Bristol: Cory McClenathan preview

Carrier Boyz to race before hometown fans at O'Reilly Thunder Valley Nationals BRISTOL, Tenn. (April 26, 2004) -- Brothers, Mark and Andy Carrier, came about their business and motorsports acumen naturally, learning literally at their father's...

Carrier Boyz to race before hometown fans at O'Reilly Thunder Valley Nationals

BRISTOL, Tenn. (April 26, 2004) -- Brothers, Mark and Andy Carrier, came about their business and motorsports acumen naturally, learning literally at their father's knee.

The pair spent their formative years watching and learning as their father, Larry Carrier, went about his work building a motorsport legacy matched by very few.

Mention the name Larry Carrier in the east Tennessee town of Bristol, or for that matter throughout the empire reach by motorsports, and thoughts immediately turn to one of the shortest tracks on the NASCAR schedule -- the half mile bullring, now called Bristol Motor Speedway.

The circle track, built in 1961 under the elder Carrier's leadership, underwent several remodels and to this day is the largest single attended sporting or entertainment event in Tennessee. This, in a state where country music and football reign supreme.

Carrier added a drag strip and campgrounds to the property before selling the circle track in the mid-70s and the drag strip in the mid-80s. The campgrounds still remain in the Carrier family.

In addition to creating one of the most recognized tracks on the NASCAR circuit, Carrier, known for his technological and marketing innovations, founded the International Hot Rod Association in 1970. During his ownership, he not only created new and exciting classes of competition but was responsible for new safety developments, many still in use today.

In 1975, through Carrier's marketing insight, the IHRA became the first motorsport sanctioning body to attract the support of a major corporation when he signed R.J. Reynolds' Winston brand as a marketing partner. Carrier sold IHRA in 1987 to former Funny Car driver and Texas Motorplex owner Billy Meyer.

A decade later, in 1998, Carrier founded the World Boxing Federation with the thought of bringing his marketing genius to the boxing ring.

Although one didn't influence the other, a side note to the boxing theme is that Mark Carrier began a boxing career at age 12 and retired in 1998 from the Heavyweight Division. During that span, Mark posted 36 wins, 2 losses, 1 draw and 30 knockouts. His fights have appeared on major television networks and cable channels, including ESPN.

The WBF, IHRA , Bristol Motor Speedway and Bristol Dragway all continue to thrive today, albeit under different ownership, thanks to the vision of one individual, Larry Carrier, some 40 plus years ago.

The watching and learning paid off for Mark and Andy Carrier, now 33- and 30-years-old respectively. During a decade of "getting their feet wet," so to speak, the brothers have flexed their own entrepreneurial talents in several different businesses.

These businesses currently include: All-American Campgrounds, LLC, a campground that is adjacent to the Bristol Motor Speedway; Rocking C Ranch, LLC, an entity that raises and breeds championship Quarter Horses on a national level (13 World and Reserve championships and still counting), and has been part of the Carrier family for over three decades; and Tri-Cities Golf Club, LLC, a 27-hole public golf course located in Bristol hosting over 75,000 rounds of golf each year and home to over 100 annual corporate tournaments.

Mark indicates that the best business advice that his father gave to him and Andy was to "treat everyone with honesty and integrity."

Since their childhood, the brothers have never lost their ties and love for motorsports. Mark and Andy are both licensed Super Comp drivers, but this time Larry Carrier's sons flipped the coin over and became, not track owners and promoters but race car owners.

Starting with campaigning a sportsman car, the brothers enjoyed much success throughout the 2000, 2001 and 2002 season with Brian Olson as driver.

More recently, racing a limited schedule in 2003, the pair have joined the ranks as owners of a Top Fuel team -- Carrier Boyz Racing. Three drivers, Andrew Cowin, Don Lampus and Paul Romine, shared the driving duties during the initial foray into Top Fuel.

For 2004, Carrier Boyz Racing is running a full-time NHRA schedule with veteran Top Fuel driver Cory McClenathan behind the wheel of the Berryman Products Top Fuel dragster.

While the team receives support from Berryman Products and associate sponsors American Racing, Champion Spark Plugs, Don Steves Chevrolet (La Habra, Calif.), Fabtech Motorsports, FRAM, Mac Tools, Negley Electric, Prestone and PurePower Oil, additional financial support is needed to make the playing field level with the high dollar entries.

Even as such, Carrier Boyz Racing is making their presence felt and will be a factor in remaining events this season.

This weekend the Carrier brothers will be coming home to Bristol Dragway for the 4th annual NHRA O'Reilly Thunder Valley Nationals presented by Quaker State.

They enter this event, the sixth of 23 events on the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series, No. 7 in the POWERade Top Fuel point standings with 243 points, just 43 points out of the top five.

In the standings for the Budweiser Shootout, a special race-within-a-race, held in conjunction with the NHRA AC-Delco Las Vegas Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in October, McClenathan is currently No. 8. Only the top seven drivers in points are guaranteed a spot in the Shootout. The eighth and final position (the wild card) will be determined by a special lottery-styled drawing between the drivers who qualify in positions 8-15.

Being in front of friends and fans in the backyard of Carrier Boyz Racing puts some additional pressure on both team owners and driver but is also a time to renew old acquaintances.

"It means everything to both Mark and me to be racing in front of a lot of people we grew up with. It's great to be able to showcase what we are doing on the NHRA POWERade circuit. Our performance is starting to come around so this weekend should be awesome," said Andy Carrier.

"It would be great if we could go a few rounds at Bristol. It would be even greater if we can go to the final round and win," said McClenathan. "I like Bristol Dragway. In 2000, at the second Winston Showdown, an all-star event that pitted Top Fuel dragsters against Funny Cars, I took home the winner's trophy and the $200,000 that came with it.

"I look forward to seeing and meeting all the friends and fans of Mark and Andy. Their mom, Shirley, will be there and I told her that the next race she came to we would give her a win. Talk about pressure."

Professional qualifying for the O'Reilly Thunder Valley Nationals can be seen on Friday and Saturday with two sessions each day. Final eliminations take center stage on Sunday.


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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Paul Romine , Andrew Cowin , Cory McClenathan , Don Lampus , Brian Olson