David Starr: Working hard to make his lifelong dream come true

As a child, many dream of being a fireman, policeman or maybe a doctor ... not David Starr. His career path was laid out from the time he was a young boy; he knew he wanted to be a racecar driver. Even now, as an adult, he sees people he was in elementary school with and they remember his dreams and aspirations.

The path to racing was set into play by David’s father, Jimmy, who worked as a crew chief for Cup drivers Tony Bettenhausen Jr. and Ronnie Chumley. Starr credits spending time at the track with his dad for triggering his interest in racing, saying, “I can remember being 3 or 4 years old, I remember it just like it was yesterday." Jimmy Starr left racing while David was still young, but David’s eyes and heart remained true to the sport.

Asking Starr if his racing reality is a “pinch me” moment, he told me, “A.J. Foyt is a really good friend of mine, I spend time with A.J. and there are really a lot of moments where you just have to pinch yourself.” Starr continued to say, “I have been blessed. It hasn’t been easy, there has been a lot of passion and a lot of sacrifices. Dreams are hard to accomplish, so you have to work hard at them.”

Starr has been racing in NASCAR since 1998 and has focused his efforts on the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and a handful of starts in Nationwide. This year that all changed as Starr made his Sprint Cup debut at his home track of Texas Motor Speedway. Asked what has left the greatest impact on his career, Starr replied, “I think it’s being competitive in the Truck Series over the years. We have won some races, are consistently a team that runs up in the front. I think that has helped my career. When I have a truck that is at best, a seventh-place truck, we can usually bring it home seventh or sixth. Finishing the races without wrecking, just being a tough competitor and being a good sportsman.” That is what Starr credits to his longevity in NASCAR.

Starr poses for Skirts and Scuffs photographer Debbie Ross at Texas Motor Speedway
Currently piloting the No. 81 Zachary Toyota Tundra for SS Green Light Racing in the NCWTS, Starr is coming off of an 11th-place finish (on Wednesday) at Bristol Motor Speedway and is 11th in the points standing.

Starr has said that this year he has a goal of a top-5 finish. So with only nine races to go, I asked what is needed to make that happen. “Trying to be more consistent week in and week out, we need to continue to have more top-5 finishes. Even though we finished 11th last night, we need to finish better then that. These last nine races are going to be crucial, the points race is so tight. If we can get finishes in the top-5 to top-10, we can finish in the top-5 in points.”

Starr already raced at Bristol for the NCWTS race, but he is not done yet. He still has two more races to go this week, attempting his first ever triple-duty stint. Even more remarkable is that Starr and his team, Leavine Family Racing, have brought aboard a new sponsor for all three races. AdvoCare signed on to sponsor Starr for five Cup races this season and also the two additional races at Bristol this week.

Bringing a new sponsor into NASCAR during this rough economy is important to Starr and Leavine Family Racing. “It’s really, really big with the economy being so tough. There are a lot of companies who want to get into NASCAR but a lot of them are just waiting to see if the economy gets any better, there is a lot of interest but just not a lot of companies stepping out to do anything,” said Starr. He continued by saying, “For AdvoCare to come in for the first time and give us the opportunity means a lot. I feel that me (as a driver) and everyone on the Leavine Family Racing team, we need to do a great job for them.” AdvoCare is a direct sales health and wellness company in which Starr himself has been a personal endorser for about nine years. (For more on AdvoCare and Starr’s endorsement of their products, visit advocare.com.)

After a 13-year career in the NCWTS, does Starr aspire to drive in the Cup Series on a regular basis? You bet your bottom dollar! In response, Starr said, “A racecar driver’s dream is to compete in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. If it ends tomorrow, I have been blessed, I have lived my dream and could be at peace but that’s not good enough.” Through the opportunities given to him by Leavine Family Racing team owners Bob and Sharon Leavine, Starr has a hunger for what lies ahead. 

Easing his transition into the Cup Series this year has been veteran crew chief Wally Rogers, whose experience is an asset to the team. After serving as a crew chief for multiple teams, including more notably Elliott Sadler and Randy LaJoie, Rogers joined the Leavine Family Racing team. Starr said of Rogers, “He is the success behind the organization. He gives us great race cars to race and is just a good leader to the team.”

The Leavine Family team is new to racing as an owner, but Bob Leavine, team owner, also owns WRL General Contractors, Ltd. and has been involved in racing as a sponsor for some time. This year is the first year for the Leavine team to be on track full-time. For Starr, being an integral part of the team’s foundation is an honor. “It feels really good, it’s a testament of all the good people that Bob and Sharon have put together. They buy the best equipment they can buy, Roush race cars and our engines are Doug Yates. Every piece of the puzzle is crucial, we got good equipment, good people and the desire, heart and determination. Putting all that together we are going to keep fighting and keep getting better every week.”

Team owner Bob Leavine and Starr sign autographs
at the From Start to Finish Line event at TMS.
The Fans 

At the heart of every racer lies the fans who cherish them, celebrate their successes and comfort them in their times of struggle. David Starr holds his fans close to his heart and through a recent event at Texas Motor Speedway got to spend some one-on-one time with them. 

The event, From Start to Finish Line, gave fans the opportunity to meet Starr, Rogers and members of the Leavine Family Racing team and have dinner and participate in a Q&A session. With Starr and the Leavine Family having their roots in Texas, Texas Motor Speedway was the perfect host for their fan fest. 

Starr said of the event, "It's always neat, without the fans and the people supporting you, you would not have sponsors. You always have to get back to the community. I love my fans that have supported me over the years and anytime you get up close and personal with them, it's really a lot of fun."

Another way the Leavine Family Racing team is giving back to the fans was through a pretty neat fan contest (which ended yesterday). They were sponsoring a David Starr Fan Fanatic Photo Contest for the winner to receive pit passes to Atlanta Motor Speedway. For future contests, check out
 LeavineFentonRacing's Facebook page as well as the website http://www.lfr95.com/.

In closing, I asked Starr, given his vast experience and time in NASCAR, if given the chance to be NASCAR president for the day what changes would he make. Starr's response surprised me a bit. He hesitated, thinking, and said, "NASCAR has done a great job over the years. Everything NASCAR does for all three series is for the betterment of the sport and of the fans." As he thought a little on the question, an answer did come to mind. "Maybe they (NASCAR) could spread the financial part a little bit, put a little bit more money to the team owners especially in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and spread the wealth a little bit per say."

I would like to thank Mr. Starr for taking the time to speak with me in the midst of his busy week at Bristol and to Courtney McGarry for allowing me the time and opportunity.  

Skirts and Scuffs will feature an interview with Leavine Family Racing fabricator Jarrett Gresham as part of our Over the Wall Series. Look for Melissa Wright's post in the coming weeks.

NASCAR By the Numbers and In the Rearview Mirror (looking back at NASCAR's history) are Amanda's two weekly columns with Skirts and Scuffs, but as an Associate Editor her duties are limitless. Amanda also strives to provide exclusive interviews for the readers of Skirts and Scuffs. To read her past columns and interviews, click here. Feel free to follow Amanda on Twitter.
David Starr: Working hard to make his lifelong dream come true David Starr: Working hard to make his lifelong dream come true Reviewed by Unknown on Friday, August 26, 2011 Rating: 5