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Blackhawks goalie and motorhead Corey Crawford satisfies need for speed Saturday

Blackhawks goalie and car enthusiast Corey Crawford will satisfy his need for speed Saturday. | Courtesy of the Chicago Blackhawks

Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford twice has experienced the adrenaline rush of lifting the Stanley Cup above his head. On Saturday, he will experience a new kind of thrill — though he’ll be driving in circles instead of skating them.

Crawford will lead the field to the green flag for the sixth annual IndyCar Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He’ll be behind the wheel of a custom Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport Coupe as the celebrity pace car.

This is the Chevrolet Corvette Pace Car that Corey Crawford will drive Saturday. | Provided
This is the Chevrolet Corvette Pace Car that Corey Crawford will drive Saturday. | Provided

‘‘I thought it would be pretty cool to be in the pace car,’’ said Crawford, who indicated he’s not as nervous as he thought he’d be. ‘‘[I’m going to] see if I can push the car to its limits and get some tips on how to really drive a car around the track. . . . It’ll be fun.’’

It won’t be the first time Crawford has put the pedal to the metal. He took his 1969 Camaro to a quarter-mile track and topped out at 124 mph.

‘‘I spun the first two gears, too,’’ Crawford said. ‘‘It’s not really set up for drag racing.’’

Off the track, Crawford said he’s a law-abiding citizen.

‘‘There’s speed limits outside, you know,’’ he said.

Crawford has been fascinated with cars since he was a kid. He collected model cars growing up, and his two favorites were the Ferrari and the Dodge Viper.

Crawford always dreamed of one day owning a souped-up vintage vehicle. But he settled for a five-speed Hyundai Elantra as his first car when he was a teenager.

As he got older, Crawford wanted to learn more about cars and to start restoring them himself. But his other passion, hockey, prevented him from getting the chance — until he met Jimmy Bielarz, that is.

Crawford was already the proud owner of a 1969 Chevelle when he bought a vibrant-yellow 1969 Camaro. As one can imagine, he wasn’t the biggest fan of the color. In the process of looking for a shop that could help him give his new baby a fresh paint job, a neighbor introduced him to Bielarz, who owns Nortown Auto on Goose Island. The two clicked instantly.

Crawford helped Bielarz as much as he could.

‘‘That was the first car I ripped apart,’’ Crawford said. ‘‘I didn’t do anything to it, didn’t change any parts, because I bought it complete. It just needed a paint job.’’

Once the job was done, Crawford wanted another project.

In the spring of 2017, Crawford bought a 1970 Chevelle. The car was definitely a fixer-upper. It had a white body with a red interior. Crawford worked day-in and day-out that summer with Bielarz and mechanic George Alex to restore the car. The frame was the only thing they kept.

‘‘We changed all the parts in that car,’’ Crawford said. ‘‘It was like a brand-new car.’’

Nortown Auto closes at 5 p.m., but Crawford was usually working on the car there till 10 or 11 every night, despite the fact his fiancé, Kristy Muscolino, was in the latter part of her pregnancy with their son.

Corey Crawford tinkers with his 1970 Chevelle. | Courtesy of the Chicago Blackhawks
Corey Crawford tinkers with his 1970 Chevelle. | Courtesy of the Chicago Blackhawks

‘‘Maybe it was a good thing for me to get away every once in a while,’’ Crawford joked.

All kidding aside, Crawford said Muscolino supported him working on his car.

‘‘She’s very patient, and she’s awesome,’’ he said. ‘‘She didn’t give me any hard times with being at the shop for hours every night.’’

Crawford was involved in the restoration every step of the way. The only things he didn’t do were the metal-cutting, the welding and the wiring.

‘‘I kind of stayed away from that, just in case something [got] in my eye,’’ Crawford said. ‘‘Everything else, I tried to be hands-on. All the bolt-on stuff is pretty straightforward. It’s pretty easy. . . . I don’t know how they do wiring. Looking at the instructions, it’s pretty complicated. But I was there for it, and I watched them for most of it.

“Everything else is pretty much possible to do; you just have to learn. So I was there, and I just went through the process.”

Crawford donated the 1970 Chevelle to the Blackhawks Foundation this year. It went for more than $200,000, making it the most successful raffle fundraiser in team history.

Crawford said he would be interested in restoring another car someday, but it would have to be the right one. It’s possible he could buy one at the Barrett-Jackson auto auction in Scottsdale, Arizona, which is a bucket-list trip for him.

‘‘After I’m done playing, I’m sure I’ll make it down there with a few buddies and check it out,’’ Crawford said.

But when he goes to Barrett-Jackson, Crawford said he’ll remember the lesson he learned at a Mecum auction he went to in Kissimmee, Florida.

‘‘There was one [car] that I liked, but I didn’t bid on it quick enough,’’ Crawford said. ‘‘I thought about it way too long. The hammer dropped, so I was really slow on that one. . . . I’ll be quicker next time.’’