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Earnhardt's stolen racing suit recovered

Updated:
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) _ A racing suit worn by the late NASCAR icon Dale Earnhardt Sr. was returned to Texas Motor Speedway's president by the attorney of a part-time security guard who faces theft charges, police said.

The security guard's attorney contacted police sometime after last month's theft of the vintage suit, helmet and shoes, which were returned Wednesday to Fort Worth police, said Lt. Dean Sullivan. Detectives on Thursday gave the items to speedway president Eddie Gossage.

The 44-year-old man's name is not being released because he has not been arrested or charged. But police are preparing a case to present to the Denton County District Attorney's Office, Sullivan said.

The suit _ worth between $50,000 and $100,000 _ along with a helmet, racing gloves and shoes, is usually displayed on a mannequin in a glass case at the race track's gift shop. This year, the items were used to recreate a famous photo of Earnhardt hugging Dale Earnhardt Jr. after his son won his first Nextel Cup race at Texas in 2000.

The display was taken down and the items boxed up and stored in a locked closet earlier in November. Workers discovered that the items were missing when they later went to set up the Earnhardt memorabilia.

Earnhardt, arguably the most famous driver in NASCAR history, gave the items to Gossage in 1996 as a gift.

``This fire suit means a great deal to me because Dale and I had been good friends since early in both of our careers,'' Gossage said in a statement. ``This uniform is such an icon to our sport and Dale's great accomplishments, similar to one of Elvis jumpsuits.''

Earnhardt died in a crash at the 2001 Daytona 500.
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