McGuire Sets Records at Bristol

The Roanoke Times

Those in the NASCAR fraternity who didn't know who Michael McGuire was before certainly know the 16-year-old Vinton leadfoot now.

In a head-turning performance at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, the sophomore at William Byrd High School posted a fast lap of 120.694 mph Thursday afternoon to capture the pole position for Saturday's 125-lap K&N Pro Series East season opener.

"I couldn't have asked for a better day,'' said McGuire, speaking via cellphone from an Applebee's restaurant in Bristol on Thursday night. "I was sweating bullets. We flew off into Turns 1 and 2 and it stuck, and I was praying it would stick in 3 and 4 because I knew it was going to be our hot lap.

"And I looked over right when we were done and I saw the No. 7 on the top of the board, and the feeling was incredible!"

McGuire, who finished in the top 10 in all three of his K&N Series starts last year as a rookie, had clocked the fastest lap among the field in the day's second practice session.

When it was show-and-tell time, the youngsterbrought the goods in the Toyota prepared by his crew chief, uncle Tony McGuire, and a band of hard working members of his underfinanced backyard racing team that's housed in southeast Roanoke.

"Right, this couldn't have worked out better because the Nationwide Series and Sprint Cup Series are actually racing thesame weekend as we do here,'' McGuire said. "The Nationwide trailers are parked on other side of race track, so hopefully we turned a few heads and people noticed our No. 7 on the top of board.''

Hey, the kid is a wheel man. Last year, his team, because of limited funds, was able to hit only three K&N Series events but still finished in the top 10 in every stop. Last year, he qualified fourth and finished eighth in the race on BMS' fast high-banked, half-mile oval.

"I'm feeling pretty good, actually. I think we've gained a lot and learned a lot from racing here last year,'' he said. "But our race runs weren't very good. We started off really loose at the beginning of the race and kinda lost a few positions, but we still managed to take a top 10 away from it.

"I think this year we're going to come a little bit stronger and that's the goal. Hopefully, our race runs will be a lot better and we'll be in contention for a win."

McGuire, whose father, Tim, and uncle were proven winners on area short tracks back in the day, hadn't been in a race car since last October, when Michael ran his last of three 2012 K&N races.

"Especially, how we ended off our second practice as being the fastest, we kinda had high hopes for getting the pole but our expectation levels aren't through the roof right now," Michael McGuire said. "We were pretty happy and content with where we were. I would have been happy with a top five or a top 10 as long as we made the race and got to come back on Saturday.

"All this is still kinda setting in, but we still have a race to run so we're just gonna focus on that and forget about today, as bad as that sounds. It's now focus on Saturday because that's when we need to handle business."

McGuire Youngest Driver to Ever Win at Motor Mile

Motor Mile Speedway

In a storybook ending, Michael McGuire becomes youngest-ever winner of a NASCAR-sanctioned Late Model race at Motor Mile Speedway.

A throng of race fans were in disbelief as they encircled the race winner of the second Shelor Motor Mile Dodge/Star Country Twin 100.

Michael McGuire couldn't believe it, either.

McGuire didn't expect pre-race favorite Lee Pulliam to exit the race with rear-end trouble on lap 4. He didn't expect contact from Davin Scites in the last corner of the last lap, and the door-banging race that ensued. And, as he admitted, "down-right honest, we didn't expect to win."

Standing amongst the crowd, a six year old boy gazed wide-eyed up at McGuire.

"How old are you?" asked the young fan. "Fourteen," was the reply. Runner-up Scites had questions, too, after mistakenly referring to Michael as Tony--- McGuire's uncle who compiled a beaming record at the Radford oval during his racing career. "Tony?" Scites misspoke," I was thinking of his uncle---I raced with his uncle for years---Michael did a heckuva job."

Tony was back in victory lane Saturday night, as was Michael's father, Tim, the 1988 Late Model track champion. For the first time, both racers walked into the winner's circle.

For Michael, his surreal first win came accompanied with unprecedented accolades, as the 14-year-old became the youngest-ever winner of a NASCAR-sanctioned Late Model race at Motor Mile Speedway.

After a lengthy caution and a brief red flag period, racing resumed on lap 25 with pole-sitter Frank Deiny, Jr. at the point. Slight contact propelled McGuire past Scites for second on 36, and four laps later McGuire overtook Deiny for the top spot with Scites in tow.

Deiny faded in the laps to come as the battle for first became a two-car showcase of stellar side-by-side racing. Scites' bid for first began on lap 43, and lasted the remainder of the contest.

