Profile On: Lori McCarl!

Profile On: Lori McCarl!
Lori at the Knoxville Raceway Banquet with Carson (L), Terry and Austin
Friday, June 22, 2012
Lori McCarl, Perspective of a Racing Wife and Mom
by Joanne Cram

Life as a racer’s wife can be crazy, but add to it, wife and mom of two racing sons, and life is just plain full throttle!

When Lori met Terry, she had no idea that her life would end up enthralled in sprint car racing. She had never seen nor been to sprint car races, and had no clue what Terry and his dad were always up to out in the garage. So back in 1983, she tagged along with Terry on his first trip to Knxoville Raceway. Nearly three decades later, she’s still a fixture at Knoxville Raceway.

When the two were first married in 1989, they both had “normal” jobs, and Lori had no idea that down the road, sprint car racing would be how they made their living. Terry was a part time racer and was working towards being a full time racer. His dream was realized when he was asked to drive the Country Builders Construction #88 in 1990. Lori had quit her job with UPS, and the McCarl’s headed for the west coast for the season. After a few seasons in California, Terry was ready to move on to the World of Outlaw circuit, and in 1992, they sold their house, and hit the road racing with the World of Outlaws with her husband. That same year Lori and Terry were pregnant with Austin, making their World of Outlaw debut year very interesting to say the least; a driver, a pregnant wife, and a crew guy, touring the country in a dually to go Outlaw racing!

After Austin was born, the McCarl’s decided to move back to Altoona and race as much from their home base as possible. Lori stayed home to raise Austin, as day care was just too expensive, and worked part time jobs here and there and during the off season. Terry raced locally as well as All Stars and Outlaw shows that came close to home. A few years later, the family added Carson to the mix.

When Carson was just six months old, Terry broke his hand pretty seriously, forcing him to step back from racing to recover. That was the year that they began their promotions business, which has been thriving ever since.

Growing up with a dad as a racer, naturally the boys wanted to do some racing of their own. Lori says they didn’t get to do as much as they had wanted to due to Terry’s busy schedule, but long time family friend and crew chief, Glenn Freeland, was very helpful in getting the boys to some microsprint races. Juggling schedules has always been a challenge for the McCarls. The boys have been able to maintenance their own cars, which helps a lot with a three car team of sprint cars.

1995 began Lori’s “full time job” with the birth of the Front Row Challenge race, held each year the Monday before the Knoxville Nationals. Lori says the race consumes her time with sponsor location, tickets, promotions, and merchandise.

With her two boys now nearly grown, Austin, 19 and Carson, 17; Lori feels that her job for all three men in her life is still to be the cheerleader. However, her stress level has now tripled! All three men are spoiled in Lori’s opinion- she has them race ready before every race. Suits and Nomex layers are all washed, helmets are cleaned, all of their race stuff is packed and ready. She’s happy to do it, and it keeps her mind busy and not dwelling on the stress of her two babies racing. Lori says it’s a different feeling having your children behind the wheel than it is your husband. She views each time Terry gets behind the wheel as going to his job, whereas when her boys get behind the wheel, she knows this is their hobby and it’s an entirely different feeling for her.

Lori watches each and every race from the pits. Good or bad, she wants to be there for whatever the race day brings. Being in the pits allows her a peace of mind she can’t get from being in the stands. If there is an issue that comes up, she can be right there to handle it. This year is a bit easier, with Carson and Terry racing at Knoxville, and Austin and Terry racing at Husets each week. Three drivers racing at Knoxville took a toll last season. Lori says it was quite nerve wracking last year when Terry and Austin were racing in the same class against each other. Her bottom line is that she wants all of her men safe when they go out to race!

The future will most likely hold more racing for the McCarl’s. As well as school choices, both boys hope to keep racing. Austin is a sophomore at Grandview this coming year and is interested in sports marketing. He would love to make a living in racing somehow. Carson will be a senior at Southeast Polk High School. He will go to college after he graduates, and has his eyes set on either Iowa State or Grandview.

As for Lori, sprint car wife and mom; she is anxiously awaiting the time in her life where she has more downtime and is less busy, can spend more time with family and looks forward to the day where she has grandkids to chase around, instead of sprint cars!