What Makes This Fox Sports Trio so Amazing?

Image Courtesy of Fox Sports

USA Today Sports has published an inspiring interview with the longest-standing national network trio in sports TV History. Read on to find out what gives Larry McReynolds, Darrell Waltrip, and Mike Joy such tremendous staying power.

We’re honest with each other. We don’t always just sing “Kumbaya.”


(Gluck) Only the Monday Night Football team of Al Michaels, Dan Dierdorf and Frank Gifford (11 seasons) has approached the tenure of Fox’s NASCAR team. What’s the key to longevity?

Joy: It’s about trust. If I say something wrong, Larry will correct me during commercial, and then I’ll come back and make a correction. He won’t just do the, “Jane, you ignorant slut” thing (from Saturday Night Live). We don’t hang each other out to dry.

McReynolds: We’re honest with each other. We don’t always just sing “Kumbaya.”

Joy: It is like a marriage: If I give (Waltrip) a cross look, he’ll pout for the next two segments and then we’ll talk about it. And at the end of the day, before we leave the booth, we say, “How was that?” We always do a quick debrief, and if there are any issues, we leave them there. And every week, we look forward to going to work and we look forward to who we work with.

Waltrip: You couldn’t have three bigger egos compressed into a little tiny booth – the bunker, we call it in Phoenix – but still, we respect each other. Because I know (Joy) is the best at what he does, and the same with (McReynolds). We have our area of expertise.

McReynolds: You talk about our egos, and it’s enough stacked up that it would ooze out the cracks of this motorcoach. But I think at the end of the day, the biggest chunk of our ego says, “Let’s just have a good broadcast.” Because if we do that, then all of our egos are going to grow even more. I don’t think we’ve ever lost that philosophy. We respect each other’s space, we respect what each other brings to the party, we don’t try to overwhelm one another.

Waltrip: If we do have a difference, we don’t have it on Sunday. Sometimes you have differences with your crew chief and your team, but you always resolve those before you get to the track.

McReynolds: Trust is a big word, but I think there’s a lot of other things. I think it’s give and take, it’s communication. I tell my kids all the time: “Remember, communication is listening, too.”

Joy: … the last thing I think of before I put the headset on is one of my favorite Mark Twain quotes: “I never learned anything when I was talking.”

We respect each other’s space, we respect what each other brings to the party, we don’t try to overwhelm one another.


(Gluck) The trio’s first Cup broadcast was the 2001 Daytona 500, which saw both a victory from Waltrip’s younger brother, Michael, and the death of seven-time champion Dale Earnhardt.

McReynolds: We went up there for that first practice session 14 years ago scared to death – I know I was. But it didn’t take long. I related it to some of the drivers I’d worked with. I remember with Davey Allison at a Darlington test, I went, “This is going to work. It’s here.” And I think that’s the way it was with each of us initially.

Joy: We each went into this believing in ourselves and we each came out of that first weekend, which was really trial by fire, believing in each other and knowing we could, together, make this much bigger than either of us could on our own or with other people.

Waltrip: The confidence I had was (Joy), because he’s a TV guy. He knew all the lingo. Larry and I were like, “What the hell are they talking about?”

McReynolds: (Joy) guided us through the most trying thing that a broadcast can go through in any capacity, and that was the fact a man was killed in our first broadcast.

Waltrip: We had a good leader, just like a good race team.

Joy: The priorities are to inform, entertain and the big mantra from (former FOX Sports chairman) David Hill when we started was “Explain why.”

(Joy) guided us through the most trying thing that a broadcast can go through in any capacity


(Gluck) Waltrip and his famous phrase – recited at the beginning of races – will always be linked. But even the Hall of Famer sometimes wonders if he should keep saying it.

Waltrip: I spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington D.C. (on Feb 5) in front of 4,000 people. There were 150 countries represented and dignitaries from all over the world. When I stood up, somebody hollered: out, “Boogity, boogity, boogity!”

Joy: We can’t go anywhere without hearing it.

Waltrip: Dinner last night!

Joy: Yep.

Waltrip: And sometimes I say, “Gosh, it’s kind of ridiculous. I don’t know whether I should do that or not.” But then I think about not doing it, I have moms and dads send me notes that say, “The first word my kid could ever say was, ‘Boogity.'” You know?

