DARLINGTON, S.C. – Sitting in a director’s chair at Greg Biffle’s hauler in the Darlington Raceway garage, Jimmy Spencer looked like a judge ready to hold court.
However, unlike Spencer, a judge wouldn’t be chewing on a big cigar.
Spencer, a former NASCAR driver and current television personality who goes by the nickname “Mr. Excitement,” has never backed down from speaking his mind. And at Darlington, he wasn’t about to change.
His subject wasn’t racing, religion, politics or anything of the sort. It was much more personal.
“I am going retire. That’s it. I am going to put my house up for sale and move back to Pennsylvania where I was raised,” said Spencer, who won twice in 478 Sprint Cup starts with such team owners as Bobby Allison, Junior Johnson and Travis Carter.
Spencer also competed on several other NASCAR circuits. His record includes 12 Nationwide Series wins and 15 victories on the Modified Tour.
“I love Pennsylvania,” Spencer added. “My dad has dementia but he’s still alive and so is my mother-in-law. I want to go home and spend time with them.
“My house is right up there off exit 28 (from Interstate 77 at Lake Norman). Wanna buy it?”
Spencer, from Berwick, Pa., isn’t leaving North Carolina simply to re-unite with relatives. Hardly. His plans are more far-reaching than that.
“I love gardening,” Spencer said. “So I am going to build a small farm near home, off of Mayes Road up there. I’ll get to do some gardening, but that isn’t all I am going to do.
“I am going to start traveling. I want to go to Germany and I’m going to Switzerland. And I’m going to take the train up in Canada.
“Biffle told me to go to Seattle, then drive up and get on the train in Canada. Then I’m going to take that train clear across Canada. I don’t care how long it takes.”
Spencer said he’s motivated to retire and travel for a couple of reasons.
“I love architecture,” he said, “and there are castles over there in Europe that are 2,000 years old – I mean, 2,000 years old. Can you imagine that?”
The truth of the mater is Spencer is motivated by a much more personal reason.
“When you get up in age and you realize you can’t do what you want to do because of your health or whatever, well, I don’t want to deal with that,” he said.
“I’m 55 years old and I know people who retired when they were 65 years old and because of their health, or something else, they can’t do anything. That’s not going to be me, understand?”
Spencer paused for a moment.
“What’s has changed my whole attitude,” he said, “is when my sister Chrissy died two years ago.
“She had ovarian cancer, but as far as I’m concerned there was no reason for her to die.
“So my point in all this is that life is too short. I’m going to start doing stuff.
“That’s what I want and that’s what I’m going to do.”
Nothing else need be said – except, perhaps, “Bon voyage.”