Michael McGuire advances family racing legacy
VINTON–McGuire has been a well-known name in racing in southwest Virginia for many years. Charles W. “Squeek” McGuire, who passed away in July at age 71, began the family legacy as a race car driver and owner competing throughout North Carolina and Virginia on dirt and asphalt tracks, and as owner and operator of the Franklin County Speedway.
“If ever there was a ‘Roanoke Original’, this is the man,” said Mike Stevens, former WDBJ-7 television sportscaster. “Squeek’s personality was larger than life. He was a great competitor in business, life, and leisure, and very proud of his family—especially grandson Michael. I always knew that when we crossed paths, I would leave with a smile on my face.”
At age 69, McGuire was still hotrodding in his own driveway.
“My dad always viewed things from a youthful perspective,” said his oldest son, Tim McGuire. “There was not much conservative about my dad; he was always wide open.”
Sons Tim and Tony McGuire continued the family racing tradition, both Late Model champions at area tracks.
Now Tim’s son, Michael, is establishing a name for himself in stock car racing not just locally, but throughout the eastern United States.
His career started at age 5 when his father gave him a go-kart for his birthday. At age 8 he got his World Karting Association license and started winning races throughout the mid-Atlantic region, including two national wins, two Virginia series championships, and capturing the Tennessee series title three times before he was 11. His only injury thus far came during go-kart racing, when his vehicle was totally demolished.
His dad remembers asking if he wanted to continue racing after the wreck.
“Dad, I’m not going to let a wreck stop me from racing,” said Michael McGuire.
At age 12 he moved into a full-sized stock car, and has proceeded to win races, to break records, and to establish himself as an authentic competitor ever since at Franklin County Speedway, Motor Mile Speedway, and at Orange County Speedway in North Carolina, moving from Mod 4 stock cars to the Late Model Division and then last year, as a high school freshman, to the NASCAR K and N Pro Series East.
The K and N series is considered a regional developmental series with three race weekends that are in combination with the regular NASCAR Sprint Cup series. This year those races were scheduled for Bristol, Richmond, and Loudon, New Hampshire.
McGuire’s goal for his first race in that series, at the Bristol Motor Speedway in March, was to finish on the lead lap and in the top half of the strong field of competitors. Instead he qualified 4th and finished 8th out of thirty-five entries in the 125 lap race.
At Richmond International Speedway in April, where speeds average 120 mph, McGuire again raced to a top ten finish after starting from 18th position.
The McGuires had planned more K and N Pro Series races this season, but an expensive engine failure and Squeek McGuire’s deteriorating health postponed their third appearance of the year.
However, next week McGuire, and his crew, including his Uncle Tony, are all heading to the New Hampshire Motor Speedway. He, his dad, and crew chief Mark Huff are flying to minimize time lost from school. The rest of the crew will be transporting the car for the September 22 race. McGuire drives a Toyota Camry, which his crew works on at their shop in Garden City.
Michael’s main sponsors are Wood’s Towing and Transportation and Black’s Tire Service. McGuire’s race team runs a limited series on a limited budget with lots of volunteer help, donations, and corner-cutting, unlike many of the other teams in the series with major corporate backing.
“The Wood’s organization has been associated with the McGuires since the late 70’s when Tim McGuire and I were competitors in racing at many tracks around the area,” said Tommy Wood, owner of Wood’s Towing and Transportation. “I actually grew up as a kid going to races at Franklin County Speedway to watch Tim’s father, Squeek McGuire, race.”
“Wood’s has sponsored the McGuires over the years not only because of our friendship, but we feel they run very competitively and have the know-how to run up front. In this particular sport you must have the know-how and some natural driving ability. Racing is now very technical and very expensive and it takes time and backing for a driver to get where he needs to be. Wood’s finds this in Michael McGuire’s future and that is the reason we sponsor their race team. With the ability that Michael has already shown at such an early age and the determination their whole race team has shown, Wood’s feels our advertising moneys are well spent with the McGuire’s racing program. We look for good things in the future for their race team.”
McGuire is now a sophomore at William Byrd High School, ready to qualify for his regular driver’s license in early October.
“We want him to have a normal school life in public schools, as much as possible, so he can keep everything in perspective,” said Tim McGuire.
“Michael is an outstanding young man and student,” said Dr. Richard Turner, principal of William Byrd High School. “He is mature beyond his years. I consider it an honor to have a young man of his high caliber at our school. I am very proud of his accomplishments in racing. I had the opportunity to see him race myself at Bristol in March. His dad is a William Byrd graduate and was an accomplished stock car racer in his own right. Tim is an outstanding member of our community and an avid supporter of our school.”
McGuire keeps a very busy schedule. He and his team practice at Motor Mile Speedway in Radford after school, trying out different set-ups for the races.
In addition to racing, McGuire also plays ice hockey for the Greensboro Stars Team. He carpools to Greensboro on Tuesdays and Thursday during hockey season, which lasts from September until February and travels to games on weekends.
For right now, McGuire is living his dream, thanks to his family.
“My dad has carried me a long way,” said McGuire. “He didn’t push me to race. It was my idea, but he has supported me all the way.”
Tim McGuire feels fortunate that their sponsor feels the same way.
“Tommy Wood’s support has always been unconditional with no pressure whatsoever on Michael,” said McGuire. “He has never asked him to race in situations that were uncomfortable for him. Bristol and Richmond both involve race tracks where you are driving 140 mph in the corners, which didn’t intimidate Michael in the least. The Loudon speedway will have 160 mph corners.”
“I love the competition, the speed sensation, and just racing in general,” said McGuire. “I try to be aggressive, but safe. I want to race hard, but not wreck, and to be there at the end of the race.”
His father says that Michael becomes a different person in a race car and on the ice. In person, he is low-key. But once the race or the game begins, his competitive spirit emerges.
“He is surprisingly aggressive on the track and on the ice,” said Tim McGuire. ““I want him to race hard, but also to earn people’s respect. I am proud when he wins, but more proud that he is a good competitor.”
Michael McGuire is really excited to be going to Loudon, as he was to drive at Richmond International Speedway and Bristol Speedway, which are NASCAR race tracks where he hopes to be racing later in the NASCAR Truck or Nationwide series on his way to the Sprint Cup Series. He can join the Truck series at age 18, if financing becomes available. His vision for his future involves driving heavier cars on bigger tracks as time goes on, hopefully gaining sponsors who will help transform his dreams into reality.
Qualifying for the G-Oil 100 NASCAR K and N Pro Series East race at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. on Friday, September 21. The 100 lap race (105.8 miles) begins on Saturday, September 22 at 2:30 p.m. It will be shown on air delay on the Speed Channel on Thursday, September 27 at 3:00 p.m.