Jeremy Mayfield told Sirius NASCAR Radio’s Sirius Speedway with Dave Moody that he apologized to his former stepmother, Lisa Mayfield, because “it was the right thing to do.”
The suspended NASCAR driver issued a public apology to Lisa Mayfield Tuesday, settling a slander suit she filed against him in Iredell County, NC, in 2009 after he accused her of complicity in the death of his father two years earlier; a death that has officially been ruled a suicide. "I have previously made statements to the press in which I accused Lisa Mayfield of either murdering my father, Terry Mayfield, or being involved in a conspiracy to murder him," Mayfield wrote. “Those statements were made in the heat of my emotional state at the time. I now retract those statements and apologize to Lisa for having made them."
In an exclusive Sirius Speedway interview, Mayfield said he was anxious to set the record straight and bring an end to the litigation involving his former stepmother. “We’ve been in a legal battle, (but) we got everything straightened out today,” he said. “I felt like it was the right thing to do, to put this behind us and move forward; get all this junk out of our lives, keep moving forward and not look back. We wanted to focus on just the NASCAR stuff… and leave all that other junk behind us. That’s what we’ve done.”
Mayfield sued NASCAR for breach of contract, discrimination and defamation after being suspended by the sanctioning body on May 9, 2009, shortly after a random drug test came back positive for methamphetamine use. While the associated legal fees have been a major drain on his finances, Mayfield said, “We knew that going into it. We knew it was going to be expensive. Dan Marino, my main attorney on the NASCAR stuff, (is) ready to go. We’ve got him paid for all the way through the deal, so I’m sticking it out, no matter what. I made sure I had that covered before I even got into it, because I knew that’s what the case was going to be. It’s definitely not a cheap thing.”
Mayfield said a recent auction to liquidate some of his belongings was not an indicator of financial distress. “I’m still going to auctions,” he said. “I still have stuff, I’m still buying and selling and doing trades. (Financial trouble) is not what that was about. The timing just happened to be right where we was going to have (an auction) anyway.
“We’re still here, we’re still alive and we’re still living in… the same place we were. I’m not going to sit here and tell you it hasn’t been expensive. It has. It cost me a lot of money I’ll never see again. But financially, we’re making the best of what we’ve got right now. And hopefully I can figure out something to do (for work) here shortly and move forward from there, you know?”
Mayfield said he is not discouraged by a recent series of court decisions against him and in favor of NASCAR. “We had a huge success in winning an injunction right off the bat, but obviously things have changed since then (and) we’ve been back and forth. It hasn’t been good for them, either. Brian (France) has been exposed pretty good, and probably will continue to be throughout the deal.
“It’s a situation where we’ve asked the judge twice to reconsider his decision, and he decided both times not to do that. It looks like we lost two rounds, but we really didn’t. We’re still right back where we were when we filed our appeal. We’re going to move up the (judicial) ladder, and we feel like the higher we get up the ladder, the better chance we have.
“All I want is a fair shot in a jury trial where somebody else can look at everything from the outside, looking in,” said Mayfield. “Not a NASCAR official, not a NASCAR lab, or me or anyone else. Let a jury decide what happened and what went on. That’s all we’re asking for.
“If we come up short on that deal, fine. I’ll apologize to everybody for everything’s that’s went on. If I get that opportunity, that’s all I want. I think we deserve that and I think the sport deserves that.”
Mayfield said he is not concerned that retracting his accusations against Lisa Mayfield could lead to questions about the veracity of his allegations against NASCAR. “I didn’t have to send (the retraction) out today,” he said. “It was the right thing to do. I said some wrong things and I’m admitting that. I apologize for that. I wouldn’t do it again, but I was caught in the heat of battle and was very emotional the day that it happened. That’s just part of it. I made a mistake and I’m admitting that now.
“If anything, it should add to my credibility, because I didn’t have to do that. I did it because I felt like it was the right thing to do to get things behind us. I made the decision, and I feel good about it. Now Shana and I can go do our own business, and (Lisa) can do hers.”
Mayfield said he hears little criticism from race fans and is comfortable in public.
"You’d be surprised,” he said. “I’ve gotten a ton of support. I feel like I’ve gotten more (support) now than I ever had as far as the fans. I’ve not had anybody come to me (and say something negative). Everybody… who has had anything to say about it has been positive, and has a good understanding and their own opinion of what’s been going on. It hasn’t been bad like you think it is, because I think people have seen what’s going on."
The Kentucky native said he is doing his best to look to the future, despite the looming spectre of his lawsuit against NASCAR. “We’re starting a little scrap metal business,” he said. “I’ve been messing with that and I love it. I’m talking about going back racing – in another series, obviously – and who knows what’s going to happen there? I’m going to take it day by day and get my stuff back together here. And who knows? Maybe one day we’ll get our chance at a jury trial and then everybody will know everything. Or at least it will all be over with and I’ll know we had a fair shot at it.”
Asked about resurrecting his racing career, Mayfield said, “We haven’t really been talking about it that much. There’s some stuff I could have already done. I could have done some drag racing last year (and) some dirt car racing, World of Outlaws; a lot of things. I have had opportunities to do things, but haven’t done them because I want to get this (lawsuit) behind me. I want to go into it with a clear mind and not have to worry about anything going on, as far as lawsuits and all that junk. I want to just get that behind me and go racing again.
“(Racing) is hard enough as it is without anything else going on. Throw in all this mess with the legal system, and it’s really hard.”
Mayfield said he does not know how long it will take to see his case through. “It could be up to a year,” he said, “but I assure you we’re not going away. If they say there’s no possible way for us to have a jury trial, then we’ll go do something different. But we’re going to stay here if it takes a year, two years… whatever it takes.”
He said he still follows the NASCAR, though not to the degree he did prior to his suspension. Asked about the recent reinstatement of former NASCAR Busch Series champion Randy LaJoie following an indefinite suspension for substance abuse, Mayfield said he has never questioned his decision to take his case to court, rather than rehab.
“I remember Randy saying, `Mayfield should have done this and that,’” said Mayfield. “But if Randy LaJoie didn’t smoke pot, and (someone from NASCAR) told him he did, he wouldn’t have done (rehab), either. That’s what people don’t understand. I’m not going back racing if I didn’t do anything wrong. I’m not going to rehab and going through the reinstatement process, because I didn’t do anything.
“Randy did it. He admitted he went out and smoked pot and got caught. That’s not the case here. I took a prescription drug and did everything (NASCAR’s) policy states, and it still came down to this. So no, I wouldn’t change anything. We’ve lost a lot of money (and) spent a lot on attorneys. But we’re still standing here, and I’m not going away until (the case) is heard. That’s what I’m fighting for. Sometimes you have to stand up for what’s right and not bend over every time (NASCAR) says to do something.
“NASCAR is not always right,” said a defiant Mayfield. “They win every appeal they get in, for whatever reason, but it doesn’t mean they’re right every time.”