I’m at home packing my things for Loudon, New Hampshire where our race is this weekend. I just got back from seeing “Sex in the City” with some friends and now, I’m doing what feels like the extreme – sitting on my couch, watching our NASCAR broadcast from last year at Loudon, taking notes and organizing driver information. Last year is when I rode up to New Hamphshire riding in Dale Earnhardt, Jr’s hauler. It was  such an eye opening experience. We pulled off on the side of the road during our 15 hour drive and I got to experience sleeping like a trucker on the side of the highway. I rode up with Rick Hodges (aka Quicksilver). All hauler drivers in NASCAR have a code name. Hillbilly is the driver for Clint Bowyer and I see him every week at the track – I’ll try to take a picture for you. Anyway, what I remember vividly is Rick opening the curtains at 6am saying “rise and shine, time to hit the road”. I had slept for 3 hours but it sure felt like more. We brushed our teeth by the tires and hit the road. It was so much fun. I made him listen to Brad Paisley (one of my favorite country singers) and he let me talk on the cb.

 

 A lot of you have emailed me asking what is tougher, or what its like working here at NBC 4 and then heading off to cover the races on the weekends, so here’s the truth of it. I know that it’s a privilege to be able to do both and the reason that it works is because our sports staff at Channel 4 is phenomenal. The fact that everyone involved is so hard working and that our team works together so well, is really the only reason that this works because obviously, when I’m gone, they’re down a person. I am excited that I’m able to bring more racing stories back to you, especially ones with local connections and I look forward to doing that again in the next few weeks.  As for what’s tougher, doing my job here or being in the pits, they’re equally challenging and I love both.  The racing coverage is more reactionary and that’s tough in itself because you’ve got to be extremely alert.

 

I want to give you an idea of what happens on a race weekend. I normally fly out Thursday evening or afternoon to the race location. Tomorrow, I’m flying mid-afternoon because I’m shooting a feature tomorrow evening. The jackman for the 83 team of Brian Vickers, Shaun Pete, played in the AHL in Wilkes-Barre. We are going to hit a skating rink in New Hampshire and talk to him about his switch from hockey to the pits of racing.

 

So, normally, Thursday is a pretty laid back evening at the city where the race is. I’ll spend time putting notes together or grabbing a bite and on Friday morning is when the action picks up.   Friday’s are usually one Sprint Cup practice and then qualifying. The way it works for our broadcasts is that two of us pit reporters work the practice show and then two work qualifying (both of them are on SPEED).  This week, I’ll be doing the first practice show on Friday. That means that Friday morning, I’ll head around the garage to chat with some teams and get a general feel for what these guys are looking for in the first practice or what stories may pop up in the garage. The teams, drivers and crews, are very accessible. They are very open but you do need to know the right times to go in the garage and talk and also to pop up in their haulers.  Last week, after first practice, I stopped by Kevin Harvick’s hauler to talk to his crew chief Todd Berrier and I was lucky because when I was invited up to the front where they have their meetings, Kevin happened to be in there chatting so I got to talk to both of them and then randomly, I ended up having their pits during the race so that was a bonus.

 

During practice, I have a pit spotter. Both of us, along with our camera crew, end up in one area of the garage, usually starting with the story of one team – for example, if Kyle Busch is in his garage, maybe I’ll start off like that, about what they’re looking for, what their general team feel is.. and then once practice starts, I’ll scan 3 or 4 drivers while my pit spotter does too and then when someone comes in or is having problems with something, we’ll update it. You do have to be extremely careful because cars whip around corners and if I’m trying to talk to a crewmember inside the garage, I’ll be hopping over jacks and airwrenches and such so you just don’t want to be that girl that gets in someones way trying to change a spring or something.  Last week, I was talking to Clint Bowyers crew around the car before practice and suddenly, I was squirted with a water gun. Turns out, from talking to Clint and his crew chief up in the hauler, that he had been given a shoebox full of waterguns and candy from a fan. They gave me one and now, I have it in case my colleagues get out of controlJ

 

I’m gonna head off and get the rest of my stuff in gear but I’ll update you after our shoot tomorrow and this time when I get on my airplane, I won’t leave my laptop at security, and I’ll make sure NOT to drop my phone in the toiletJ

 

Cheers!!!

