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Up At Dawn & the NASCAR Family Loads Out At Phoenix

Up At Dawn & the NASCAR Family Loads Out At Phoenix

Going into my third NASCAR race weekend, it’s so very clear those in the NASCAR family who make their living traveling on the road, do so because they truly love the sport and the fans. But make no mistake about on the NASCAR circuit is a grind. As I pull into the track parking lot at dawn each weekend, I see hundreds of people including the pit crews, media, NASCAR and track support staff marching into the track with stuffed backpacks, a big cup of coffee in hand and credentials hanging around their necks. After little sleep and dry hotel room air, it’s funny to see how many of us put in eye drops before the backpack is slung over our shoulders. I’m just sayin’ - Visine should be sponsoring a car!

Yesterday as I boarded my flight for a couple of days back in Denver before the Las Vegas races, Jackson Browne’s classic rock song about being on the road sums up for me what it’s like out here doing what we love to do…

    The Load Out
  • Now we got country and western on the bus
  • R and B, we got disco in eight tracks and cassettes in stereo
  • We've got rural scenes and magazines
  • We've got truckers on the CB
  • We've got Richard Pryor on the video
  • We got time to think of the ones we love
  • While the miles roll away

Today’s fantastic technology products sure make the nine months of following NASCAR Sprint Cup races on the road go a bit easier. When I head out on a road trip, my North Face backpack is jammed with a loaded MacBook Pro, a power strip, an iPod, different styles of headphones, two mobile phone battery chargers (I go through 3 batteries each race day) and a FanVision controller (so I’m on the inside of the action at the tracks). Plus, my mobile phone has numerous apps providing me access to radio stations, TV stations, magazines and newspapers that I follow across the country. My mobile also serves as a hot spot, so that I can get my laptop online pretty much anywhere. Yes, all of these tools help me do my job better and faster when I’m away from the home office, however, they also provide an efficient way to stay connected with family and friends that I miss -- as the miles and number of days roll away.

    Speaking of miles and numbers, here’s some fun NASCAR statistics to chew on:
  • From the first race in Daytona, to the last one at Miami Homestead, NASCAR will have traveled over 40,000 miles.
  • Total seat capacity for the 36 Sprint Cup Series races is more than four million people.
  • That’s over four million thirsty and hungry people hitting the speedways with hard-earned money to spend on the sport they love.
  • The Indianapolis Motor Speedway can serve more than 257,000 fans on a hot and humid Midwest July weekend.
  • Over 75M people in the USA state they are NASCAR fans and 2.6M of those like this on Facebook. BTW, the NASCAR FB page has gained over 250K more likes in the past 2 months.
  • According to the spotter of a very famous driver, over 70% of the drivers are left-handed.

I’m not an economist, but it looks like a little race that once ran on dirt tracks, sure has a BIG impact on a number of local economies across the country!

I think it’s a blessing to be part of the NASCAR family that tallies millions of people who love to go racing 36 weekends each year. Just two race weekends into the season, I’ve had the opportunity to meet thousands of fans, befriend a number of team spotters and go live on MRN Radio during a nationwide race. But probably the coolest thing to happen thus far, was talking to Sprint Cup driver Casey Mears on his mobile, just minutes before he was introduced to the fans at the Subway Fresh Fit 500.
At the end of the race on Sunday, I had to stop by the Media Center inside the infield to chat with a reporter for a few minutes. At that time the “load out” was in progress, with the Pit Boxes being the last to go onto the trailers. And as the big rigs made their way to the entrance of the tunnel at PIR, they blasted their horns with a goodbye to Phoenix, and a shout-out to Las Vegas that NASCAR is coming your way.
Yep, it’s going to be a racing marathon until Homestead, but it’s going to be a fun and interesting ride all along the way. Viva Las Vegas!
Until next time, remember…winners don’t wait for chances…they take them!