7/23/2013 7:56:00 AM Honoring Hotshots Prescott Valley man redesigns racecar to honor fallen firefighters
At Prescott Valley Raceway on Saturday, Phil Baillie and his friend Alicia Owens, the fiancée of fallen Granite Mountain Hotshot Wade Parker, stand next to Baillie’s IMCA modified racecar that honors the 19 Hotshots who died while battling the Yarnell Hill fire on June 30.
Photo courtesy Matt Hinshaw/The Daily Courier
Phil Baillie figured the most appropriate way he could honor the 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots who died fighting the Yarnell Hill fire June 30 was to redesign the exterior of his racecar in their memory.
Baillie of Prescott Valley, a close friend of the fiancée of fallen fireman Wade Parker, spent at least eight hours on Friday night and early Saturday applying a tribute design package on his black International Motor Contest Association (IMCA) Modified.
"Basically, I just got in contact with a design company in Arkansas (New Vision Graphics) about two hours after what happened (the tragedy)," Baillie said Saturday from Prescott Valley Raceway. "Pretty much, we were waiting on all the names of the firefighters. Then after that, they designed it for me and shipped it out here. It came in probably 20 pieces."
Although he didn't run the car over the weekend because his class won't be on the PVR race card until next Saturday, Baillie, 24, displayed the vehicle near the grandstands in front of the racetrack's permanent memorial sign for the firemen.
Alicia Owens, Parker's 21-year-old fiancée, and her family met up with Baillie to thank him personally for the tribute car. Now a standout driver, Baillie once went to school with Parker, whose family also was in attendance at PVR on Saturday.
"It's really cool - it's definitely awesome to see people doing things like this for us," Owens said of Baillie's efforts. "It means a lot."
As fans streamed in to watch the races on Saturday, several of them had their pictures taken by the car. In addition, many of them donated money to Prescott Firefighters' Charities, which is helping the families of the fallen firefighters by selling memorial T-shirts and Granite Mountain Hotshots decals.
"I hope they raise a lot of money for all the families and help out anyone they can," Baillie said. "And the support of the racetrack is all there, you know?"
As for Baillie's racecar, he received some assistance in redoing it from a co-worker, Jason Laseter of PV, and his dad, Marty Baillie, 49. They had to line up all the decals so they flowed together properly, which became the trickiest task.
"It turned out great," Laseter said. "It was all Phil, though. It was his idea, and he wanted to do it. I was more than willing to help him out to make it look good for everybody, and for him."
Added Marty of Chino Valley, "This was the first time we did a whole wrap (on a racecar), so it was an experience for us."
Phil's 16-foot long by 7-foot wide racer, one equipped with a small-block 8-cylinder, 500-horsepower Chevy 377 engine, not only got its number changed, from the original No. 85 to the No. 19. The names of the 19 firefighters who perished also are printed on the middle panels on both sides of the car with the words "In Memory of" above them.
This vehicle also features circular decals on the right and left side panels, as well as the hood, with the words "Last Alarm: Heroes Remembered" on them.
And along the side panels, extending from the rear to the middle of the racer, are large prints of the Arizona flag that blend into ones of the American flag.
In an added touch, the back bumper has a "19" on it with the Internet hash tag "#PRESCOTT STRONG."
Phil, who works for Printpack, Inc., in Prescott Valley, has been racing for six years. Born in Lake Havasu City, he later moved with his family to Chino Valley, where he spent about 20 years of his life until relocating to PV.
This past Tuesday night, his maternal grandfather, Leo Williams, who initially got him involved in racing at age 16, passed away.
"He would just want me to carry on doing what I love," Phil said.
Williams would also no doubt want his grandson to continue doing selfless deeds, such as the redesign of his racecar. "I think it's for a good cause," Phil said.
"And if you don't know any of the firefighters specifically in this tight of a community, you know someone that knows of them. It kind of affected the entire community. To me, it brought everyone closer together."