NASCAR and Nashville have been inexorably linked for years, stretching back to the days when auto racing’s top tier traveled to the Fairgrounds Speedway to race twice a year from 1958 to 1984. Country music and stock cars also go together like a hand in a racing glove, and the cross section between their two fan bases is significant.
Perhaps nowhere are those connections more evident than in the person of Mike Curb, the founder and operator of Curb/Word Entertainment, a major independent record label based in Nashville. Over the course of his illustrious career, Curb has also served as Lieutenant Governor of California, a successful musician and songwriter and the owner and sponsor of several successful NASCAR racing teams, working with legendary drivers like Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt and Derrell Waltrip.
For more than 40 years, Curb Racing has been involved with the sport at many levels, so it was appropriate that Mike Curb would welcome members of the racing community to his company’s headquarters on Tuesday, December 3 as part of the kick-off to NASCAR’s Champion’s Week festivities. Luminaries in attendance at the reception included former drivers Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Michael Waltrip as well as current competitors Ryan Blaney and Grant Enfinger. Some of the historic race cars associated with Curb Racing’s past were parked along Music Row in front of the Curb building as a nod to Curb’s career in the sport, and fans snapped photos that popped up all over Instagram. The famous vehicles were Dale Earnhardt’s Winston Cup Championship car, Richard Petty’s Curb/STP and top 10 Winston Cup Championship car that captured his 200th victory at Daytona Motor Speedway and this year’s NASCAR Regular Season Championship Truck from Thorsport/Curb.
Guests gathered for food and drinks before Curb executive Jim Ed Norman took the stage to introduce his boss. Mike Curb leapt up on stage to regale the audience with stories from his years in the sport, particularly of the legendary “Alabama Gang” of drivers including brothers Bobby and Donnie Allison. Curb then introduced a member of his new Alabama Gang, up-and-coming country music performer Tim Dugger. Curb recounted how he met Dugger through another member of racing’s royalty, Richard Childress. “Richard told me, ‘I’m going to introduce you to a star!’” recalled Curb, who shared his own affection for the young man from Roanoke, Alabama. “There’s not a nicer guy in the business, and I’ve never seen anyone work harder!”
Dugger grew up obsessed with racing, and frequently played in clubs near racetracks around the region. He quickly became a favorite of many drivers and their crews which made him a natural to associate himself with a record label with that has a history in the sport. Before launching into a rollicking set of three songs from his upcoming EP, Dugger told the crowd, “There are two things I love more than anything else, country music and racing!” Backed by a tight band of pickers, Dugger ran through a trio of potential hits: a country rocker titled “Signs of a Good Time” that is the title track of the EP, a self-aware admission of his obsessions called “You’re Gonna Love Me” and an ode to his favorite shape, “Circles,” as in a steering wheel or a tire or a track. Keep an ear out for Dugger in the future and expect Mike Curb to remain an important factor in the world of auto racing for many more years.