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March 13, 2015

Evernham's Brother Finds Family Driving LFR Hauler

Younger sibling followed champion crew chief into NASCAR, makes a name for himself.

Catching up with Leavine Family Racing team hauler driver Willie Evernham about his trip from Concord, N.C. to Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the Kobalt 400.  


By: Willie Evernham, No. 95 Leavine Family Racing Hauler Driver
 
Racing has always been a part of my family’s life, even while growing up in Red Bank, New Jersey. My uncle used to take my older brother, Ray (Evernham, famed NASCAR crew chief and NASCAR Hall of Fame nominee), and I to the local short and dirt tracks growing up. This sparked our interest in the sport, so when Ray was 18 and I was 15, we got our first car. Three years later, we were racing locally and in the newly reopened IROC series in Trenton, New Jersey.
 
While competing, Ray and I met a bunch of people who work in the Sprint Cup garage now, like Wally and Gary Rogers. In fact, many people involved in NASCAR, like Les Richter, were involved in IROC at the time. I tried driving cars for a while but just didn’t have the right frame of mind for it. I was more into the fun side of racing, so I started working in maintenance and eventually was building the transmissions for the cars. Ray had a job at IROC as well. It basically just happened for us. We didn’t plan it. We just took the jobs because we thought it was cool to get paid to work on racecars.
 
A couple of years later, Ray had moved down to North Carolina to work in NASCAR. I joined him once I realized that you could only go so far in the IROC series. I then started with Derek Cope and Jay Frye at MB2 Motorsports. I moved around after that, learning as many different things as I could. Sometimes racing can be trying, but it’s something that I’ve always liked to do. It’s what I know. I’ve tried to work other normal jobs and it just wasn’t meant to be. 
 
This year is my 31st year in the racing industry, and sometimes the pressure just gets to you and you need to take a step back to better yourself. So when the Leavine Family Racing opportunity came along, it just seemed like everything fell into place. I’m really glad to be here. What Bob and Sharon Leavine (team owners) are doing is really good. They are building a great race team that will last for years by building a good foundation first, just like you would do when building a house. 
 
Making the trip from Atlanta to Las Vegas was a little stressful. As a hauler driver, you try to think of situations and think, “Okay, if this happens, what can I do now?” It’s part of my responsibility to make sure the team has everything they need out at the track so they can concentrate on the car, so I’m always working hard to make everyone’s life easier. 
After we got back to the shop from Atlanta, I stayed up to boot up the generator, fuel up the truck and unload everything I could so that when the guys got to the shop all we had to do was unload the car. Then on Tuesday, my secondary driver and I left the shop and hit the road to Vegas. The route got a little rough in Texas when we started hitting snow, and I was worried we wouldn’t make it in time for the hauler parade on Thursday night but everything worked out. We ended up traveling most of the way with two other haulers, which made me feel better just in case anything were to happen to one of us. The hauler guys are really like a big family, always radioing over to make sure you are okay if they see you out on the road. 

During the race on Sunday, I tried to get a little bit ahead again by preloading everything I could back into the truck. I also helped out the team by grabbing anything they needed off the truck or helping hand off fuel cans and tires to the pit crew. When we had about 50 laps left, I headed back to hauler to try to get the bottom completely loaded so that all the team and I had to do was load the car in. There’s a test in Charlotte on Wednesday we are trying to make, so we needed to leave as soon as we could. There always seems to be something coming down the road!

To read on NASCAR.com, visit: http://www.nascar.com/en_us/news-media/articles/2015/3/9/willie-evernham-leavine-family-racing-hauler-driver-charlotte-to-las-vegas.html
 

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