As he prepares for Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte, driver Jamie McMurray is celebrating the 10th anniversary of his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win which came at Charlotte on October 13, 2002. With the one year anniversary of the tornadoes that wreaked havoc in his hometown of Joplin, Missouri, NASCAR’s Jamie McMurray has helped to bring hope to a town that is still trying to rebuild. In conjunction with Bass Pro shops, he helped raise nearly $40,000 for disaster relief and also helped raise awareness for Governor Jay Nixon’s Jolpin Challenge.
In his efforts, McMurray understands the importance of giving back and how his success gives him access to help others, not himself. He spoke to this understanding in a NASCAR media teleconference interview:
“I don’t know that helping anyone has helped my career at all, but, I don’t know, I think that you that you get in a position where you can give back or you can use TV cameras and all of the exposure that we have in NASCAR for the better. I think that that’s the most important time to use those tools. When I came back to Joplin, I came back more than anything because I wanted to see it. And then, you know, there was so many media people that wanted to come with me and that it brought a lot of exposure and Bass Pro Shops wanted to get involved and wanted to help raise money to give back. I think it’s maybe the other way; maybe getting to be at a type of racing at the level that I’m at, you have access to so much media to get exposure and help raise money, that it maybe works the other way.”
(Moderator) How surprised were you by the number of fans and media and drivers that stepped in to help?
JAMIE McMURRAY: Well, the racing community is pretty small. Whether it’s with media, or the drivers, it seems like everybody wants to help others out. The whole thing with Joplin was that that wasn’t just — that was mainstream media. It was just devastating that it happened just a few weeks after the Tuscaloosa tornado. Yeah, I think that’s just part of NASCAR and everyone seems to have a big heart and wanting to give back. Yeah, I think that’s a no-brainer for those guys to want to help with that.
Jamie McMurray is a great driver and an even greater person. As he moves forward with the race on Sunday, he has already started to prepare for the longest race of the season.
“It seems like you mentally prepare for that, and in the race, even if your car is good, things go by fairly quick and if your car is not, it seems like it takes all day. But after running there in the All-Star Race each year, it gives you a good baseline of changes that you want to make and we’ve gone back and changed a few things on our car to make it better, and it’s a big test, the 600. Most people look forward, if you run decent at the All-Star event, then you look forward to going back because you have a really good baseline to start with.”
NASCAR drivers are frequently not in the spotlight like athletes in other sports. As the force behind the powerful machines they propel around the track, we usually only see them before and after the races, and maybe when they land some commercial deal. In this case, it’s good to see Jamie. His love for his hometown and the people in it has helped those who need it most and, for me, no matter what happens on race day, he’s already the winner.
Your Jersey Girlfriend,