Rick McCray is about to do what he feels helps him do his job as a race track promoter better and that is sliding behind the wheel of a race car. As one of several American drivers invited to compete in the Inaugural ASA Transcontinental Series race at South Africa, McCray will return to his roots, peddling a NASCAR West Series style car. And just like the good ol' days, he will have his friends and family with him. In fact daughter, Toni McCray will also be behind the wheel of one of the cars for the Freestate 500 event. But that is a whole different Q&A, for now, kick back, relax and enjoy a few quick questions with the current promoter of Orange Show Speedway in San Bernardino, California, Rick McCray.
"I believe ASA will support South Africa stock car racing for many years to come to continue growing the sport. "— Rick McCray
RacingWest: When you were first approached about the Phakisa race at South Africa what did you think of the idea?
Rick McCray: When Dennis Huth first approached me with the idea in May of last year he asked me if I could get the cob webs off my helmet and I just kind of laughed and said yes. I thought it was great taking stock car racing to another country. Especially after going to Australia and Japan. I believe ASA will support South Africa stock car racing for many years to come to continue growing the sport.
RW: Africa is a trip of a lifetime for many, but it is also an unknown. What are your thrills and apprehensions about going to South Africa?
RM: The thrills are not only getting to see a new country but meeting new friends along the way. Since 9-11 I think everyone is a little concerned about foreign travel.
RW: Are you going there mainly for the race or will you be seeing some of the country as well? If you are extending your trip, where will you go? What do you hope to see, eat, and buy?
RM: Mainly for the race. I know ASA has a few things planned for us but outside of that we will not be extending our trip. I'd love to see the wild life that Africa is known for. As far as eating i will try any thing once. Not really looking to buy anything but I am sure I will take home something to remember South Africa for./
RW: Now about the race, how do you feel about getting back into a NASCAR West type car?
RM: I am excited to get back in a race car. Especially after playing around at the Orange Show last year.
RW: What are the differences of the NASCAR West car of today and the car you were driving “back in the day’?
RM: Technology has come along ways from when i raced those cars. These cars are much more aero-dynamic and safety wise these seem to be much safer.
With roof flaps, new style seats, side windows, etc./ /The chassis and suspension parts have come a long ways from the stock frame car to fabricated car of today.
RW: They say the track at Phakisa is a lot like the track at Las Vegas before it was reconfigured, which I believe you have competed on. If this is the case, what type of racing can fans expect to see?
RM: I did run on the old configuration at Las Vegas. I believe the fans will see a lot of side by side racing
RW: Of all the crew that is going with you, who was the most excited to learn they were going to be a part of this event?
RM: It.is probably a toss up between my brother Larry and my friend Mark Godfrey. Both of them went to Australia with me.
RW: You have really been a jack-of-all trades when it comes to motorsports --driver, car owner and track promoter. Which has been the most rewarding and why?
RM: Being a driver. I have been able to race all over the world. Along the way I have made a lot of friendships, raced with legends like Richard Petty, Bobby Allison, Dale Earnhardt Sr., Benny Parsons. I have done commercials along with Richard & Kyle Petty and Bobby Allison. I think the experiences I have had and the things I have been through as a driver will help me be a better promoter.
RW: As the promoter of Orange Show Speedway, it seems you are doing a lot of things the drivers like. We even hear full-field inverts are on tap for this season. Any other news you can share with us fans about what we can expect at the track?
RM: I believe the fans will see more action packed side-by-side racing in every division this year. We are also bringing back USAC and open wheel racing to the Orange Show
RW: Final question, when you were racing the NASCAR West at Ontario and Riverside alongside the NASCAR Cup drivers, what is the one thing about them that fans might not know?
RM: They were genuine people and ordinary guys. Actually I walked up to Benny Parsons at Ontario and told him I had a problem with my car. He jumped in it took a couple laps and came back in and helped me fix it. Back then the drivers actually worked on their race cars right alongside the crew.
Thank you for all your time. Look forward to seeing you in Welkom, South Africa!