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A Talk With Terry McCarl [VIDEO]

Terry McCarl
Doug Johnson

If I were to say ‘McCarl’, what one thing immediately comes up in your head? No, I’m not your shrink and this isn’t an appointment for a head check. But if sprint car racing didn’t come up on your mind, maybe it’s time to call the doc for a chat while laying on his couch.

The name McCarl is one that, either loved or hated, is strongly associated and respected in the sport of open wheel racing. And it didn’t happen overnight or by winning a few big races. It took three generations to make the mark that it holds.

And right in the middle of it is Terry. From his father Lenard to his sons Austin and Carson, Terry McCarl has lived his entire life in sprints. He knows no other life. It’s been his way of life and way of making a living.

And he’s done it with great success. And no matter what you are doing, success doesn’t always come with everybody loving you all the way. Terry would be the first to tell you that.

I have personally had the opportunity to be professionally involved in his career from everything from countless wins, losses, crashes, injuries, cheers and boos. As a track announcer and media reporter I covered a lot of stuff with this guy over many years.

What would I have to say about Terry if asked? My answer is, he came to win. If it meant stepping on some toes or flipping end over end at over a hundred miles an hour and breaking some bones, he didn’t care. He came to win.

Once I announced him in victory lane while he was being lifted out of his car with a cast on his leg. This guy came to win, and he did.

Booing from the crowd didn’t slow him any. It was part of the game. I guess I learned some of that myself now that I think about it. When I was announcing his achievements in years past, there were several occasions where I took some heat from people that didn’t like hearing what I had to say.

Whether it was something thrown at my window of the announcer room or phone calls to my home, I had to explain that I was just giving credit where credit was due. It wasn’t because I favored Terry. I would have reported it the same way for any driver that was doing what he was.

I even had a guy about fifteen years ago that went out of his way during the week to follow me to a cafe were he knew I might be having lunch. He verbally attacked me while I was in the middle of a hamburger. He informed me that he would never come to the track again because he was sick of watching Terry win and hearing me talk about another track record being broken.

A few days later it was Sunday. The very same guy was the first fan thru the gate. I knew then, that yes, this was part of the game.

With all that said, Terry has won more races at Huset’s Speedway than anyone in the track’s rich history. And it certainly wasn’t because he didn’t have competition there. He beat some great drivers. And I would venture to say it could be generations from now before anyone surpasses him, and it all happened under my microphone one lap at a time.

I had a chance to catch up with my old friend on Sunday afternoon. I turned on my video recorder and had a chat with him.

Later, he put on one of his classic driving displays and was passed by Tim Kaeding in the final laps in one of the most exciting features of all time.

 

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