Driving the Duke

DSC03519.jpg

NASCAR winner Austin Dillon takes the wheel with John Wayne painted on his No. 3 Cowboy Channel Chevy.

Written by Constance Dunn

When Austin Dillon raced his red and black Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE along the oval at Watkins Glen International on August 8, he had a trusted figure at his side: The Duke. “I’ve watched John Wayne movies since I was a kid, growing up with my grandfather,” the NASCAR driver told The Cowboy Channel of the Western icon, whose image is emblazoned on the side of his stock car—in full-tilt cowboy mode with a gun blazing.

A sponsor of Dillon’s Chevy, The Cowboy Channel is a 24-hour network dedicated to Western sports and the Western lifestyle. It’s also the official home of ProRodeo, and enjoyed its coming-out at the NASCAR Cup Series race in Upstate New York, dubbed Go Bowling at The Glen. At Watkins Glen, Dillon lined up on the 16th row and made his way up the grid to secure 9th place in Stage 1 — before finishing 15th (out of 37 drivers) in the 90-lap race.

Counting John Wayne among his heroes, Dillon told The Cowboy Channel: “I probably can quote more John Wayne movies than most people out there.” Those quotes, along with Wayne’s grit, rugged individualism and willingness to break away from the pack and lead — way out in front — will no doubt serve the three-time NASCAR Cup Series winner during the rest of the season. And if you missed the John Wayne No. 3 Chevy at Watkins Glen, look for Dillon to make another appearance with the car during the Series Playoffs, beginning in September and ending in November of this year.

Headquartered at the historic Fort Worth Stockyards, The Cowboy Channel is home to a 325-seat studio where guests can watch live rodeo and Western events. Fittingly, the Stockyards are also the location of a 10,000-square-foot exhibit, John Wayne: An American Experience, which is an intimate look at Duke’s celebrated life and career.

DSC03585.jpg

Photographs courtesy of The Cowboy Channel