Bryant McMurray Oral History Interviews

Bryant McMurray oral history interview 1, 2016 August 10
Bryant McMurray was a 69-year-old man at the time of the interview, which took place in his office in Fretwell Hall on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He was born in Rock Hill, South Carolina, in 1947. He was educated at the University of South Carolina and Appalachian State University, and was employed as a photojournalist, sports photographer, entrepreneur, and college teacher., Bryant McMurray describes his career as a photojournalist and sports photographer and his lifelong involvement with the motorsports industry. He recalls his upbringing in Rock Hill, South Carolina, and early interest in photography and stock car racing; his first assignments photographing news stories for South Carolina newspapers; and his fledgling efforts to establish a name for himself as a photographer of NASCAR and other racing events. Delineating the pioneering techniques he developed to market his photographs to news outlets, he tells of his rise from a struggling freelancer to a successful professional who served as the track photographer for the Charlotte Motor Speedway and photographed events as diverse as the 1974 Eastern Airlines crash in Charlotte and the visits to Charlotte of Presidents Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan. McMurray also describes his overseas stint as general manager of the Thunderdome Speedway in Melbourne, Australia, and the new directions his career has recently taken into television production and teaching courses on NASCAR history at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
Bryant McMurray oral history interview 2, 2016 December 14
In this second part of a series of interviews, Bryant McMurray discusses the photographic equipment, camera models, and film types he employed throughout his career as a successful sports photojournalist as well as the techniques he used to capture both portrait and action shots. He describes the mental acuity and discipline needed to operate as a photographer in situations of considerable risk, the methods he used to establish rapport with photographic subjects, and the heightened state of awareness and focus—“the zone”—that professional photographers strive to achieve when on assignment. He also expands on the entrepreneurial methods he has developed to market and sell his work and describes the strategies he has used to organize his large photographic archive.
Bryant McMurray oral history interview 3, 2017 January 18
Bryant McMurray was a 69-year-old man at the time of the interview, which took place in his office in Fretwell Hall on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He was born in Rock Hill, South Carolina, in 1947. He was educated at the University of South Carolina and Appalachian State University, and was employed as a photojournalist, sports photographer, entrepreneur, and college teacher., In this third installment of a series of interviews, Bryant McMurray discusses the evolution of stock car racing from a hardscrabble, do-it-yourself sport to a multimillion dollar industry with highly paid celebrity drivers and lucrative corporate sponsorships. He describes his professional and personal relationships with drivers like Richard Petty and Bobby Allison, the tragic fates of Tim Richmond and other hard-living motorsports luminaries who met untimely ends both on and off the track, and the lively culture of parties and carousing that surrounded the sport. McMurray also touches on the role of women in stock car racing as drivers and as beauty queens, the experience of African-American drivers in NASCAR, and his own long and fruitful relationships with fellow sports photojournalists like Pal Parker.
Bryant McMurray oral history interview 4, 2017 April 26
Bryant McMurray was a 69-year-old man at the time of the interview, which took place in his office in Fretwell Hall on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He was born in Rock Hill, South Carolina, in 1947. He was educated at the University of South Carolina and Appalachian State University, and was employed as a photojournalist, sports photographer, entrepreneur, and college teacher., In this fourth installment of a series of interviews, Bryant McMurray describes his work in public relations and marketing campaigns for companies heavily involved with the motorsports industry such as STP Corporation, Hardee’s, and R.J. Reynolds. He tells of the highs and lows of the marketing campaign cycle and the strategies he used to maintain his financial and psychological equilibrium as profits peaked and then waned. McMurray also provides more details about his experience serving as North American general manager for the Thunderdome Speedway in Melbourne, Australia, and about his forays into television production and direction work. The interview concludes with a discussion of the courses on NASCAR and the history of the Catawba River he has developed at UNC Charlotte and his recent donation of his vast archive of motorsports photographs to Special Collections and University Archives at UNC Charlotte's J. Murrey Atkins Library.