McReynolds: Dogs howling at the TV…

Waltrip: Yeah, people going, “I turn it down when that comes on!” It is what it is. But it does make you feel good people recognize us by our voices. I can be in a store in one aisle shopping, talking to somebody and somebody from another aisle will come over and say, “I thought that was you. I recognized your voice.”

Joy: You know it’s bad when somebody says, “If you ever decide to rob a bank, bring a note.”

I tell my kids all the time: “Remember, communication is listening, too.”


(Gluck) Shanks told USA TODAY Sports the trio could stay together “Until we have to get the paddles out.” But how much longer can they keep going?

Waltrip: Until you get up there and you can’t remember who is in which car. Somebody said the other day, “Well, you haven’t been in a car for 10 years.” I said, “I don’t have to. I raced here. I raced at every one of these tracks. I drove cars when they were as fast as these cars and harder to drive. I drove them when they’d kill you. I know what it feels like to bump into something. I know all that.” The names change; the tracks are in the same zip code. As long as we stay up on the rules and rule changes – and we have meetings with NASCAR – I know more about the sport today than I ever knew. So I guess you do it until somebody says, “Why don’t you go home?”

Joy: You look at other sports and you look at the lifespan of other commentators. Play-by-play people tend to have a longer lifespan than analysts, only because there are always people coming out of a sport that want to be analysts. Some of them are pretty good and some of them aren’t. But … I think you’d go a long way before you’d came close with any three people of equaling what a group could do for the sport like this group.

Waltrip: All the sudden Jeff Gordon decides to retire and people are saying, “Well, what’s he going to do?” Well, he’s going to do some Xfinity races for us this year and he might want to do some TV. We don’t know. He doesn’t know, I don’t think. Chad Knaus and other crew chiefs, they’re going to see what these guys are doing and say, “Hey, that’s a cool gig.” Somebody is always wanting to take your place. I don’t care whether you’re in TV or in the newspaper business or in that race car. Somebody always thinks, “I’d like to do that.” So it’s like when I drove: I do the best I can and until my boss calls me up and says, “We want to make a change,” you just keep digging.

McReynolds: And I’m in the same boat. The only thing I’ve requested is when that time comes, don’t just drop the bomb on me. Have some conversations with me.

Waltrip: Some people might say, “Maybe you ought to try something different.” Well, why would we? Coaches make me so angry. They’re winning a game and all the sudden they try to do something different. It’s just like the Super Bowl. You’ve got a running back that can carry the whole damn team into the end zone and you decide to throw it because they’re expecting Marshawn (Lynch) to carry the ball. No, that would be just how we could win the game, but let’s throw it instead. And that’s the way a lot of people are: They think, “Well maybe we need a change.” As long as it’s working, you leave it alone. Let it roll.

Perhaps Jeff Gluck sums it up best with, “When you get to that Mt. Rushmore status, it’s ‘What have you done for the sport?’ ” Fox Sports president Eric Shanks said. “Have you transformed the sport itself, its popularity, generated new fans, created a new way of broadcasting the sport? And this group falls into that category. I think they are The Beatles of NASCAR broadcasting, in the sense they created entirely new music.”

Gluck, Jeff (2015, February 16th). Fox Sports trio still leading NASCAR Field. USA Today Sports. Retrieved from http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nascar/2015/02/16/darrell-waltrip-mike-joy-larry-mcreynolds-fox-sports-nascar-booth/23522849/

Larry McReynolds on Achieving Success in Racing as a Crew Chief, Broadcaster, and Race Team Owner


On this episode of the Cars For A Living Podcast our guest was the one and only Larry McReynolds! If you are a NASCAR follower you’ll know him from his days as a crew chief where he was the leader behind several of the highest profile racers of his time, and he is the only crew chief to ever take Dale Sr a Daytona 500 win. If you’re an avid sports follower you probably know him as the most recognizable face you see on NASCAR TV coverage.

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A Conversation with NASCAR Veteran Larry McReynolds


Stock car racing is an original American sport that has legions of followers who believe it to be as hallowed as the Declaration of Independence or Bill of Rights. And in some ways it would be hard to argue against the point. That’s because since the advent of the automobile, Americans have had a love affair with cars not just as a means of transportation but also to see how fast they can go.

