Family: Wife, LouAnne Crowder; daughters, Courtney and Morgan Crowder; and parents, Nelson and Linda Crowder.
Occupation and why you selected it: Entrepreneur and business owner. One of the very first books I read was the autobiography of P.T. Barnum of the great Barnum and Bailey Circus. The context of the book inspired me to pursue the art of buying and selling. This book was a gift to me at the age of 10 from the late Homer Austin.
What clubs, groups and church do you belong? The clubs or groups I belong to are the Masons, Shriners, Kazim Hillbillies, Elks Lodge, Moose Lodge and the Twin County Chamber of Commerce. My church is the Hillsville Pentecostal Holiness Church.
Education: I’m a 1983 graduate of Carroll County High School. I also have a U.S. Navy Main Propulsion Degree and am a Ford Motor Company general manager.
What is something most people don’t know about you? I am an avid chess player. I have a large collection of local historic items and I’m very knowledgeable about a wide variety of antiques and collectibles.
Favorite food: Ahi tuna, steak and Mexican.
Favorite music and/or performer(s)? I have liked Van Halen since I was 12 years old, also Lynyrd Skynyrd and Kiss, but as I’ve gotten older I’m beginning to really enjoy the Hillsville Pentecostal Holiness Choir. One of my favorite actors is Anthony John of The Sopranos and Eddie Murphy is my favorite comedian.
Share your favorite memory in your life to date: It’s hard to just pick one, so I’ll say a few favorites. One, the birth of my two daughters; two, my Carroll County High School football team memories; and three, finishing first and second with my dad at New River Valley Speedway.
Name something you find very irritating and why: I’d say bad sports officiating, because the Hokies’ offense is already having enough trouble with their help, and slow waitresses, self-explanatory.
What is the best advice you were ever given and who gave it? It is hard to pick just one. I have received and used a lot of good advice in my lifetime. One, my father always told me “you can be anything you want to be, if you want it bad enough.” He repeatedly told me this and showed me examples whenever he could; two, my former boss, Louis F. Harrelson, owner of several automobile franchises would say, “Crowder, if you want it bad enough, you have to be willing to make sacrifices to get it; and three, friend and mentor John Bickford Sr., Jeff Gordon’s step-dad and president of JG Motorsports, would say, “If you get too many irons in the fire, you become potent at nothing.”
What else would you like the people of Carroll County to know about you? The people who had a major impact on my life are the following teachers. Elizabeth Huff, my fifth-grade teacher, was the most positive and patient teacher I know. Patricia Golding was in touch with her students, and was the kindest and most understanding teacher. I had her in the seventh through ninth grades. I had Phil Coulson in the 12th grade and he taught me the basics and prepared me for the real world. My most influential teacher was Leroy McGrady, who had had in the 11th and 12th grades. When you first came into Mr. McGrady’s class in the 11th grade, tough love was an understatement. As you moved forward to the 12th grade, the support, the encouragement and the success came easy. Leroy was truly a mentor for so many young men and women in Carroll County.
What is the most satisfying thing about being mayor? So far the most satisfying thing about being mayor is helping the elderly and less fortunate, and I look forward to the challenge and resolution concerning the water and sewer shortfall that this council has inherited. I feel certain that I as mayor, and this council, the new town manager and police chief, will have great success and growth for our town in the coming years ahead.
What is the most difficult thing about being mayor? The hardest part for me is not being able to move as fast on projects as I would like to. What takes one day in my private business can take up to a month in town business. Also, I have to sacrifice not living with my family full time. With my NASCAR business, for the last 18 years, I was on the road 40 weeks out of the year. So being with them on weekends is still way better than years past.
What would you do to get Virginia Tech football back on track? First, you must identify the problem. In my opinion, the offensive line, play calling and offensive recruiting are the problems. Second, after identifying the problem, I would completely change the offensive coaching staff, except Shane Beamer. Third, to fix the problem, I would hire a very high profile offensive coordinator who has a track record of scoring a lot of points and sending players to the NFL.
What has been your favorite experience during your close association with NASCAR? First of all, I would like to thank NASCAR for providing me with the opportunity to establish my business and form relationships with the quality people I have met over the years. As far as my favorite memory, I have two. The first is when my father and I hauled our cars to Daytona, and raced for two whole weeks against some of the greatest drivers in the country. We both had top-five finishes; it was an unbelievable 10 days. The second was racing on the Talladega, AL, short dirt track in Kenny Wallace’s daughters’ Thunder and Lightning car. I won a Saturday night feature against some of the top drivers in the sport. Note: We had to cut the roof off his daughters’ car to get my size seat inside.