Lafferty filming motorsports show
By: Steve Winzenread
Published: November 15, 2011
CONCORD, N.C. -- When opportunity knocks, flexibility can be an asset.
It can even be the difference between night and day.
For example, Chris Lafferty, who is contracted to do a daytime motorsports TV show for Fox Sports Network starting in January, originally aimed for a late-night slot.
“I’ve been working for years and years to try to develop a television program,” Lafferty, 34, said last week after filming at his Concord shop.
“What I knew in racing, I lacked in budget. I knew that I excelled when it comes to the cameras rolling. I pushed very hard for a TV avenue. That was kind of my way to make it into the motorsports industry.
“I developed a couple of shows. One of the shows I developed was a late-night show.
Kind of puts you in mind of like a Jay Leno show with a racing theme.
“I had shot four episodes of that and I was shopping it around and we got a call from Fox.
They said, ‘We love your show, we want to pick it up.’ I’m like, great, it’s a late-night show. I’m going to be the next Jay Leno. This is exciting. And I’m on this phone call with the bigwigs and he asks me a question. ‘Do you think you could make your late-night show more daytime friendly?’
“In my mind, I’m thinking, OK, a little less Jay Leno, a little more Ellen DeGeneres.
Fine, no problem. We can do that.
“During the phone conversation, there were five more questions. ‘Can you change this? Can you change this?’ I’m saying yeah, but in my head I’m thinking, ‘I don’t want to change my show.’
After Lafferty was told to come up with four good ideas and call back, “I hung up the phone and I went, what just happened? I thought they loved my show and now they want something completely different. I was real confused.
“I ended up calling them back and I said, ‘hey, I don’t want to sound like a jerk, but why don’t you just tell me exactly what you want, so that I know.’ He starts laughing and he says, ‘Well, here’s what we want. We want you to host a show. We like you.’ He made me feel so good.
“He said, ‘However, the time slot we have available, a late-night show doesn’t quite fit. Give me an educational, magazine TV show that has your twist and your spin on it.’
“I went OK, I can do that. Four days later, we developed another show from scratch. Start to finish. Four days later we had a pilot shot, edited, sent off to Fox for approval. They came back and said yes. So here we are signed on with national TV.”
The 30-minute “Chris Lafferty’s Motorsports TV” is scheduled to air twice a week for 26 weeks.
The show is to include segments with Lafferty’s 12-year-old daughter, Hannah.
“It’s a lighter side segment,” Lafferty said. “She covers things a little more basic, like all the flags in racing.”
Lafferty grew up in California.
“I’ve always worked on cars,” he said. “I knew I was going to be a mechanic of sorts. Being from California, I thought I was going to be in drag racing. I fell in love with NASCAR. I knew that at some point I was going to have to move to North Carolina to chase the dream.
“I moved out here to be a NASCAR engine builder. I came out with no job, with no home. I had literally a pocket of cash to survive on, a pistol in my right pocket. I slept in my moving truck at exit 36 in Mooresville in the parking lot.
“I started in an engine shop. I beat the doors down until someone would hire me. But I was never really worried because my background was fixing cars. I was a certified auto mechanic. I knew I could get a job doing that if I needed to. I got a little lucky. I found someone who was hiring. I worked my way up.”
After switching to another company, he became a lead engine builder.
The next step was for Lafferty to form his own performance engine company. And in 2004, Lafferty Motorsports started fielding a truck in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, with Lafferty eventually taking over as driver.
“Our ship’s come in,” he said. “It’s like a sigh of relief. But now it’s a whole new set of stresses that come along with that.”