Amy and I cheered from the stands when veteran NASCAR driver Sterling Marlin, driving for Abingdon’s Morgan-McClure Motorsports, won the 1994 Daytona 500 — his first victory in what then was then called the Winston Cup Series.
Marlin and Morgan-McClure would win the 500 again in 1995. Those were the glory years for the Abingdon team. Their number 4 car carried Kodak sponsorship for 18 years.
But Marlin failed to win in 1997 and left the team. Bobby Hamilton drove the Kodak car in 1998 and won at Martinsville. That would be the last victory for the team. Kodak left as team sponsor in 2003 and Morgan-McClure hasn’t fielded a full-season effort in the last two years. They enjoyed a brief return to glory in August when driver Scott Wimmer qualified for the Bristol race and finished 29th but that was a one-race deal.
Now comes news that Morgan McClure’s racing complex along Interstate 81 in Abingdon is for sale. Asking price: $8.5 million.
”We’re working on a couple things in terms of sponsorship and we’re looking into different avenues," team co-owner Tim Morgan, told the Bristol Herald-Courier in a phone interview. "We want to race, but we don’t have unlimited funds to where we can wait forever."
NASCAR today is dominated by multi-car teams owned by mega-owners like Hendrick Motorsports, Roush Racing and Joe Gibbs. Richard Petty’s operation is now owned by someone else and that team recently announced a merger with Yates Racing and will be driving Fords next year.
The famed Wood Brothers Racing Team of Stuart has also fallen on hard times and moved to the Charlotte area in 2003 but fails to qualify for many races.
Kodak abandoned NASCAR sponsorship completely in 2008 and now spends most of its marketing money on professional golf. At one time, it shared sponsorship space on race cars with Circuit City, the Richmond-based electronics retailer that closed its doors in March of this year.