"I was getting really nervous when Davin {Scites} got behind me. Man, we were racing each other really hard," said McGuire. "Those last few laps, I was cringing so hard."

McGuire fended off Scites through three subsequent cautions, the latter of which staged a 16-lap dash to the checkers. As the laps began to wane, the pressure on McGuire mounted. Scites assault led to contact on at least three occasions, as the veteran searched for an avenue around McGuire's No.. 22.

Ultimately, Scites would use every trick at his disposal---and then he used a right-front fender.

The bout for first reached a climax as the frontrunners rounded turn three on the final circuit when Scites planted the nose of the No. 06 into the rookie stripes on McGuire's back bumper.

"I had to rough him up; I had to go for it. I knew the opportunity was there with {Pulliam} dropping out. When that happens, you've got to capitalize on it, and Michael did," Scites said. "Man, that kid's good."

The bump-and-run sent McGuire skating up the banking. The front stretch transformed into a drag strip as the top two lunged for the finish line, exchanging doughnuts and trading paint in a fantastic photo-finish. The official margin of victory was .142 seconds.

Kris Bowen equaled his best performance of the year with a third place showing, and Josh Berry and Deiny rounded out the top five, respectively.

McGuire has enjoyed a record-setting career. Among his achievements, the Vinton, Va., native boasts five previous Late Model wins, coming at Franklin County Speedway and Orange County Speedway, where he holds the record for youngest Late Model feature winner. Neither track is NASCAR-sanctioned.

McGuire didn't hesitate when asked where his latest history-making triumph ranks.

"It ranks first...Right at the top."

Youth Is Served

Play by Play Magazine

When Trevor Bayne wheeled the fabled Wood Brothers Ford across the finish line at Daytona last month to become the youngest driver ever to win the Daytona 500, youth was officially served in America's most popular racing series.

Actually, the face of NASCAR has been getting younger and younger for over a decade, and not just in the sport's top division.

If you're a regular reader of this publication, hopefully, you've been keeping up with the accomplishments of our very own local racing phenom Michael McGuire. The Vinton native and William Byrd Middle School 8th grader has been running circles around grown men since he was 12-years-old.

In the short three-year period since he climbed out of his go-cart and into a big boy Stock car, McGuire has won races and championships in two different states and managed to rewrite the record books at a number of historic venues along the way. Not bad for a kid who still can't legally drive to McDonald's.

His God-given abilities, family influences and a father who is determined to give his son every imaginable chance to one day perform on racing's biggest stage have managed to keep the dreams and the race team afloat through some trying times.

Last month, the McGuire family racing operation got a huge assist from NASCAR when the sport's governing body announced that it was lowering its age limit for drivers competing in its weekly racing series from 16 to 15. Officials called it the next logical step for developing young talent. The McGuires think it's the next best thing to winning the lottery.

"This is huge for us because it allows Michael to compete with the best drivers in Late Model racing just an hour from home," says Tim McGuire, Michael's dad. "The Motor Mile Speedway is noted for having the toughest competition in the nation, and to be able to complete there and have him learn from that type of competition is helping us accomplish his career goals."

As luck would have it, the Director of NASCAR's Weekly Racing Series is Lynn Carroll, who was the Chief Steward at the Motor Mile Speedway from 1988-2006. Carroll and his wife Stephanie, who also was a fixture at the track for years, reside in the Glenvar section of Roanoke County. During the racing season Lynn commutes to Charlotte a couple of days a week, travels all over the country and oversees 56 NASCAR sanctioned tracks in the United States and Canada, including five here in Virginia.

He had a significant amount of input into the creation of this new age policy, and although he has never seen Michael race in person, he's seen firsthand how parents are now immersing their kids in racing at a younger age from one end of the country to the other.

"I feel like it's a good thing because people are getting their kids involved at a much earlier age and honestly, most of them have plenty of experience by the time they turn 14," says Carroll.

McGuire falls right into that category. He'll be allowed to race the two months prior to his 15th birthday this June thanks to special NASCAR and track exemptions that are based on his extensive resume'. After running up and down the east coast and racing at tracks that weren't NASCAR sanctioned the past two years, the McGuires now plan to concentrate their efforts on the Motor Mile Speedway each weekend this season, starting with the track's season opener on April 2.

"They pay a good purse and that tends to bring the better drivers in to compete," says Carroll. "If Michael can go up there and win a race then he's beaten the best."

