Charlotte Kodak Race Team Preview

McClures won't sleep at home like most teams at Charlotte Most NASCAR Winston Cup teams are headquartered close enough to Lowe's Motor Speedway near Charlotte, N.C., for crew members to sleep in their own beds when the circuit comes to ...

McClures won't sleep at home like most teams at Charlotte

Most NASCAR Winston Cup teams are headquartered close enough to Lowe's Motor Speedway near Charlotte, N.C., for crew members to sleep in their own beds when the circuit comes to town.

That won't be the case this weekend for the McClure Brothers. Ed, Larry, Jerry and Teddy McClure, along with partner Tim Morgan, began the Morgan-McClure Racing Team in 1983 and have been racing out of their Abingdon, Va., shops ever since.

Ed McClure, the 62-year-old Vice President of Morgan-McClure Motorsports, Inc., has watched the team progress through the years. From a 5,000-square foot first shop to the present state-of-the art 90,000 square-foot facility, Morgan-McClure Motorsports, Inc., continues to grow with the sport.

"Where the end of it is, I don't suppose anybody knows," Ed McClure said. "It's scary. You almost think sometimes that things get too big. Nothing is ever so big it couldn't fall back down. The bigger it gets, the more expensive it gets. Where the end is to that, I don't have any idea."

Bobby Hamilton, a Nashville, Tenn., native, began driving the No. 4 Kodak MAX Film Monte Carlo out of the Morgan-McClure stables last season and finished 10th in the final NASCAR Winston Cup standings. Hamilton will enter Sunday's UAW-GM Quality 500 at Lowe's Motor Speedway ranked 14th in the standings.

Hamilton finished fourth in last year's fall race at Charlotte and would like to improve on that finish this time around. Like he has for each race except two since 1983, Ed McClure will be in the pits timing the laps of the No. 4 Kodak Monte Carlo.

During the week, McClure works at the shop with Team Manager and President Larry McClure. At the track, he's an integral part of the team.

"At the race track, I keep all the laps for the car and time whoever's leading," McClure said. "If we're leading, I time whoever is behind us. During pit stops, I clean the windshield.

"I started doing that because we didn't have enough people to fill all these jobs when we first started. We all assumed a role, and I just kept it. It's kept me involved in it, and you know more about what's going on during a race if you're down in the pits doing something.

"I don't know how many more years I'll do that, but I've done it ever since we've been racing. I've missed two races. My son was in the hospital once, and I got sick once. They were both at Watkins Glen."

With 34 regular-season races on the '99 schedule, McClure admits that travel burnout sets in toward the end of the season, but that's just the nature of the beast.

"You're sort of ready for it to be over near the end of the season, but about the first of January, you're ready for it to start back again," McClure said. "It wears on you. Even if you fly to the races, it takes until about Wednesday until you're over the thing. Then it's time to go back again.

"It's glamourous, but I'm not sure it's as glamourous as people think it is. It's exciting, and I'm glad we're in it. I'm glad we've had the success we've had."

The Morgan-McClure team has achieved that success despite not being located in the racing stronghold near Charlotte. According to McClure, Abingdon, Va., is a perfect location for a NASCAR Winston Cup team.

"You always need parts and things out of Charlotte, but it's only a two and a half hour drive from Abingdon," McClure said. "On the other hand, we're away from a lot of the rumors and team member swappings. I think we're fortunate in that way. We've had very little turnover.

"A lot of our people are local and aren't going anywhere, and the ones that come here buy a house and they like it. They don't seem to want to go anywhere."

They'll go somewhere different after qualifying Wednesday night at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Unlike many teams, the McClures won't be sleeping in their own beds.

"Motel rooms are so high in Charlotte, and that's the bad part when we race there," McClure said. "Most of these guys stay home, and we go pay the motel bills.

"I usually don't go until Friday evening. One of us needs to be at the shop all the time, and it's getting to be more that way. Eventually, I'll probably cut my schedule back to where I'll probably stay back more. I'm not getting any younger."

Ed is the oldest of eight children. Brother Jerry spots for the team on race day, and Teddy runs the body shop and paint shop. Two brothers, Jimmy and Michael, aren't involved with the race team and live near Washington, D.C. A sister lives in Bristol and another in Las Vegas."

The McClures have always been race fans and car fans. Their father ran a Packard dealership in the '50s, and he enjoyed taking the family to Rockingham to watch NASCAR races.

"Ed and I used to sit in the car and listen to the Flock Brothers race in Daytona," Larry McClure said. "We'd go to Rockingham and spend the night in the car so we could watch the race. We were big Richard Petty fans. He's The King. We finally got in it in '83, and it's been great. It's been great working with Ed, too. He's a typical big brother."

Although Larry and Ed spend plenty of hours at the shop when they're not at the track, they don't spend too much time together.

"Larry's usually downstairs with the engines or cars, and I'm usually upstairs writing checks or whatever," Ed McClure said. "We'll occasionally have a meeting, but not as much as you might think. We've been doing it long enough. We usually know what the other one is thinking anyway.

"In our adult years, basically, we've always worked together. People ask how brothers work together? A lot of families, I suppose, and I wasn't aware of that, but I guess they don't get along good. We've always been a close family and have always worked good together. We've had disagreements, but they always work out.

"My mom and dad were behind all that, and they wouldn't allow you to do anything but work together. We just accepted it, and that's the way it is. I wouldn't want it any other way.

"My dad passed away several years ago, and he died before we won our first race. He would have been awed by it, I'm sure. My mother is 79. She used to go to the Bristol races, but she doesn't go much anymore. She stays home and watches on TV and then calls up and tells you what you should have done."

Ed and Larry McClure have been together so long, they never second guess each other. According to Larry McClure, it's a simple fact of blood being thicker than water or oil or grease or any other liquid.

"Blood is pretty thick," Larry McClure said. "It's a lot thicker than water, so Ed and I get along real well. He supports whatever decisions I make. If he disagrees, he lets me know.

"We've got a great relationship. He doesn't second guess me about what I do. He's supportive, and that means a lot in this business. They say NASCAR is a family sport, and if you look at it, you see what they're talking about.

You've got a lot of brothers racing against each other -- Wallaces, Burtons, Labontes.

"We've got four brothers working together to build a top-notch race team. We've won some races, and we're going to win some more. Maybe that victory lane in Charlotte is big enough to hold all the McClures and the Kodak MAX Film Racing Team."

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bobby Hamilton , Richard Petty