Within a five-month span, Lovie Smith and Evan Dietrich-Smith have forged a classic connection. The new head coach of the Buccaneers and Tampa Bay’s free-agent center share a passion for vintage automobiles and physical football. Dietrich-Smith, who signed with the Bucs from Green Bay in March, just purchased his first classic car, a 1957 Bel Air that caught his eye at a Clearwater showroom. The next thing he knew, Dietrich-Smith was tooling down the road, attracting gawkers. “It’s a black cherry show-stopper for sure,’’ he said. “You roll by somebody and you can see their reaction. Usually, they just go, ‘Wow.’ I was driving to work this morning, trying to figure out how to put the lights on.’’ When Dietrich-Smith noticed a few old-school vehicles in the team parking lot earlier this month, he learned one of them belonged to the man behind the wheel at One Buc Place. Smith has been to known to collect old Mustangs, and he quickly became aware of a new oldie but goodie out back. “I love everything about Evan,’’ Smith said. “He and I both love classic cars. He’s got a great ’57 Chevy in the parking lot that I can’t wait to see.’’ Growing up in Salinas, California, Dietrich-Smith developed an appreciation for vintage automobiles. “I’ve always liked cars, but my family was never really into them and didn’t spend the money on them,’’ he said. “My Bel Air is a really sweet car, but I’m no (classic car collector) Jay Leno at this point.’’ Dietrich-Smith earned a Super Bowl ring as a member of the 2010 Packers, and he started all 16 games for Green Bay last season. As the anchor of an overhauled offensive line in Tampa, he has quickly earned the respect of his new teammates.
Smith, Dietrich-Smith forge bond over classic cars
Tampa Tribune | Aug 22