Severe wreck doesn’t quell Eric McClure’s desire to race

Eric McClure, driver of the #14 Hefty/Reynolds Wrap Toyota, speaks during a press conference after being injured in an incident last week at Talladega at Darlington Raceway on May 11, 2012 in Darlington, South Carolina. Jeff Green will be driving for McClure due to the injuries he suffred in the crash. (Photo by Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Eric McClure, driver of the #14 Hefty/Reynolds Wrap Toyota, speaks during a press conference after being injured in an incident last week at Talladega at Darlington Raceway on May 11, 2012 in Darlington, South Carolina. Jeff Green will be driving for McClure due to the injuries he suffred in the crash. (Photo by Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images for NASCAR)

DARLINGTON, S.C. — For Eric McClure, the jarring wreck that sidelined him from last Saturday’s Nationwide Series race at Talladega Superspeedway was a two-fold affirmation — first, of his desire to drive racecars for a living, and second, of the confidence he has in NASCAR equipment.

McClure was airlifted to the University of Alabama at Birmingham Medical Center, where he spent two nights under observation. The two primary concerns, McClure said, were internal bruising (which is still painful) and the concussion he suffered in the wreck.

The accident, however, hasn’t dulled his desire to race.

“No, I love to race,” McClure said. “Sometimes I question how good I am at it sometimes. Never had a doubt that I wanted to do it again. Obviously, when you’re in a situation like that and things are happening fast, and you’ve just been through something like that, you’re a human being and thousands of things run through your head.

“As far as questioning my desire to do this, I don’t. I look forward to going through the process that NASCAR has laid out, getting the right clearance when it’s time to come back, and at this point, when they do that, I look forward to doing it and racing again and trying to get better.”

McClure added somewhat facetiously that what he learned about the safety of the cars he drives may allow him to race harder when he returns to the track.

“I’m not worried about the racecar,” McClure said. “I’m not scared, especially now. I think that I’ve hit about as hard as you can hit. I never have been scared of the car. I joked with (teammates) Jeff Green and Mike Bliss just this week that maybe I can drive the car harder now, because I don’t have to worry about it because everything’s in place — the safety equipment is amazing.

“It’s just been a crazy thing. You can talk yourself into or out of anything, but if anything I think my confidence will be a little higher just from the safety initiatives and how safe our sport really is. It’s always dangerous, but it’s a lot safer than it ever has been.”

McClure and his wife have four daughters, ages 8 weeks to 5 years old. Family time has bolstered McClure in his time off the track.

There have also been unexpected benefits to the situation.

“I got to meet Jeff Gordon, and that was really cool,” McClure said. “I’ve never got to do that in the five years I’ve done this.”

About Greg Engle 7420 Articles
Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg is the author of "The Nuts and Bolts of NASCAR: The Definitive Viewers' Guide to Big-Time Stock Car Auto Racing" and has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for Examiner.com and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.