Darryl Childress’s 2012 Dodge Challenger SRT8 was already an homage to the Caps, well before the calendar turned to April. The car is bright red — in honor of the hockey team — and the Virginia Caps-themed license plate reads CAP8LS.
That might have been that, except Childress recently had the car with him at the team’s Ballston practice facility when Tom Poti and Michal Neuvirth were leaving the building.
“Hey, y’all want to sign my car?” the 52-year old from Manassas asked on a whim. “So I got the Sharpie out, and they signed the car.”
And THAT might have been that, except that shortly after this first car-signing episode, Childress’s wife was at the team’s season-ticket holder event at Six Flags, and went to a table featuring Poti and Matt Hendricks.
“Oh, I don’t need your signature, you signed my husband’s car the other day,” she told Poti.
“You signed a car?” Hendricks asked. “I want to sign a car.”
And so one thing led to another, and Childress bought some blue and white paint pens and decided to have the entire Caps roster autograph the trunk lid of his car, which he will then remove and put in his home’s Caps shrine along with Tomas Vokoun’s pads and a host of other items, meanwhile replacing the car’s original lid with an autograph-free replacement.
Alex Ovechkin has signed the car. So has Coach Adam Oates. So have Nicklas Backstrom, Mike Green and Braden Holtby. So too have lesser-known players like Steve Oleksy, Wojtek Wolski and John Erskine.
Karl Alzner encountered the car when he was driving away from the practice facility with his mom; the blue-liner then stopped near the crowd of fans, signed just one item (a car), and departed. Hendricks fulfilled his wish, too, when Childress stopped him after practice.
“Hey Matt, my wife….” he began, ” and before I could say anything else he said, ‘Is that the car??? Cool! I’m gonna sign it!’”
“That’s a [first] for me!” Hendricks later wrote on Twitter.
The strangest part of this whole tale might be Childress’s history — or rather, lack of history — with the team and the sport. He had never been much of a hockey fan until two years ago, when his oldest son Matthew Reynolds, long a NASCAR fan, fell in love with the Caps and insisted that his father had to see a game in person.
“Wow, this is cool,” Childress remembered thinking during his first game.
By last year he was going to games as often as he could get tickets, and by this year he had seven season tickets and went to virtually every home game. In addition to, you know, getting the entire team to autograph his car. He needs less than 10 more signatures to polish off the entire roster, and said he’s never felt embarrassed asking pro hockey players to write on his trunk.
“Not at all,” he said. “It’s just funny to see their reaction. Like I said, it’s something to do.”
Friends have expressed surprise that he would allow people to write on the car, which is named Vivian, after Julia Roberts’s character in Pretty Woman. But Childress’s family members are supportive of his quest.
“I love it,” said daughter Katie. “Like he said, nobody’s ever thought to do anything like this, having an entire team sign the trunk of a car. If anybody else tries to do it after this, they’re copying him. And it will never be on anything nicer than this car right here. Anything nicer, and people would think you were crazy.”
While Katie told me this, she was wearing a Caps sweatshirt. The sweatshirt, perhaps not surprisingly, was covered with Caps autographs.
UPDATE: Darryl told me that he now has gotten autographs from the entire coaching staff and the entire team, save only Martin Erat.