Signature Profiles Plus-Jim McClure
Our last interview with Jim McClure began with the difficult task of catching up to Top Fuel racers. I've found one way to catch up is to arrange a meeting point and then have them stop. We met Jim and Phyllis McClure on the way to a race at a truck stop in Beckly, West Virginia. Gary and I previously agreed to transport Jim's Overkill engine to frame builder James 'Puppet' DiTullio who is building Jim's new bike. We loaded up the Overkill engine, snapped photos, and then joined Phyllis and Jim McClure inside their new truck. Take a step with us into the posh interior of the McClure TL2000 and sit down with me as I interview one of the most genuine champions in motorcycle drag racing.
JIM McCLURE CHATS WITH DWIGHT:
Do you have a nickname?
"Da Judge. That came about when I had a 68 Sportster and I used to do burnouts in front of a bar back home. A State Trooper got wise to it, and was waiting from me one night with his lights off. He chased me and I went into a turn at about a hundred, and crashed. After that Phyllis had 'Da Judge' painted on that bike."
"Who are your heroes?
"Dale Earnhardt ."
What are your scariest moments?" The engine explosion at Atlanta in 97. Way back it was the usual tank slappers, but I haven't any in years since I haven't raced any flexiflyers." (Not since Puppet has been building his frames starting about 1985. Puppet adds extra tubes to his frames to prevent tank slappers)
Do you work out?"I work out in the winter, golf in the summer."
Do you have a special diet? "No. Not really. I don't eat a lot, and I try to eat the right things."
What mental routine prepares you for each run? "No. Maybe I do get pumped depending on who is running."
Do you have time for a hobby?
"Golf. At least once a week."
Many motorcyclists ride to unravel. What do you do to unwind?
"Work on the bike."
What personal quality (trait) would you want your fans to admire most?
"Being nice to the fans and being accessible."
What's most important?
"Thrills. If it were for the money I would be in the wrong business. I also like the family atmosphere we have in this sport.
Are you happy? "Sure."
What could make you happier?"A nice big sponsor! So I don't have to pay the bills."
If you could change one thing about motorcycle drag racing, what would it be?
"I'd like to see more exposure and major sponsorships. That would give us the potential to help with the financing of these expensive toys."
When driving a car, do you always wear a seatbelt?
- Yes. 2. No. 3. If yes, really?
What's the most fun you ever had racing?
" In 1985, the year I beat all the inline supercomps. When I started racing Harleys…The other racers used to say…Who gets to race the Harley. Then it turned to…Who has to race the Harley. I won the whole year and then they changed the rules."
When asleep do you ever dream you’re riding a motorcycle?
Where do you find the most peace in your life?
"When I leave the shop behind. I'm most relaxed when I leave the house on the way to a race. My worries are over."
Besides racing, do you have a full-time occupation?
"Master Performance Cycles. Overkill Engines. I used to work on street bikes. My son Jimmy who is 36 is the machinist."
How did you get started in Motorcycle drag racing?
"I never seen a motorcycle until I was 18. I was born and raised in West Virginia and joined the Air Force. A friend had a Harley…I rode it and that was it. From the first time I ever rode a Harley, I always out rode everybody."
Can you describe the G-forces at the tree? The launch?
"I can't remember."
What do you worry about the most?
"I don't worry about a lot of things. Paying bills. Getting ready for the next race."
In a few words, how would you sum up…yourself?
"Crazy old man…I reckon."
What vehicle do you drive on the street?
"I drive a Chevy van to the bank and back. Phyllis, my wife, has a 98 Corvette."
Phyllis added, " My play toy."
What quality do you admire most in other people?
"Honesty. I like a fair fight. I might not win, but I want a fair fight."
You’re a skilled racer…What separates you from the fast traffic on smooth public highways?
"My rear bumper."
When frustrated. What do you do first?
1.Erupt 2.Withdraw 3.Try to be cool.
"I don't blow up. It won't change nothing, blowing up."
Who means the most to you?
"Phyllis, my wife."
"Not really. We need to do this after a few beers; then I'd have plenty of additional things to say. I can't accept awards. I can't give acceptance speeches. Call me on the phone, then I'll talk."
Jim added later…
" I raced a Harley when a Harley wasn't cool. It's always fun if you make something go fast."
Last interview over the phone, Jim said…
" On the Top Fuel Harley side it's better because of IHRA and Bill Bader. He put Harleys on with the cars, and the fans love it. The other import guys don't have any place to run. A Harley could be a second slower than an import and still have ten times more people out to watch it. My plans for the rest of the season are to win it all!"
At the end of the last interview I didn't have any trouble finding a final word for this gentle champion. Gary agreed then, he agrees now. Our one word description of this brave racer should be modest, but because he had an engine blow up under his chest and is still thrilled to ride, and because his enthusiasm flows, our one word for Jim is…