Driver-styled GPS units could have lots of personality


Racing souvenirs aren't limited to shirts and hats, bumper stickers and flags.

You can buy a Dale Earnhardt Jr. Youth Life Vest for water safety, a Kent Sporting Goods Jeff Gordon Towable Tube to ride on the lake, a Wincraft Tony Stewart Keg-A-Que grill to cook anything caught in the lake or a Wham-O NASCAR Triple Racer Slip 'n' Slide if you don't live near a lake.

It's not surprising the longest list of products is attached to Dale Earnhardt Jr., henceforth, Junior. Forbes reports his endorsement and licensing income accounts for $23 million of the $35 million he earned last year.

The big boost came from switching to car No. 88 with new sponsors.

It also marked his first year without sponsorship from a Belgium-owned beer company (we are boycotting use of that company's name for its plans to leave drag racing), and kids merchandise can't have references to the alcoholic beverages.

If he still were linked to that beer company, the latest Junior product -- and maybe the best ever -- might not be on the market because it's for use in your vehicle.

Say hello to the new Spotter GPS Navigator Dale Jr. Edition, and Junior just might say hello right back at y'all.

It's a high-tech setup for your vehicle that features audio by Dale Jr. that tells you to "Hang a left ... Park it ... We're here ... You drive, I'll ride shotgun." Who wouldn't want Junior to tell them where to go?

Of course, some modifications need to be made and new editions offered.

Under consideration is Junior II, which would be modeled after some of his pit stops this season when he missed his pit stall. His voice instructs you to drive past a repair shop although the unit senses you have a flat tire ... or to roll past a gas station when your tank is a fume or two from being empty.

If you challenge his directions/advice, the voice berates you as if you're his cousin and crew chief Tony Eury Jr.

"Damn, Tony, I know you're my cousin and I love ya, but you're dumber than a box of rocks sometime. Damn, I should have left you at DEI."

The unit also will a offer holiday reminder feature. For Mother's Day, Junior says: "Happy Mother's Day, and I ain't sayin' that to Teresa Earnhardt. She ain't my momma. I have a momma, and it ain't Teresa."

With the success of the Junior model(s), other Spotter versions are certain to be developed.

Kyle Busch Edition: His voice usually will give you directions nicely, but occasionally, when the temperature rises, so does the tone of his audio.

"Geez. You're lost? You're a bunch of girls. Can't follow directions? Do it again and I'll shut off the car, and you can walk the rest of the way.

Robby Gordon Edition: "Hey, I said turn right. I don't care if it's onto a dirt road. Turn right and put it in four-wheel drive like me."

Open-wheel fans will have three versions: Danica Patrick, Helio Castroneves and generic Formula One.

The "Patrick" is for women. It provides directions before getting lost. A "road rage" offers tips about how to properly notify a male driver when you believe he has violated your driving space.

The Castroneves model -- No. 1040-Oops -- gives the nearest location of income tax services and federal penitentiaries. The Formula One model comes in an accent Americans can't understand.

The first version for drag racing fans features the fast-wit and faster tongue of John Force. Regardless of your request or question, all answers are the same:

"Yeah, I got your question. I remember when I wanted to go to a place like that. Back in 1992. Yeah, that wasn't a good year. Nope. Lost the title to Cruz Pedregon. But I came back. Won the next 10. Then his brother Tony beat me in a hot rod I owned. I love that kid even if he left me to start his own team.

"Hey, where did you want to say you want to go? Did I answer your question? Sorry, been drinkin' too much coffee. But you know I quit drinkin' beer, right?"

The Force model of The Spotter will require a supercharged battery.

Jeff Wolf's motor sports column is published Friday. He can be reached at 702-383-0247 or jwolf@reviewjournal.com. Visit Wolf's motor sports blog at lvrj.com/blogs/heavypedal/ throughout the week.

 

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