The Dale Jr. Download

395 - Michael "Fatback" McSwain: Racing is Sacred

395 - Michael "Fatback" McSwain: Racing is Sacred

The Dale Jr. Download - August 16, 2022 - 2:40:41

At the end of the 2007 NASCAR Cup season, Michael “Fatback” McSwain suddenly departed from the garage scene, leaving a void once filled by one of the most colorful personalities in the modern stock car era. On this week’s Dale Jr. Download, McSwain joins Dale Earnhardt Jr. and co-host Mike Davis to discuss the decision to leave the sport, as well as the path he traveled to get to the top.Coming from the humble home of a phone company worker, McSwain did not grow from racing roots. After graduating from high school with no real direction, he decided to travel to Nashville to attend a diesel mechanic’s college. It was during this time that he became familiar with racing and upon returning back to North Carolina, he wanted to give it a shot himself. He and his father built a demolition derby car for the Cleveland County Fair, and had so much fun in the process that they embarked on six-cylinder racing at Cherokee Speedway.But the further they got into the racing, the more expensive it got, and soon McSwain was left to find solutions to subsidize his own on-track endeavors. He began working on other people’s race cars, ultimately finding a spot in the Robert Gee garage where a local racer was working on a NASCAR Sportsman Division ride. McSwain explained that working under Gee was very influential and taught him a lot in a short amount of time. It also helped him realize that he wanted to work in auto racing full-time.McSwain recalled driving to many different race shops and turning in applications before finally getting a call from Lake Speed’s racing operation to come and work as a fabricator. This would be his first experience working on a Cup car, and over the next few seasons he would bounce from operation to operation, spending time working under legends such as Harry Hyde and Cale Yarborough before finally ending up with Ricky Rudd at Rudd Racing Enterprises.In 2000, Rudd inked a deal to race with Yates Racing, and McSwain assumed he was once again on the job hunt. However, a few days before his honeymoon he received a call of a lifetime from Robert Yates offering him the crew chief position. McSwain explains he cut his honeymoon a few days short because he was excited to get to work in a real, full-time race shop. The Rudd/McSwain duo delivered “Fatback'' his first Cup victory in June 2001 at Pocono Raceway. McSwain shares a story of how the car came together after a mad scramble the week of the race, and the result was a completely dominant performance. He also shares a hilarious encounter with Kevin Harvick during the waning laps of the September Richmond race that same season, a situation that may have landed him in serious hot water had it come to fruition.When the decision was made to release Rudd and bring in Elliott Sadler, McSwain jumped ship and headed to Joe Gibbs Racing to man the pit box for Bobby Labonte. All was far from well though, and rising turmoil amongst the team would leave McSwain without a job. The conversation deals a lot with driver/crew chief relationships and dialogue, and McSwain offers up stories of disagreements he had with Rudd and Bobby Labonte over the years. He explains that driver attitudes over the radio during a race can affect a whole team, and when the situation reached a breaking point he felt inclined to intervene.Finally, the interview covers McSwain’s seemingly abrupt departure from the NASCAR garage scene following the 2007 season. He explains that having growing children at home influenced his decision, but now that they’re older he is open to a return to the racing world.DIRTY AIRBefore Michael joins the show, Dale, Mike, Alex and Hannah discuss:• Magnet fishing• Wild world of TikTok• Chris(topher) Buescher• Roots & Revival ASKJR presented by Xfinity:• Racing on dirt• Are drivers retiring earlier?• What FOX scheduled race would you like to call?• Bingeable television shows

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About The Show

NASCAR’s 15-time Most Popular Driver and winner of two Daytona 500s, Dale Earnhardt Jr., hosts his very own podcast, The Dale Jr Download on Dirty Mo Media. Earnhardt and co-host Mike Davis raise the bar with unparalleled perspective, candid commentary, and fascinating, first-person insight into the life of a broadcaster, celebrated racer.