Saturday, April 14, 2012

Leavine Family Racing and Scott Speed: Texas Proud

Bob Leavine and Scott Speed, Leavine Family Racing owner and
driver chat with Skirts and Scuffs prior to Friday's qualifying.
Credit: LJ Cloud/Skirts and Scuffs
Bob Leavine wasn’t born in Texas, but he got here from Florida as quick as he could.

The Leavine (pronounced Le-VINE) Family Racing’s shop is in Concord, N.C., but they’re based out of the East Texas town of Tyler. “We’re the only Sprint Cup team in Texas. We’re kind of proud of that," Bob says.

Credit: LJ Cloud/Skirts and Scuffs
The second-year team begins their limited season today at Texas Motor Speedway with the No. 95 TWD Drywall Ford driven by Scott Speed, who strapped into the car for the first time on Thursday and qualified in 38th place on Friday. Even with a car bought from Roush Fenway, that’s no mean feat given the track conditions and the level of competition. They plan to run 13 other races this season, representing their Texas-based sponsorships proudly.  

LFR also fields an ARCA team for grandson Michael Leavine. 

Speed says that running for a Texas-based team is, "different obviously when you come to a place like this. For 90% of everyone Charlotte is the home race, and it still is for us because it’s where we call home, but it’s almost like you get another home race here because Bob has so much family and friends and  sponsors, so many ties to the area. It’s added support, added excitement," in addition to giving them extra home races.  

In fact, one of the things about Speed that Leavine considered when the team knew they would be hiring a new driver for 2012 was who would fit the team and its sponsors well. "As you well know, it's all about the people on the car, the sponsors." 

Mugging for the camera after chatting before qualifying.
Credit: LJ Cloud/Skirts and Scuffs
Speed impressed him as a team player who would both represent the sponsors well and still challenge the technical side of the team. 

Speaking on their experience last year, Leavine said, “We didn’t get out of the car what I thought we should." The team only ran four races but he could tell they needed a change. "By getting Scott, I felt like we had a better opportunity every time we go out and practice, to get the car better, and it’s going to challenge Wally (crew chief Wally Rogers) to give him a better package." 

Leavine added, "He’s going to be challenged to give Wally enough feedback to get us a better car, which in turn is going to give us a better team. And I thought Scott wanted that. Just from what I knew about him, listened to and read about last year, that he wanted something he could grow with and be part of. That was my goal, whether he decides to change that or not, that was my goal." 

Animated and charismatic, Leavine described his goals in starting a Cup team. "One, have fun. Two, have a platform, which is our NASCAR team, where Michael and my daughter Melinda - she’s team manager- to go up in NASCAR as I get older and I can say ‘Y’all have fun, I’ll watch ya.’ And the third one was there was a lot of really good people in NASCAR I wanted to meet. Like Scott."

Leavine added, "There are some people you don’t want to meet, and unfortunately you find out who they are, but that’s just the way it is.  Wally, our crew chief, I wouldn’t trade him for the world. If they said here’s a list, who do you want?…Him. Him.” 

Family means a lot to this group. Speed understands that now that he has his own family. "I don’t think about it in the car, but it certainly affects everything out of the car. It changes a lot of your perspective on life. Honestly we were already pretty happy people but this made it even better. It changed what you work for, you don’t work for yourself anymore, you work for your family. So when I’m depositing money, I’m not thinking I can go buy something cool with that, I’m thinking I can go buy something for Juliet." 

“All my life I’ve been an underdog person," said Leavine. "On our construction side that funds a lot of this, I started out 35 years ago, my wife and I. Never worked for a general contractor, sold our house, took $2000 and built close to a hundred-million dollar firm. Always the underdog.  That gave me a  lot of incentive to try harder, put together really neat people, and be family, and that’s important. That’s why we call it Leavine Family Racing. 


  1. Fascinating story. I will now follow them with interest. I am glad Scott Speed is racing again. I felt sorry for him when he was thrown in to the racing arena with so little NASCAR experience.