Returning to their old stomping grounds would seem like a homecoming advantage for Tim and his younger brother Tony, who together oversee the operation of the race team, but as with most things, being successful in different decades isn't as easy as it looks.

"Honestly, Tony and I are going to school right now ourselves because the technology, the shock packages and what they are doing with the set-ups today is so different than when we raced," he says. "Technology in our sport is a great thing, but Michael is probably going to have to bear with us until we can get a handle on these new set-ups."

Technology isn't the only thing that has changed since the McGuire brothers used to be a threat to win the Late Model feature at the speedway each and every Saturday night. When Tim won the first track championship in 1988 on the four-tenths of a mile oval, that was known back then as the Pulaski County Speedway, he captured the title with a Chevrolet that cost about $22,000 to build from bumper to bumper.

"If you do the complete car from start to finish first class and do a lot of the work yourself, it's about a $70,000 investment these days," says McGuire. "A good engine for our class of racing is about $24,000."

The team hopes to cover some of those costs by adding some new decals to the car this season.

"We still have sponsorship opportunities on the car and when a company is looking to spend its advertising money wisely, we think this is great way to do it," he says. "Especially, since we're going to be staying close to home this year."

And, hopefully, hanging out in victory lane.

Full Speed Ahead

Roanoke Times

It was late March when Vinton's Tim McGuire and his 12-year-old son, Michael, walked into the office at Orange County Speedway in Rougemont, N.C.

Kim Foushee, the race track's director of operations, remembers the scene like yesterday.

"Actually, I was like, 'Oh my gosh, here we go again!'" Foushee recalled. "I've had several folks to come in here and promote kids.

"But they didn't have the credentials and the experience that Michael had. So I told Tim here's the deal: We've got to fill out all this paperwork, and, of course, we've got to make sure that the insurance will cover him.

"And I said: 'We'll give him, a shot. Now if he goes out there and tears everybody up, we're going to have a problem.'"

A problem?

How about no problem.

At Orange County Speedway's 2009 postseason banquet Friday night, Michael

McGuire, now 13, was crowned Limited Sportsman Division champion and voted the most popular driver by fans.

The kid tore them up, all right. He won in his third start on the fast 3/8-mile oval, and won four times overall, never finishing out of the top three in a dozen 50-lap races with fields that averaged from 18 to 20 cars.

More importantly, the 5-foot-2, 108-pound youngster quickly displayed to all of his much older competitors that he can handle a 3,200-pound race car. Ask South Boston's Joey Throckmorton, the 26-year-old driver who finished second to McGuire in the division.

"I didn't really think he would be as good as he was," Throckmorton said. "I mean, nothing beats experience.

"I had heard a lot of junk. Nobody thinks a 13-year-old can drive. I mean they can't even drive on the road, much less drive a racecar.

"Well, if you went to the racetrack and didn't know which car he was in, you definitely wouldn't be able to tell he's 13 by the way he drove."

Early green flag

Michael McGuire has been around racing all his life.

His father raced for nearly two decades, winning Late Model Stock titles at Franklin County Speedway and Radford's New River Valley Speedway (now Motor Mile Speedway). His uncle Tony McGuire is a two-time winner of the Bailey's 300 at Martinsville Speedway, an event that's akin to the Daytona 500 for the Late Model Stock division. His grandfather Charles "Squeek" McGuire once owned the Callaway track and has been a Roanoke Valley mainstay in the auto parts salvage business.

"I grew up watching my uncle [Tony] race at Motor Mile," Michael said. "I heard [my dad] was pretty good, too.

"So I've always wanted to do it. I love going fast . ... I've watched races on TV a lot. The Speed Channel is my favorite channel."

His first fast ride was a go-kart, a gift from his father on his fifth birthday.

Michael hasn't stopped mashing a gas pedal and working a steering wheel since. At age 8, he got his World Karting Association license and started running races throughout the mid-Atlantic region. He won the Virginia series championship twice and captured the Tennessee series title three times before he turned 11.

Last summer, he moved into the seat of a full-sized stock car, winning five races at Franklin County Speedway's Mod4 division. However, when the speedway eliminated the four-cylinder division after last season, the McGuires had to find another place to go racing.

The outlet was provided by Orange County, a historic track where NASCAR's old Busch Series ran from 1983-94 and produced such winners as Jack Ingram, Tommy Houston, Dale Jarrett and Mark Martin. Reigning four-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson cut his teeth there as well in the mid-1990s.

