October 25, 2014

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2011 NASCAR Media Tour: Day One

It's Monday. The first of four days on the 2011 NASCAR Media Tour in Charlotte. I believe this is my fourth year covering the event, but not entirely certain about that.

Yes, I've gotten to the point where everthing seems to run together. This I do know: I love covering this event. Here's why. The access. There's no other sport where you visit virtually every team and talk to virtually every big player in the game. You do on this tour. Mega props to the good folks at Charlotte Motor Speedway for hosting us this week.

So I'm here representing Sports Overtime. There's about 200 other media outlets here as well. The usuals... TV, print, radio, and internet coverage. But there's more than just the usual suspects. Canada is represented. And there's also this one German reporter. Wolfgang. I've never talked to him. Most haven't. Yet we know that he's Wolfgang.

There's this perception that I'm in a glamorous job. As I leave my hotel room for the first visits of the day, a somewhat heavy backpack filled with batteries, discs, cables, etc. is strapped to my back. In my left hand I'm carrying my tripod and in my right hand is the camera. That leaves no more hands. So opening doors, pushing elevator buttons and what-not is always a challenge. Not so glamorous. Here on the media tour, some outlets have a reporter and a photographer, I'm working as both. I'd say about 40 percent of the TV stations working the tour this year are "one-man-bands."

Anyhow... the first stop of the day is a visit with the Earnhardt Ganassi Racing team. It's a two car team, featuing Jamie McMurray and Juan Pablo Montoya. I've always liked interviewing Montoya, simply because he's the only driver in the field with a Columbian accent. And the crowd around McMurray is probably bigger than usual. Winning both the Daytona 500 and the Brickyard last season is why. But definitely glad for the attention that McMurray is receiving. He's certainly one of the drivers I like to talk to the most. After the Earnhardt Ganassi visit we depart for Stewart-Haas Racing. When I walk into the garage area, it never ceaes to surprise me just how clean these NASCAR garages are. Spotless. Huge. Huge and spotless. Just so clean.

Ryan Newman received alot of questions about fatherhood. Congrats Rocketman on that. Newman became a father for the first time in November. After the visit at Stewart-Haas, we depart for the hotel to get some work done. The folks on the tour call this "writing time." For us TV guys however, we call it "editing time." (I proceeded to put together a piece on Jamie McMurray that aired Monday at 11.) At 6:15 we hop back on the bus (there are three buses by the way) and depart for Penske Racing. What can you say about Penske? He's won a billion Indianapolis 500's and if you've ever used a moving truck, it just might have been owned by Roger Penske (Penske rentals). But, the thing about Penske, despite the millions of dollars this guy has in the bank, he's an A1 gentlemen. Whenever we've arrived at his headquarters, there he is holding the door open, watching all 200 media members parade in. Penske's drivers are Kurt Busch and Brad Keselowski. Keselowski is sponsored by Miller Lite, so needless to stay, Millers were served for dinner (as mentioned, not a glamorous job, but I didn't say there weren't perks), but don't worry, I believe most of my video remained in focus.

The way these visits usually work is like this: The team owner and drivers are introduced, and sometimes crew chiefs and other team guys. They answer a few questions from the crowd, sometimes talk about new sponsorships or other business, then break into "one-on-one" sessions. These are the interviews the TV folks like to get. They just look better, more personal. At 9 pm or so, it's time to get back on the bus and head back to the hotel, to get back to work. Tuesday's work starts at 7:30 am with Michael Waltrip Racing. That's an early start. Very early. TV guys and early really don't mesh well, but you gotta do what you gotta do. So I need to get more work done, so I then can get to sleep. See you Tuesday.

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