KANNAPOLIS, NC – Mike Curb is an amazing man. He’s a musician, recording artist, record label owner, owner and sponsor of several race cars, politician, and philanthropist. Recently, I toured the Curb Museum for Music and Motorsports in Kannapolis, North Carolina.
The museum is appropriately located on Dale Earnhardt Boulevard; Curb was friends with Earnhardt and owned a car driven by Earnhardt. Curb also has owned NASCAR, Indy cars and Sprint cars driven by Richard Petty, Dale Jarrett, Ron Bouchard, and Dan Wheldon, just to name a few.
Curb is also co-owner of a car with Tony Stewart that races in the World of Outlaws event in Tulsa each year.
He began his career as a singer, songwriter, and piano player, appearing on dozens of albums. While in college, at San Fernando Valley State, Curb wrote a little song entitled You Meet the Nicest People on a Honda (Go Little Honda) which the car company used in their ads.
Over the years, Curb has composed or supervised over 50 film scores and has written over 400 songs.
He wrote for and produced Roy Orbison, the Osmond Family, Lou Rawls, Sammy Davis, Jr., and others. He also signed artists such as War, Richie Havens, Gloria Gaynor, Johnny Bristol, Exile, The Four Seasons and many more. Curb received BMI awards for composing Burning Bridges for Clint Eastwood’s Kelly’s Heroes, and for composing All for the Love of Sunshine, which was Hank Williams, Jr.’s first No. 1 hit.
As a politician, Curb was Lieutenant Governor of California (1979-1983) under Democrat Governor Jerry Brown. However, in 1980 Curb served as the National Co-Chairman of Republican Ronald Reagan’s successful presidential campaign, and was later appointed by Reagan to be chairman of the national finance committee in Washington, D.C.
In auto racing, Curb is a co-owner of the Curb Agajanian Performance Group, a team that has won 10 national championships, but his auto racing career goes back to the early 1980s.
I had the opportunity to interview Gene Overcash the manager of the Curb Motorsports Museum.
“I’ve been with Mike for about 15 years. We’re in a new building, and we’ve been here for about eight years,” Overcash said. “It’s a 20,000-square foot building, with 30-something race cars in here. All kinds of pictures of racing that Mike’s done and of cars he’s owned or sponsored.”
One of the highlights for me was getting to see one of Richard Petty’s cars. I was a big Petty fan, and met him at his home in Randleman, NC, back in 1978.
“Mike owned the Richard Petty team when Petty won his 199th and 200th wins,” Overcash said. “He donated the 200th win car to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, but the 199th win car is here. Also on display, is the car driven by Dan Wheldon when he won the 2011 Indianapolis 500.”
Wheldon died tragically five months later from injuries sustained in a crash during the IZOD IndyCar World Championship at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (Oct. 16, 2011).
“As a part of Curb Records, you’ll see LeAnn Rimes first car she bought when she won Star Search,” Overcash said. “It’s a black, 1996 Dodge Viper, it has a sunroof that comes off and no side windows. There aren’t any door handles on the outside, either.”
Overcash has had an interesting career working for Curb. He began as a member of the race team in 2000, then toured the country with “show cars.”
“I would take out the Morton’s Salt car and the Quality Farm and Country car,” Overcash said. “We would load a show car up, take it to the stores for people to come and look at and take pictures. I would stay out for three or four days, pull the show car around to stores and had a great time. That was one of the best times I ever had. If you wanted to see the country that was the way to do it; pull a show car around and you’ll see the country.”
As a philanthropist, Curb has donated millions of dollars to several universities and many buildings on college campuses bear his name. There is even the Mike Curb Music Conservatory at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville.
The Curb Museum for Music and Motorsports is open from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. There is no cost to get in, however, there is a donation box by the door. They will even open on the weekends for private tours for large groups who make appointments in advance. For more information, visit www.curb.com.