Kevin's #71 Piggly Wiggly custom from Bristol~
Kevin Lepage #71 Piggly Wiggly Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog BGN 1996 Bristol

    Alright, let's get down to the meat and potatoes of this post... the beautiful car~ Although this is my wife's favorite car, it's pretty high up there on my list as well~ I wish it was done on the previous body style however, as I don't like the bigger tires of the 1995 and beyond series~ That's what junky ol' "Premiers" were for~ :P

    I'm also not a fan of this card style~ I don't wanna pay for 1/2 a card.. gimmie full color.. over the entire card!~ I wish I was around back then to smack whoever came up with this idea in the back of the head~ Sorry about that little tangent, but I just get mad about this card style~ Even the picture of Kevin looks dumb.. they could have used a much better picture than one of him turned sideways, to where you can only see 1/2 of his face... and I wanna see the car on there~

   The paint job on the car is spot on, and you can just imagine the little guy taking off, and racing down the track~ If you purchase this car on Ebay, it usually varies anywhere from 5-10 bucks after shipping costs, so my advice would be to try and find it somewhere locally before you go to Ebay, unless you have to have one right away.. because they are kinda hard to find out in the wild~

   I hope you've enjoyed my recent posts, as well as this one~ Special thanks to my friend Jeff for teaching me how to get these out of the packaging without damaging the package~ Until I knew how to do that, I had to just wait till I got a double of a car before I could do a post on it~ lol~ Below is some footage I found on Kevin's NASCAR career, enjoy, and thanks again for stopping back in to check out the NASCAR Racing Champions Blog!~ Please share this post on Twitter, Facebook, etc.. it only takes a few seconds, and it helps the blog reach more Racing Champions/Old NASCAR history fans~ :)

                                    Lepage's crash in the last Teddy Bear car~ 1996 Daytona~
                                                           And then, that happened~

                                        What's your opinion on the crash?~ Here's Kevin's~

                                   End it on a good note~ 1996 Homestead~ First career win~


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