EAST LEROY, Mich.
Tim McCreadie exited his race car, mad at another competitor. He was almost immediately faced by a media member, the unsuspecting reporter not having seen the late-race, on-track incident that had angered McCreadie and another driver.
The hard-charging New Yorker had every right to tell the reporter to get lost. But, being the true professional he is, instead gave me a few minutes of his time to explain the situation.
I felt like a jerk and an idiot.
Two weeks later, I approached McCreadie to apologize (again) and, once more playing the true professional, he pushed it all aside (again) like it was nothing.
I still felt like a jerk and an idiot.
I tend to show drivers in my dirt late-model world a high level of respect. It’s just the right thing to do.
There are some I handle differently than others because of their personality or because we’re better acquainted or whatever, but the respect will always show up somewhere, somehow.
I had a lot of respect for McCreadie even before the way he handled my intrusion on his cool-down period a few months back.
McCreadie said after his racing days are eventually done, he would like to be remembered as someone who was professional and fair.
That’s the way I’ll remember him, along with knowing he’s one hell of a race-car driver.
By the end of the Labor Day weekend World of Outlaws Late Model Series events, McCreadie found himself slipping in points, 86 behind leader and defending champion Josh Richards.
It’s likely the Outlaws’ title run will go down to the last race at The Dirt Track @ Charlotte in November.
And I still wouldn’t be surprised if McCreadie is sitting right in the middle of it.
McCreadie led the points early and it appeared like the championship hunt might boil down to a two-man race between him and Richards.
But by August, another former champion, Kentucky’s Darrell Lanigan, had entered the battle, even leading for a time and making it a three-way fight.
Never known to duck the competition, that’s probably just the way McCreadie wants it.
McCreadie also knows how to win the Outlaws title; he did it in 2006. After a few years racing a non-committal schedule of select events, the competition level of the national touring series was the main reason he rejoined it this season.
“We’ve got these guys on this tour,” McCreadie said, “it seemed like a tough little thing to conquer, so I decided that’s what we’d do. It gets you fired up about racing again.
“My whole career has been looking to see what I can do to spark an interest again.”
By mid-September, McCreadie had four Outlaws wins. Lanigan and Richards were tied with seven each.
McCreadie didn’t win his first race until May, but a string of consistent finishes propelled him into the lead and has kept him in the hunt.
“You wanna win every race you go to,” he said, “and trying to figure out what it takes to do that has taken us a little bit. But the good thing is, when we’ve been off, we’ve still been able to run top 10 and keep pace with all the guys running this deal.”
I’ve told the story before about my first real look at McCreadie. It was during that title year in 2006 at an Outlaws event in Ohio.
The popular wheelman found himself in a dogfight for a win with Chub Frank and Matt Miller, a couple of real tough cats on any race track. McCreadie was taking his red-and-yellow No. 39 higher on the racing surface than the pack trucks had been.
And he was somehow making it work. I knew then he would be something.
He’s since proven that enough, from his championship to his string of big-dollar wins in late 2008.
But about all that, McCreadie simply says, “That was so long ago. I don’t live in the past, I try to look to the future.”
And about the future, that’s simple enough, too.
“I just wanna win as much as I can,” he said.