Aladdin’s cave, Harvick-style

A small staircase in the corner of the Kevin Harvick, Inc. shop leads to a NASCAR treasure trove.

If you’re lucky enough to ever get a chance, climb the stairs and, once at the top, open the door and flip on the light. Firesuits will be the first thing you see – rows and rows of firesuits. They are hanging nice and tidy, straight ahead and to the right.

Once you make your way past the firesuits, there are plastic bins. Some are on shelves. Others are stacked on top of each other against the wall. It’s easy to know what is in each bin; just look at the label on the lid or the side.

In all, there are 375 firesuits and 60 bins of diecast cars. All of which belong to Kevin Harvick from his 20-plus-year NASCAR career.


“From the beginning, we’ve always tried to save a suit and the helmets because 10, 15 years down the road, you’re going to be happy you did it,” Harvick tells RACER. “It really started to show the benefits of saving when we put the (NASCAR) Hall of Fame stuff together with the display they have there right now with the cars and helmets and trophies. Being able to be organized, save it and know where it’s at, we’re mostly there, but as we go through the years with Keelan and Piper’s stuff [ED: Harvick’s children] and everything that happened with the retirement run last year, there’s a lot of new stuff that has to be inventoried.

“But for the most part, it’s organized.”

The organization is the most impressive part of Harvick’s collection. The bins aren’t just labeled with a number (box no.2, box no.43 and so on) but list which diecast cars are inside. Harvick has the sample or proof design cars that had to be approved for the diecast to be made and sold.

The firesuits are also tagged. Harvick has at least one firesuit for every design he wore.

Then comes the spreadsheets. When the need for a firesuit or particular diecast arises, the spreadsheet will show its location. It makes for easy retrieval and retrospection.

“It does, and the firesuit stuff is a little overwhelming,” Harvick said. “You have to go to the inventory sheet to figure out which one was what. Richard Childress has had a big influence on this because he has stuff everywhere at his house and shop, and so he was always a big proponent of saving stuff. Eddie Jarvis, who worked for Tony Stewart, was big (about) coming over with Tony’s suits or helmets that he raced or won in or (it was) the first time or last time. He’d come over and say, ‘Hey, you need to put this somewhere.’ People like that have helped put it all together.

“But having it all out and around creates a good conversation with Keelan when he does something, or we’re going somewhere or watching a race on TV. I’ve been fortunate to have had a lot of success, and it is fun to go back and see all the stuff. You hear all the stories about guys who don’t have a suit or a helmet or can’t find a picture or this or that. Obviously, we can’t keep everything, but I think we can find stuff from different parts of my career that represent that time period. It’s something you put your whole life into. So, it’s fun to be able to go back and reminisce and see all that stuff.”

Harvick’s mother, JoNell, was big into keeping things. A lot of the pieces were brought to North Carolina from her home. DeLana Harvick [ED: Kevin’s wife] was known to keep on top of all things Harvick during his NASCAR tenure.

Kelly Cotton, who works for Harvick, has done a lot to help organize and inventory the items. The same can be said of Cindy Windsor, who pulled up the Excel spreadsheets and pointed out the different category tabs.

“It takes everybody,” Harvick says. “There’s so much it takes everybody to remember where everything is at.”

The room feels never-ending, going from one thing to another. It’s hard to know where to look next; a struggle of feeling like you’ve already spent too much time in spot but flipping through one more firesuit because you remember watching that exact race.

It’s a peek into a world you shouldn’t have been allowed in.

There are race-worn shoes, gloves and steering wheels. During Harvick’s final season, he gifted a steering wheel from each race to friends and rivals, but he kept the one from his final race at Phoenix Raceway.

How about hero cards and posters from Harvick’s early racing career? You’ll find those. NASCAR Scene (the weekly newspaper) issues dating back to the early 2000s? They have a bin, too. There is even a karting magazine from 1980 and programs from the 1990s.

The collection extends to things sent to the race shop. It was cataloged if Harvick was on the cover or included in the issue.

Harvick has kept other items that aren’t from his career. Some bins contain personal things from his childhood: class photos, yearbooks, wrestling photos, programs and medals, and even school assignments like a book of poems.

One piece of notebook paper is in a protective sleeve, the assignment being “my first memory.” Harvick wrote about getting his first go-kart. All those bins are numbered and itemized as well.

Shuffling through the clothing racks brings nostalgia. A leather jacket from winning the Xfinity (Busch) Series championship (2001) and the Daytona 500 (2007). A 1980 varsity jacket from Harvick Racing. The 1998 Winston West Champion jacket. Linville Motorsports t-shirts (the team of Harvick’s late father-in-law, John Paul Linville).

Mixed into these racks is apparel from appearances Harvick made. Among them were a few baseball jerseys with Harvick’s name on the back.

“I did a hospitality appearance in 2001 at Michigan, and I’ve got a GM Goodwrench hat from my first year that actually has Muhammad Ali’s signature on it, because we did the hospitality together,” Harvick says. “Anytime I have stuff like that, I know the story, so it’s cool to be able to show people just who you’re around at certain times and the different folks that have been to races. That’s just one story of many for different pieces of memorabilia here.”

As impressive and extensive as the collection is, that’s not the end of the story. It must be noted that there is the race shop, things in storage or safes, a separate building, and what Harvick keeps in his home.

Harvick’s Hall of Fame career netted a lot of trophies. Most of them line the walls around the race shop with many pictures, but “all the really good trophies” and memorabilia are at Harvick’s house. Among those would be the Harley J. Earl trophy for winning the Daytona 500 and his championship trophies.

“I like to collect stuff,” Harvick said. “I love racing. I’ve got different driver’s helmets and different things, and it is not something we’ve typically shown off or talked about in the past. I’ve got a bunch of dicasts and helmets from different drivers. As I sit here today, I have my baseball collection and Keelan’s card collection. It’s pretty much scattered all over my office, but it’s fun to go back because now we’re organizing it. Even stuff like that we saved from when I was a kid, and we can compare what he’s doing now to what I have.

“We actually had this conversation (the other) night with Keelan and myself,” he says. “He’s like, ‘What am I going to do with all these suits when you’re not here?’ I said, ‘Well, you better keep them, or I’m going to donate them to somebody else.”

There is an entire warehouse of race cars. At his retirement party, Harvick was gifted the car he won in at Indianapolis in 2003 by Childress. In 2002, Harvick won the IROC race in Fontana and the series championship. He bought those cars when the series shuttered.

Harvick has a few cars from his wins with Stewart-Haas Racing. One of them is his 2014 championship car, which is still exactly as it was when it came off the racetrack in Miami.

“We’ve got cars from pretty much everything,” Harvick says. “I’ve got the championship Winston West car from 1998. [Ron] Hornaday restored my Southwest Series first win from 1995. So, we’ve got 18, 19, 20 of those cars and then all of Keelan’s go-kart stuff that we’ve kept throughout the years. And we’ve built some replicas of a couple of my go-karts that we tried to get close.”

Whether it’s conversation pieces or things to be passed on to his children, Harvick is grateful for every last piece. Ultimately, he would like to have some pieces from the collection on display not only on the East Coast but also out west in Bakersfield, California, where Harvick has a relationship with the ownership group of Kern County Speedway.

“It’s fun to know you have that stuff and know it’s not in the wrong hands,” Harvick says. “It’s fun to have it, and I’m glad we’ve taken the time to organize it.”

Story originally appeared on Racer