Larry-McReynoldsEspecially in the south, making cars go fast was and is a way of life for many. That’s because the genesis of racing in the Deep South was a result of moonshine running – an activity that not only required fast cars but was the essence of a livelihood for some in a time when moonshine was the only cash crop available to many who were impoverished in that time.

As moonshine production digressed, a more organized form of racing evolved on tracks carved out of pastures. It became the roots of competitive car racing and best of all, people came to watch. From those humble beginnings stock car racing materialized in a lot of places in the Southeast like Charlotte North Carolina, Darlington South Carolina, and Atlanta Georgia and most famously on the beach in Daytona Beach in Florida.  Racing as a sport was eventually and officially systematized into a sanctioning body with the formation of the National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) by Bill France Sr. in 1947.
Fast forward to today and it’s undeniable that racing is literally a mania that reaches all regions of America. It has become a polished and professional sport that has all the glitz and excitement anyone could want. It is a full-throttle media sport and is covered in press, television, movies, and of course on the web.

Many media personalities have come through the ranks as trained journalists and broadcasters, but other have come to the forefront because of their broadcast personality and their extensive background on the track in the profession of racing.

One such personality is Larry McReynolds. His storied career has spanned four decades. He’s worked with such luminary drivers as Donnie Allison, Tim Richmond, Mark Martin, David Pearson, Joe Ruttman, Morgan Sheppard, Ricky Rudd, Brett Bodine, Davey Allison, Lake Speed, Ernie Irvan, Kenny Wallace, Dale Jarrett, Mike Skinner, Dale Earnhardt and many more. His first duties as Crew Chief was with Kenny Bernstein followed by Robert Yates and later with Richard Childress.

He has influenced the careers of countless people in racing and today Larry is best known for his role in NASCAR racing from the broadcast booth. When you look at his career, he stands out as a significant example of the consummate racing professional and it’s for that reason a conversation with Larry made sense. So we asked him to talk to us about the sport he loves.

Join us now for insight into the life and career of one of America’s preeminent crew chiefs and one of the best known race broadcasters in the business.

How did your career in Racing begin?

It began with a little ole team out of Greenville South Carolina. It was kinda funny how it came about.

Before Greenville I was working on late-model stuff as a volunteer in Birmingham and we were having a lot of success – winning a lot of races. The guy that owned it was a man by the name of Bobby Ray Jones.

Again, I was just a volunteer, worked at night and on the weekends. And in a lot of cases you almost paid your own way too. He’d supply a bed for you to sleep in and transportation. But when it came to food, you bought your own food. If we won he might buy us a meal.

Dave Mader was the driver. For a while we won a bunch of races – big races in ‘77 & ‘78. Then Mike Alexander started driving in 1979 and we won a bunch of races with Mike.

I worked in a junkyard during the day and on racecars by night and on the weekend nights. It wasn’t unusual for me to work all day at that junkyard – run to where the shop was on the other side of town, run through a drive-through to get something to eat and then quit just in time the next morning to go home, take shower and start the whole thing all over again. I’d do that a couple of nights a week.

I tell people that racing is a little bit like a disease, it gets in your bloodstream. I really got the hankering to make a living doing this. I didn’t see how I was gonna do it in Birmingham but I wasn’t really sure how to do it. It’s amazing how things happened. God’s got a plan for everything. I worked on the counter at the junkyard and I’d run out back periodically to check parts – I’d put somebody on hold on the telephone to go check something.

We had a guy that worked the yard that drove a big forklift. He had a terrible habit. He’d pull that thing up in the back of the shop and leave the forks up. The guy that owned the yard and I got on him all the time to lower those forks. I said somebody’s gonna walk into those forks one day.

So one day in July of 1980, I had somebody on hold and was gonna run out the back door to check something – I walked out the back door and centered that fork. I mean it was a pretty serious injury. I had a ton of stitches. So I had to sit at home, hot and in the middle of the summer, for about a week for it to heal a little bit. I had read every magazine, watched every soap opera… I was bored stiff.

NASCAR used to put a little ole newsletter out, just a monthly newsletter and always on the back had classifieds. I was thumbing through it. I looked at the classifieds and a the very bottom was an ad about a new Winston Cup team starting in Greenville South Carolina – the ad said; will run full 1981 season – looking for mechanic / fabricator.

