The Bryant McMurray motorsports photographs collection contains images of motorsports races, personalities, and events shot between 1969 and 2016. Capturing the speed and danger of NASCAR, IMSA, Grand Prix, and other races, boisterous victory lane celebrations, pit crews in the heat of action, and the rambunctious spirit of motorsports fans in the grandstands, the collection offers a kaleidoscopic portrait of motorsports culture in its unvarnished heyday that spotlights a range of diverse participants. Making their appearance in innumerable candid shots and portraits in the collection are stock car racing luminaries like Bobby Allison and Cale Yarborough and Dale Earnhardt, track owners and mechanics, sportscasters and beauty queens, politicians and movie stars, and ordinary racing fans whose fierce devotion and loyalty to racing continue to fuel the sport. Whether taken from a distance or at close range, shot in color or in black and white, the digitized negatives, slides, and digital photographs that make up the collection offer an unparalleled view of a sport that began humbly in stock car races between rival bootleg moonshine runners but grew into a multibillion-dollar industry of which the Charlotte region remains the heart. They also chart the professional growth of a photographer uncannily adept at capturing telling moments both large and small on film—not only spin-outs and pile-ups and green-white-checker finishes, but also the seemingly insignificant gesture or facial expression that can reveal the personality of a legendary driver or the turning point of a major race.
A native of Rock Hill, South Carolina, and a graduate of Appalachian State University, Bryant McMurray is a 50-year veteran of photojournalism, marketing, and public relations in motorsports. He served as director of photography for Charlotte Motor Speedway, North Carolina Speedway, and Bristol Motor Speedway and as the North American general manager of the Thunderdome Speedway in Melbourne, Australia. A recipient of numerous industry awards including “Craftsman Photographer of the Year,” he was the first race promoter to take a race to a country outside North America. McMurray is currently an adjunct professor at UNC Charlotte, where he teaches NASCAR history. In 2014 J. Murrey Atkins Library Special Collections at UNC Charlotte acquired his motorsports photography collection.