Lebanon's Skip McCord had been behind the wheel of some sort of racing vehicle for most of his 32 years -- from racing go-karts to wheeling stocks car in the premier series at Fairgrounds Speedway -- until sidelined last season by lack of sponsorship.
And even though he has yet to secure backing for his race car for the 2014 season, he has not given up.
He's holding onto his race car -- and his dream.
"I've still got my car and my racing equipment, and I'm ready to go the minute I get some financial backing," McCord says. "Like most drivers, I can't afford to race out of my own pocket, but I haven't given up. There's some races at Pensacola (Fla.) and Montgomery (Ala.) that I'd really like to run. Right now it's wait-and-see."
McCord says having to sit out last season was "very frustrating," but it didn't dim his passion or dent his confidence.
"I know I'm capable of driving a race car," he says. "I've competed against some of the best drivers around, including (two-time Daytona 500 champ) Sterling Marlin. I haven't lost my desire, I just need some financing to get back on the track. I'm married, with a daughter, and my family obligations come first. But I haven't given up hopes of racing again someday."
In recent years racing has struggled in the one-time hotbed of Middle Tennessee -- and all around the country -- but McCord sees signs of a resurgence.
"There's a lot of positive things going on at the Fairgrounds," he says. "Tony Formosa (the track promoter) has done a good keeping it operating, and this week he announced a partnership with Big Machine Records that will boost the race purses. (Last year first place in the Late Models paid $1,500; this year it pays $5,000.) That's big step in the right direction. Over the years the payoffs haven't kept up with the expenses of running a race team."
"They've also done a lot of good things at Highland Rim Speedway. That's a good little track with a lot of potential, and the new owners (including Mt. Juliet's Roger Cunningham) have made a lot of progress since they took it over. Things are looking up there, too."
The outlook, however, remains bleak at Nashville Superspeedway, as the Gladeville track sits silent for another season. It is occasionally leased by NASCAR teams for testing, but there are no prospects for resuming racing anytime in the near future.
"It's very disappointing, what happened to the Superspeedway," McCord says. "As a racer and as a race fan I had high hopes for that track. I'm still not sure what went wrong, why it didn't draw better."
Fairgrounds Speedway this season will run a limited schedule of races, starting April 5. Highland Rim Speedway has not yet posted its schedule, but plans to run every Saturday starting sometime next month and going into the fall.
"From a personal standpoint it's good to see racing making a comeback, because that should get sponsors interested," McCord says. "When they invest money in a race car, they want to see fans in the stands.
"If things work out, I'm ready and eager to get back on the track. If things don't work out, I'll continue to follow the sport and support it any way I can. I've enjoyed my racing career, regardless of what happens."