Skip McCord, having raced for most of his 32 years, is having trouble adjusting to the role of spectator.
"I still go to races but it's kinda hard just to watch," says McCord, who was sidelined last season by lack of a sponsor. So far nothing has developed this season, but he's not giving up.
"I'm looking for sponsorship that will allow me to run the All-American 400," says McCord, referring to Fairgrounds Speedway's premier race that concludes the season. "I'm beating the bushes, and if anyone's interested, they can give me a call (615-429-1818.)
McCord's racing roots run deep. He began driving go-karts as a kid, worked for Bobby Hamilton Racing in Mt. Juliet for several years, and competed in various divisions at area tracks.
Increased family obligations showed him down.
"I'm married, with a little girl (Ella) and my family comes first," he says. "Also, it gets more expensive every year. Racing requires a lot of time and a lot of money."
Area racing, which went through a long slump, appears to gradually be making a comeback. Fairgrounds Speedway has dramatically increased its purses, Highland Rim Speedway in Ridgetop is up and running, and Nashville Superspeedway in Gladeville is scheduled to re-open under a new owner who has hinted at big -- but yet unannounced -- plans.
"I've always enjoyed the sport and I'll continue to support it whether I'm racing or not," McCord says. "Obviously, my preference would be to be on the track instead of in the grandstands."
The annual All-American 400, set for Nov. 1, is considered one of the country's premier short-track races.
"If I can make that race and do well, it could open some doors," says McCord. "I'm confident in my ability to drive a race car -- I've competed against some of the best drivers around -- but first I've got to get in to the race, and that requires financing."
Racing at the Fairgrounds got a major boost from Big Machine Records, one of the country's top country music companies. Founder and owner Scott Borchetta is a former Fairgrounds racer who actively supports area racing. Purses in the track's premier division this season jumped from $1,500 to $5,000.
The Fairgrounds' next race is Aug 2, and Mt. Juliet's Josh Weston retains the points lead he has held all season. Weston had a two-race winnings streak snapped by an 8th-place finish on July 12, but still remains atop the championship standings.
As for developments at the Superspeedway, a public relations spokesman said last week that the purchase of the Gladeville track from Dover Motorsports is "being finalized."
New owner Robb Sexton of Hendersonville last month said he would hold a press conference sometime in July to announce his specific plans for the track, possibly including some events for later this year.