No longer a NASCAR-sanctioned facility, where all drivers must be 16, Orange County provided the age loophole the McGuires needed. A couple of weeks after their initial visit to the track, the McGuires loaded up the same race car in which Tony won at Martinsville in 1994 and went back for Michael's "driver tryout" session.

"We wanted Michael to come in and have a practice by himself so we could evaluate him," Foushee said. "And I'm watching him go around the track, and I'm telling this guy standing with me, 'The kid has got a good line and he's pretty darned fast.' So we decided to give him a shot."

The kid delivers

When he showed up for his first face two weeks later, Michael McGuire confessed he felt like some kind of circus act.

"Yeah, I got a lot of looks ... a lot of weird looks," he said, laughing. "That's one of the things I hate most about going to a new track where no one knows you. When you first walk out of the trailer with your [driver's] suit on, you just want to get in the car so they can't even see you."

He can't hide anymore.

"All the looks I first got kind of changed right when they saw me drive," Michael said. "After a few races, they got to know me, and they knew that I'm a clean, hard, good driver and that I can race."

"It was a big move racing 30- and 40-year-olds. Sure, it's pressure. But my dad always tells me, 'There's no pressure.' ... I'm just a kid and I'm just trying to get some seat time out here."

He got much more than that. Michael finished third in his first race. In his third start, he led all 50 laps and won.

"The best feeling ever ... just totally awesome, I'm telling you," Michael said.

His 42-year-old crew chief never could have expected such a glorious summer of repeated weekend trips to eastern North Carolina from the team's Garden City shop in Roanoke.

"It was impressive stuff," Tony McGuire said. "Michael took right to it the first day we sat him down. It was unbelievable.

"We were really nervous because we didn't know what to expect. I mean our race car is four years from being an antique. To be honest, we figured he'd be bouncing off some walls and it was going to be some carnage. We just assumed it was going to happen. Well, I didn't have to put a fender on that car the whole year.

"Michael is just crazy consistent. We didn't have the fastest car, but by lap 30 of the 50-lap race, he's right there with them. And then when he got up there with the rest, he just wore them out at the end in some of those races."

Down the road

Like most teenage leadfoots who are hooked on stock car racing, Michael McGuire's ultimate goal is one day to make it to the major leagues – NASCAR's Sprint Cup series.

This past season, Joey Logano became the youngest driver ever to capture a Cup event, winning at New Hampshire only 35 days after his 19th birthday.

"Seeing Logano do that at his age got me excited," Michael said. "My dream is to make it into NASCAR at 21. Because I want to have fun with it, I want to go up through the ranks, I don't want just to take a huge leap into NASCAR."

Of course, the McGuire family doesn't have the kind of money like Logano or some of the other young guns who have bought their way into a Cup ride.

"That's one of the reasons I drive my butt off," Michael said, laughing.

Next season will be a major test for the Vinton racing clan. The plan is for Michael to run the United Auto Racing Association circuit that runs 150-lap events at tracks throughout the Southeast. The series features Late Model Stock cars with 390 four-barrel carburetors, plus some big-money car owners such as ex-Cup crew chief and current television analyst Larry McReynolds, whose son, Brandon, runs the tour. "It's going to be harder there," Tim McGuire acknowledged. "The races are longer, but the good thing is the UARA don't allow tire changes other than wreck repairs, so we don't need a full pit crew."

Can Michael make it to the big leagues?

"We don't have the ability to write a $3 million check to give him an opportunity," Tony McGuire said. "He's going to have to bust into the sport on raw talent and somebody recognizing him.

"It's a hand sport to break into, but I honestly believe that if anybody from our area is going to do it, this kid has a big head start. When he's 18 years old, he's going to be hard to beat. He's hard to beat now."

Foushee, who opened the door for Michael by letting him race at Orange County, said she believes it will happen.

"Michael is the most genuine article there is." Foushee said. "I've not seen a seen a bit of super race-car attitude to come out of him. He's got all the credentials, he's got the skill and he's got the personality. He's well on his way."

On Wednesday, Michael McGuire will be in Charlotte, N.C., where he will visit NASCAR's No.1 racing organization – Hendrick Motorsports. He will tour the facility and meet with some representatives of the team's driver development department.

"It's a cool thing that Michael has got their attention enough that they're willing to meet him," Tim McGuire said. "At least we're on the radar, and that's what you want right now. And then, we'll see where the road takes us."