Tuesday, October 20, 1998 JUNIE DUNLAVEY, OWNER OF THE NO. 90 HEILIG-MEYERS TAURUS, HAS BEEN AN OWNER IN THE NASCAR WINSTON CUP SERIES SINCE 1950. SOME OF THE DRIVERS WHO HAVE WORKED FOR DUNLAVEY INCLUDE JOE WEATHERLY, DAVID PEARSON, TINY LUND,...
Tuesday, October 20, 1998
JUNIE DUNLAVEY, OWNER OF THE NO. 90 HEILIG-MEYERS TAURUS, HAS BEEN AN OWNER IN THE NASCAR WINSTON CUP SERIES SINCE 1950. SOME OF THE DRIVERS WHO HAVE WORKED FOR DUNLAVEY INCLUDE JOE WEATHERLY, DAVID PEARSON, TINY LUND, FRED LORENZEN, HARRY GANT, RICKY RUDD, KEN SCHRADER AND ERNIE IRVAN. COMMENTS FROM HIS APPEARANCE ON THE WEEKLY WINSTON TELECONFERENCE FOLLOW BELOW:
WHAT ARE YOUR IMPRESSIONS OF THE FIRST 50 YEARS OF NASCAR AND WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES FACING THE SPORT? "I've watched it grow from 1950 on and it's been a great sport. Great people have been involved in it and NASCAR is a first-class organization to be handling this deal. It's been a lot of fun for me. I've tried not to make a business out of it, but now it seems like if you want to be involved you've almost got to make a business out of it. But it's a very good sport. The fans, no other sport that I've been close to has ever come close to having the type of fans that racing has."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE RUMORS SURROUNDING YOUR TEAM AS FAR AS POSSIBLY SELLING OR HAVING TEAM CHANGES? "What set me back was the first of March when I got back from Daytona. I had to have an aorta valve replaced and I haven't really been involved in the team up until just recently. The team was started in Richmond and I had a group that wanted to buy it and move it to Charlotte, but I had a lot of people in Richmond that didn't want to see the team moved. So I just decided that I would keep it here and we'd try to smooth down the big bumps in the road and see if we couldn't keep operating and still keep the team in Richmond."
ARE YOU GOING TO DO WHATEVER YOU CAN TO KEEP IT IN RICHMOND? "Yeah. We've got a lot of people working on sponsorships. We've got a lot of good people coming in and going to work. I think that we can handle it and really make it work. It's been here since 1950 and we've been involved ever since. I think we can do it. The thing that I like best of all about racing that I've been involved in is, not only have I had some of the greatest drivers make some laps for me but I've helped a lot of rookies. That, to me, I just feel so sorry for all of the young guys out there that never have a chance to participate in the Winston Cup part of it. If I could just keep going, that's what I'm gonna try to do is give a few more drivers an opportunity to come in and show how good they are and replace some of them that will be retiring pretty soon."
WILL YOU BE ABLE TO CONTINUE IF YOU DON'T ACQUIRE SPONSORSHIP? "We can handle that. We've got good people here. We've got people who are pretty smart with what's going on. Now, if you didn't have a sponsor you couldn't participate today. Nobody, I don't think, has that much money that they can put into this game unless it is through sponsorship. But we've got a lot of good people. We've got a lot of good drivers we can call on to come in and we're talking to a lot of good sponsors, so I look for everything to just fall in place and we'll come out swinging and running hard in February at Daytona."
WITH DICK TRICKLE AS DRIVER? "Well, I can't sign Dick Trickle up yet because I'm sure that there are other teams that could use him. I'm not that positive that we will be able to secure a sponsor. Another thing is when you get a sponsor, a lot of times they have a particular driver they would like to have or someone in a different class, whether it be a rookie or whatever. I didn't want to hurt Dick and keep him tied up and let him miss a good opportunity if one comes along for him."
DO YOU PLAN ON HANDLING CREW CHIEF DUTIES THE REST OF THE YEAR? "Well, I tell you the truth, Dick has really been handling what he wanted under the car. We've got a couple of good boys who are kind of chassis experts and between those two guys and Trickle, they've been calling all the shots for it. Other than just telling them when to pit, that's all a crew chief can do right at the moment because Trickle likes to have under that car what he wants. I've got the people that work with him. They made a little mistake down at Daytona and it hurt on qualifying, but it hurt a few other cars also. I don't really want to be a crew chief, I just like to be involved and be there to make sure that things run smooth. I've got a new boy coming in next week to go to Rockingham who's supposed to pretty sharp, and with all the people that we have I think we'll be able to make a success of it."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR MEMORIES FROM THAT FIRST DAYTONA VISIT? "That was something. You had strictly stock automobiles back then in '59 when we went down there and it was something. These drivers have to learn drafting right from the start when they opened that track up and they really put on a good show. They are pretty fast today, but NASCAR is trying to control them to keep them in the range that they need to be able to control these cars. They had a terrific race down there the other night and it was really something to watch that thing under the lights. It was a pretty spectacular race."
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT LIMITING THE SIZE OF PIT CREWS? "What I have found with the type of people that we have, when they work on that car all week preparing it for the race, they like to be a part of it on race day. I've always understood that the guys that stay back at the shop and preparing, maybe at a lot of places they don't want to do the traveling. But the people that I've been involved with down through the years, they like to be a part of the whole deal so it wouldn't bother us. We use the people right out of the shop for the pit crew anyway."