I thought about it a little bit – I called the number. A lady answered, we talked about fifteen minutes. I hung up thinking I was one of about 5 million applying. I went back to work and almost forgot about it. I came home one afternoon Mom said there’s a lady that’s called here twice for you today. I called her back and she asked me to come to Greenville and work with us a little bit to see how it goes.

I went to Greenville to work and within two weeks the owner Bob Rogers said he wanted me to come to work. I never will forget the first paycheck I got. I thought I’d died and went to heaven. I’d never made a penny working on racecars in my life. I said to myself, are you kiddin me? I actually worked on racecars and got paid?

I flew back to Birmingham, told my mom and my dad what I was gonna do. They told me it was the craziest thing they ever heard – I’d probably be back in six-months broke and hungry. They said they’d feed me but wasn’t gonna bail me out of debt. I said you guys are probably right but I gotta go try.

So I packed my little ’71 green Pinto, I hooked the U-Haul behind it (before I ever put anything in it the rear bumper was dragging the ground) I loaded my stuff in it and up to Greenville I moved. Thirty-three years later – I go back (Birmingham) for holidays, but I didn’t go back to live.

Did you get advice from others on your decision to go full time into racing?

Before I made the decision to move to the Carolinas, I wanted to talk to somebody, somebody besides my parents about how screwed up I was or give me the OK sign to go and do it.

I knew Donnie Allison and I went out to his late-model shop and chased him around his late-model car for thirty minutes trying to tell him what I was doing. He finally stopped and said; I’ll tell you what do, you need to go do it. He also said I can tell you this. That checkered flag y’all won a few weeks ago – you better go find that thing cause it’s gonna be a long time till you see another”.

He was right. It took eight years before another came around with Ricky Rudd in ‘88.

How did you get into broadcasting?

1994-2000 I had started doing some casual part time broadcasting for a company called World Sports owned by Pattie Wheeler. How that came about was Pam Miller, who is today, the Pit Producer for Fox called me and asked me to dinner. She said we’ve been watching some of your interviews; we’d like to use you. On some off weekends or maybe during a truck race or Nationwide series we like to use you for some pit reporting.

They were doing TBS & TNN stuff so from ‘95-2000 I’d do ten or twelve of those a year. Didn’t make a lot of money but I had fun and sure enjoyed it. I even did a couple of Nationwide races for CBS. I never ever, ever visualized I’d be doing it for a living.

At the end of 1999 the new NASCAR TV package was signed to begin in 2001. One day in December of 1999, I was down in the fab shop at Childress, it was one of those moments you remember – I was covered in Bondo dust from the top of my head to my feet working on the Daytona car. I was paged to the phone – picked up the phone in the body shop and it was an Australian gentleman by the name of David Hill who introduced himself as the Chairman of Fox Sports. He said We want to create a broadcast team like we have doing NFL where we have a play-by-play announcer that’s been in the sport – we’ve hired Darrell Waltrip as our driver analyst – and we’ve watched some of the tapes of stuff you’ve done over the last few years and want to know if you’d at least have a conversation with us. I said sure – I’ll have a conversation.

It took me all the way to the end of July to make my mind up. Couple of reasons it took me that long – first, I was scared to death. I thought when they put me six feet under I’d be going – two tires or four?  But the biggest stumbling block was I had just signed a new three-year contract with Richard Childress. I was only about to start the second year.

Fox had already said if you come to us, you come to us clean and not have any baggage. We don’t buy contracts out. So when I finally made my mind up to do it I went to see Richard before the Indy race and I laid it all out.
At first Richard was mad and I considered saying it was all a joke but soon he said he wasn’t real happy about it but he could tell I was sincere about why I wanted to do it. He said, who knows after a couple of years you may want to come back.

I thought – that’s good to hear, but then he said you still have a contract. So I thought oh-boy here we go. I began to think again that I was gonna say it was all a joke and go back to work on the racecar. But Richard said, Contracts can be negotiated out of. He said, here’s how we are gonna resolve this – we are headed to Indy and traditionally we go to St. Elmo’s in Indy for our traditional dinner there. Here’s what we’re gonna do – I’m gonna buy everybody dinner and you are gonna buy some really good wine and we are gonna call this deal even. That’s how it happened

Two reasons I took the deal – one was that I knew there was going to be a small box of people that were gonna do this and if I turned it down the opportunity it may never come again. The other reason was – it was only a two year deal, enough time to see if they didn’t like me or I didn’t like them. But fourteen years later, I’ve never looked over my shoulder.

