Preparations intensify at Morgan-McClure Motorsports in Abingdon, Va., with only 20 days remaining until the Daytona 500. The No. 4 Kodak Chevy will have one last test at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on January 30 and 31 before heading to the...
Preparations intensify at Morgan-McClure Motorsports in Abingdon, Va., with only 20 days remaining until the Daytona 500. The No. 4 Kodak Chevy will have one last test at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on January 30 and 31 before heading to the NASCAR Winston Cup Series season opener in Daytona Beach, Fla.
While taking a break from overseeing a motor being tested in the dyno room, car owner Larry McClure offers comments on outspoken drivers and sponsor commitments in the ever-growing sport of racing. McClure, whose team now boasts the longest running continuous primary sponsor in Winston Cup (15 years and running), is well aware of what it takes to keep corporate America happy.
The veteran car owner has also had his share of dealing with the outspoken types like Ernie Irvan, who piloted the familiar yellow Chevy to victory lane seven times between 1990 and 1993. Actually, McClure is quick to note that he prefers the fearless, confident type to drive for him. He compares the outspoken personality traits and aggressive driving style of his team's new driver, California-native Robby Gordon to that of Irvan's, also hailing from the Golden State.
Photo: Morgan-McClure Motorsports.
"I believe personalities in NASCAR that say what they think make our sport more interesting. Fans have a need to see the real side of real people. These guys are not made of plastic. They get angry and have bad days, just like the rest of us. I do not think they should be a bunch of clones, walking around saying the same thing and having the same opinions.
"Don't get me wrong. We have to take care of sponsors. Each person on the Morgan-McClure Motorsports team acts as a spokesperson for the team, Kodak, our associate sponsors, Chevrolet and NASCAR. We have perimeters to follow. That is not to say that every person is a perfect individual that says the proper thing and acts the proper way every minute of the day. Nobody on earth fits into that category.
"We take care of our sponsor. I am a huge supporter of NASCAR. They do an incredible job, but I disagree with some of the things they do sometimes. I have learned over the years not to be volatile. If I have a bone to pick with the higher powers, then I go in private and sit down with Mike Helton (NASCAR) or whoever and discuss my concerns. Airing disagreements in public can bite you.
"Now if somebody does me wrong and I am confident about it, I will let them know. I will speak the truth and facts about the situation and people do not want to face the facts sometimes. It is a big deal if somebody in this sport does you really dirty, because we are such a close-knit group. Fortunately, we all get along pretty good.
"I might be mad as fire at a person one day, then go to the track and put it behind me the next. David Ifft, crew chief, is a lot like that. That is why we click. He has also learned not to lose his cool for any length of time.
Larry McClure Photo Morgan-McClure Motorsports
"Look at Earnhardt, Jr., for example. He is not afraid to let the fans know what his lifestyle is like or what his likes and dislikes are. Some people might not agree with his style, but at least they see that he is a real person that does not live in a public relations bubble."
Robby Gordon, driver of the Kodak MAX Film Chevy:
"My opinion on Spencer vs. Earnhardt? Spencer is jealous of Earnhardt. The man had the guts not to show up for the Winston Cup Preview and Spencer did not. Truthfully, being outspoken or showing true personality in NASCAR Winston Cup can be a tough issue. Obviously, this is an issue I have had to deal with in the past.
"You have to be careful about speaking out because of sponsorship. Some sponsors do not look kindly on it.
"Kodak is a premier sponsor in the Cup series. I am working hard to get back some of the respect I might have lost by being outspoken on issues. By owning a team last season, I have learned how important it is to carry the proper image for a sponsor.
"Kodak, Larry, David and I are together for the right reasons. We all want to win. I might try to bite my tongue a little harder from now on, but that is not a promise. Come on, I am only human."