CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – The hardest thing about growing up is getting rid of all your toys along the way.
A Charlotte man still adds to the collection he started as a boy.
“A lot of cars have a story,” said Charlie Haywood, explaining the sentimental value of his vast die-cast car collection.
Life comes at you fast.
Haywood fights for pole position in a race to remember some of auto racing’s greatest moments.
“We have those memories that are connected to them,” he told Queen City News.
In the comfort of home, he balances his need for speed with the need to feel like a kid again.
“Anything with an engine, ha-ha,” said Charlie.
His address might as well be Penske Way. He actually has that street sign hanging over his fireplace.
“Trevor Bayne cars up here — those are from his Daytona 500 win,” he explained, pointing to memorabilia.
Let’s cut to Chase Elliott.
Charlie’s memorabilia includes some two thousand vehicles.
“That’s a really cool car,” Charlie said, holding the car that takes him back to driver Ryan Blaney’s wild 2018 finish at the Bank of America Roval 400 in Charlotte.
“Whoo! Hell yeah (expletive)!” Blaney said as he roared past the finish line. “That was awesome!”
Leaders Martin Truex, Jr. and Jimmie Johnson spun out a short time earlier, paving the way for Blaney’s improbable victory.
“It takes me back to that moment,” he said. “Like I can feel the emotion that I felt.”
Haywood’s autographed Joey Lagano car commemorates a run at Rockingham.
“My dad went as a photographer. This was the last race he shot; that’s why this car has always been significant to me,” he said. “So that’s really where the passion comes from.”
Haywood grew up seeing the sport through his daddy’s lens.
Four years ago, the fanatic found another gear. He often positions the cars in his backyard and takes pictures of them on a small race track background that his roommate built for him.
Like Haywood’s father, the Charlotte grad loves photography. He shares images of his collection as @unccdiecastboi on Instagram.
“You kind of educate them a little bit about history, and so it’s nice; sometimes people teach me things,” said Haywood.
With so many collectibles, there are plenty of photo opportunities.
Haywood says shooting photos for his Instagram page has become such a passion that it’s inspired him to change career lanes. He’d love to work as a digital content creator for a racing-related company.
His entire apartment is a celebration of life in the fast lane. But what we found upstairs took us on a stroll down memory lane. Up in his closet, there’s a small box that might as well be a time machine.
“2011-2012 season, the first one we have is the David Ragan ‘Where’s Waldo?’ car,” he said, showing us his earliest examples.
As a child, he let the good times roll. We noticed how he meticulously arranged them on his desk.
“I always had the cars on the rug while the race is on TV; you know I’m racing down here,” Haywood said.
The die-cast die-hard has yet to outgrow them. Each car is a snapshot of his checkered flag past.
“Zoom in a little closer, just to capture different elements of the design,” he said.