My goal is, as long as Fox is doing NASCAR and I have that desire to do it, I will do this.

Would you go back to being a Crew Chief?

It would be tough to go back and be a Crew Chief – I do think I could go back on the box and call the race because I know more now than then. I don’t think I could be a good Crew Chief but I think I could be a good strategist. I barely was a high school graduate and don’t have what it would take on that level today.


What’s been the biggest high in your career?

That’s hard to say. I walk into my office every day and those two Daytona 500 trophies are there. First, it’s the Daytona 500 and I’m fortunate enough to have been a part of winning two of them. But it’s also because of who I won them with two very special drivers that are no longer with us (Davey Allison and Dale Earnhardt Sr.).

Another is two years ago, watching Brandon (son) drive into victory lane when he won the ARCA race at Talladega my home track.

Since 2008 racing attendance declined, however in recent years it is beginning to comeback. What would you say is the reason?

You can’t say it’s one thing. I think it’s a long list. I think the car that’s running now has gotten some folks back – I think the Car of Tomorrow about destroyed us. It about put us out of business.

I think the competition has started to get a little bit better. At this point we’ve had fourteen races and had ten different winners. I think Danica Patrick drug a few eyeballs our way. I think it’s too early to tell if the new format is working out but so far the competition is good. The only thing I questioned in the beginning was re-racking four teams at the end of the chase and sending them to Homestead and saying have at it. But I like it now. Now we don’t have to get a headache over the scenarios – now you just run better than the other three at Homestead and you’re the champion.

Our broadcasting group in ’08, ’09 & 10 was real nervous about the ratings. This year, although the ratings have been a little down there is no nervousness. When you think about it they just spent 3.8 Billion over ten years to broadcast NASCAR. With ratings down some you’d think they’d be jumping out of windows but I think they’ve taken a step back and looked at sports and seen basketball’s down, hockey’s down, and baseball’s down but out of our fifteen weeks with Fox this year we won the sporting events for twelve of the fifteen weekends. So I think they are looking at the glass not as half empty, they are looking at it as half full. Yeah the ratings are down but we are still winning the weekend. Our qualifying shows on Fridays – which I think is another great move by NASCAR, has been out rating baseball games.

Broadcasting races is like standing on the thinnest edge of a razor blade, because you are trying to cater to so many varieties of fans. We cater to a person who is a first time viewer, we cater to the fan that doesn’t want the technical stuff, and we cater to the fan that wants to know everything about everything.

Hopefully we do it right – tell the story – explain why – and have fun.

Voice of NASCAR, Larry McReynolds, Signs Global Book Deal

From Birmingham to Daytona, the Life of One of NASCAR’s Great Icons

Charlotte, North Carolina – Larry McReynolds, lead NASCAR Analyst for Fox, Fox Sports 1, and TNT, as well as columnist for foxsports.com and owner of Larry McReynolds Racing, has announced the signing of a global book deal with VIP Ink Publishing. The autobiography, which will cover McReynolds’ journey from humble beginnings in Birmingham, Alabama, to the pinnacle of NASCAR as crew chief for drivers Dale Earnhardt, Sr. and Davey Allison, will also provide a unique perspective on the importance that his faith has played in his life both professionally and personally, “As a young man I could never have imagined the incredible blessings and opportunities that the sport of NASCAR has provided me,” McReynolds said, “and I hope that this book not only inspires readers to pursue their dreams, but encourages them to lean upon their faith not matter what obstacles they may face.”

Generally regarded as one of the greatest Crew Chiefs in NASCAR history, Larry McReynolds’ career spans the last 39 years, during which time he guided a number of the sport’s top drivers to the pinnacle of racing, accumulating a total of 2 Daytona 500 victories, 23 NASCAR Cup wins, and 122 Top-5 finishes. Today, Larry McReynolds continues to serve as an ambassador of the sport, serving as a television analyst, where he has built a reputation as one of NASCAR’s most trusted and well-liked personalities.

Connect with Larry Mac

You can write to Larry at the following address: