Morgan Shepherd, 76, grateful for supportive fans


By Isabel Gonzalez

October 12, 2017

Morgan Shepherd celebrates his 76th birthday, today, October 12.

He’s currently the oldest active XFINITY driver and the oldest driver to make a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start. The owner of the Shepherd Racing Ventures ran his first race in 1967 at the Hickory Motor Speedway. Fast-forward to 2017, and he has now been at it for half a century.

“I’ve just about been here longer than NASCAR,” Shepherd joked when he talked to The Racing Experts back in March.

On March 11th, Shepherd and his crew carried out their 50th anniversary celebration at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the Boyd Gaming 300. This became Shepherd’s seventh series start at the 1.5-mile track.

The North Carolina native is part of a team that does not have sponsors, but instead, mostly owes its existence to supportive fans.

“God bless all the people who helped put me here,” Shepherd said. “The race fans out there donate money to keep us here and I appreciate that so much.”

Shepherd’s last win at the XFINITY Series was in 1988, while his last Monster Energy Cup Series victory was in 1993. However, winning is not really what fuels his desire to stay behind-the-wheel, at least not anymore.

According to U.S. Census Bureau data, the average retirement age in United States is around 63. More than 10 years over that average, the NASCAR driver said he continues to compete to use his platform as a “tool” to help others and spread a message he believes in.

The Morgan Shepherd Charitable Fund, established in 1986, raises funds for the PARC Workshop, an organization that aims to provide handicapped adults with job and daily living skills.

“If you notice, the hood of the car has a big cross on it,” Shepherd said. “That’s what we are about, trying to encourage people to better their lives.”

The driver of the No. 89 Chevrolet Camaro says he still likes to get his hands dirty working on his own car. He also drives with his team across the country instead of taking a plane to his destination.

Shepherd doesn’t let age define who he is or limit what he does. As it happens, one of his favorite non-racing activities is roller skating.

“I still skate and dance on my skates,” he said with a proud smile. “As a matter of fact, a lot of places I go, like when I went to Australia in ‘88, the first thing they asked me is if I had my roller skates.”

Shepherd has achieved a lot in his lifetime, but the advice he gives to all those who are pursuing a goal is quite simple: focus on education and learn as much as you can.

“Anything in life, you have to do something about it to make it happen,” he said. “Try to work on improving yourself each day.”


SOURCES
Racing-Reference.info

U.S. Census Bureau


IMAGES
Dante Ricci/The Racing Experts