Not many would think that cars speeding at 200 MPH down a circular track surrounded by thousands of screaming fans would have anything in common with the calm of the outdoors, where it’s just man and nature. Well, even the high-speed drivers like to get away from the wild of the course and take a weekend in the woods with friends and a rifle.
In this interview, Realtree founder Bill Jordan explains how he and NASCAR drivers met and formed a strong relationship that continues to this day. He describes his most memorable hunting moment with NASCAR racer Kevin Harvick and mentions a few other hunter-drivers. For the past 6 years, the TV series Realtree’s NASCAR Outdoors has been on ESPN and has only just recently moved to the Outdoor Channel. Watch the following interview with Bill Jordan to find out more on this unique relationship.
This article is part of a series of interviews and videos surrounding Realtree and Bone Collector. Interviews are available with: Nick Mundt, Travis (T-Bone) Turner, David Blanton, Tyler Jordan, Bill Jordan’s CEO to CEO and NASCAR.
Additional videos include: Friends, Family and the Outdoors, Behind-the-Scenes and BLOOPERS.
00:00:06 How did the relationship between NASCAR and Realtree start?
Bill Jordan: You know originally 6 years ago I went to ESPN I said look, “Outdoors, NASCAR makes sense and ESPN, you know on the outdoors space.” I said, “Let’s end up seeing about doing a NASCAR show featuring a lot of the NASCAR drivers and you know a lot of those guys obviously Chevrolet drivers as well. So we aired for 5 years on ESPN with this NASCAR show and we just recently went over to the Outdoor Channel. You know it’s called Realtree’s NASCAR outdoors. So those guys have an opportunity to go hunting and we have an opportunity to showcase those guys as outdoorsmen. So it’s just worked extremely well. And so far it seems like the fans of outdoors and NASCAR seem to be liking seeing their guys away from the track and seeing what they do away from the track.
I don’t know if a lot of people realize, but our connection with NASCAR goes back a lot of years and actually started off on a hunt back in the 80s, 1980s and that was with Dale Earnhart Senior, Richard Childress and the late Davey Allison. And the neat thing about our relationship when we all first met: these guys were outdoorsmen and they liked what I did, they liked the hunting aspect. They were just asking me all these type of questions, “where do you hunt” and this type of stuff. And, you know, from there our friendship just started. Ever since that first year that we met in the late 80s all the way up to Dale’s passing in 2001, Dale and I never missed a year of hunting together.
00:01:35 Which NASCAR drivers are the best hunters?
Bill Jordan: You know out of all the NASCAR guys, and he takes his hunting very seriously, is Martin Truex Junior and Martin’s been a friend from day one. He’s an avid outdoorsman, both hunting and fishing and I’ll have to say this about Ryan, Ryan can shoot a bow probably as well as anybody. He loves shooting it. Now I’ve got all these other guys – Bobby Labonte, and Ryan Newman shooting bows and Kevin Harvick, even Jeff Gordon shooting bows as well. But just seeing those guys, how competitive they are in hunting camps, shooting their bows against each other, you know, it’s pretty interesting to see.
00:02:16 What is your most memorable moment with a NASCAR driver?
Bill Jordan: A story with Kevin Harvick I took him on his first elk hunt a couple years ago. And Kevin’s a lot of fun to be off with. Get him away from the race track, Kevin’s just an entirely different person. It took him a day or two to get acclimated to what hunting was all about, especially the elk hunting. If you ever been doing the rut of the year when these 800/900 lbs. animals are buggling, they’re making all this noise, tearing up the brush and I looked at Kevin, we had this bull came in, I mean, close to us and we were rifle hunting. I said “Kevin, get down, get down.” I looked at him, I saw his shoulders, he’s just breathing really heavy. And I said, you know, that’s pretty cool, here’s a guy who drives 200 miles an hour, and won the Daytona 500 and Brickyard and all-star racing and everything in between. Watching him at that moment, just looking at him, observing him from behind, he was getting nervous. So make a long story short, he gets this elk. So, we track this elk, we go to him about 250/300 yards away and we walk together and the television cameras are rolling and when we get there all the excitement you could see all this adrenaline rush that he had, and he was actually, you know to the hyper side, which is uncharacteristic of Kevin Harvick. And we sat there and we overlooked this magnificent animal, just a huge, huge elk, big rack and as I’m sitting there talking to him, he just even forgets the camera’s on him, I said, “Kevin, what did you really think about this, this morning?” He said “I gotta be honest, he said, this is the most exhilarating thing I’ve ever done in my life, EVER.” I said, “Even winning the Daytona 500?” He said, “Absolutely.”
00:03:57 What is the future of NASCAR and Realtree?
Bill Jordan: Well you know I think the neat thing and people ask me about, you know, Chevrolet connection as far as Realtree and Chevy and I’m the first to tell people this thing went way back before I ever got with Chevrolet, or our company got with Chevrolet. Our families driven Chevrolet for years both all my trucks, I’ve got a 2001 Tahoe still here right now on the farm that we call our farm Tahoe and so I’ve been a fan of Chevrolet and what’s really been neat through a lot of the NASCAR connection and us being in the outdoor business and a lot of my friends with Richard Childress Racing and obviously Richard Childress has Chevrolet sponsorships for all of his cars. It was just a really easy connection for us. We do one or two races a year as a primary sponsor with Kevin Harvick and this year we’re really excited, we did get an opportunity and a couple of other friends that we hunt with to do the Bristol night race in August. That’s Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman and also with Jamie McMurray so we’ll be a primary sponsor for all three of those cars and that’s done a lot out of friendship. It’s done a lot of our friendship with Bass Pro Shops being one of our major retailers. At the Bristol coming up we’ll have four different Chevrolet’s and Realtree so we’re excited about that.