Lindsay

 

 

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The Escape To Alcatraz

June 25, 2008

Here are some pics from our trip to Alcatraz to shoot the story for Sonoma’s Race. The story was about the engine tuner for the #2 team, Darren Russell. His great grandfather, Harry Cochrane, was a guard on Alcatraz during the 1946 riot. He was shot in the arm but helped keep 6 convicts from escaping.

view from on “the Rock”

This is Darren – the tower behind him is where his great grandfather lived. His grandmother (Harry’s daughter) lived on the island for 3 years in the building to the left of the tower.

Me acting as a guard:)

TNT Producer Matt got a little out of hand – I had to do something

but…he got me back

Our TNT crew – they gave us incredible access onto the second floor inside Alcatraz.

 

National Guard Photos

June 25, 2008

Here are some photos from Junior’s meeting with the National Guard:

we watched Dale Jr.’s crew arrive by blackhawks to Fort Butner Training Facility

Below: Tony Eury, jr. (Dale’s crew chief choosing his lunch!)

the 88 team just after they had landed (Tony Jr. fell asleep on the flight)

Dale taking his turn firing

Mike Davis, Dale’s PR rep., working the simulator

Dale’s crew getting ready to fly home

What a seat! Dale had his own seat by the window on the way home.

 

Post Sonoma

June 23, 2008

I’m in my cab heading back from Dulles where I just landed from last night’s flight from Sonoma. I thought, by the way the race was playing out at the end, we might still be turning left (and right) today.  I was in Kyle Busch’s pit yesterday and those guys didn’t necessarily have the best car out there, but they played it right with fuel mileage and Kyle led more than 70 laps.  He was pretty talkative near the end of the race, talking about his irritation with Marcos Ambrose and chatting about the food on his planeride home.  Kyle also at one point just after he took the lead, said he was actually surprised. Jeff Gordon said he, also, was surprised that Kyle could be that good on a road course.  For the 18 team, it was huge. Not only did Kyle show that he can win anywhere, on any track, but they unloaded a piece of junk Friday at the track. they had a miserable day at practice, they had to re-qualify because of a mistake during inspection before qualifying and they found a way give him a car good enough to bring from 30th to get the win (his 5th of the season).

It was a long day before we got the race underway. We got to the racetrack at 6:30am Sonoma time. I took a look at the feature that I had done for that day, grabbed some breakfast (oatmean in the tv compound) and headed into the garage to get some last minute stories. What I basically do is check in one last time with the teams that I’ll be covering in my pits during the race. So that meant Kevin Harvick was one of my guys so I went up into their hauler to talk to Todd Berrier, Kevin’s crew chief. When I went up there, Kevin was up there talking to him so I had a chance to chat with him about being back at a track he considers one of his hometown tracks. In fact, he told me about Wed. night when he did a fundraiser at his old high school in Bakersfield, CA where he raised 100,000 bucks to build a new field house for the wrestling team, which he played on. (he wrestled all through high school)… on the way out, I had a chance to chat with Kyle Busch’s crew chief Steve Addington – he told me it was gonna take a lot to get them up front, but obviously, they found a way to make it happen.  that’s when I got ready for the race and we did our rehearsal with our headsets where we run through the show. Afterwards, I had about a half an hour before I had to put on my firesuit so I ran to the media center, checked in with a couple people and then ran to the restroom – this may sound like too much information, but this is where I ran into real problems because I dropped my cellphone in the toilet. (I know – this is worse than leaving your laptop in security during airport checkin) but all I can say is thank goodness it was a clean toiiletbowl. But the issue was my phone was messed up the entire rest of the day. I didn’t in fact get cell service back until 7pm that night California time, but trust me, I learned my lesson and I didn’t need it during the race anyway.  

For pre-race interviews, I was in charge of finding Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and then Marcos Ambrose .. basically, we tell them what time we will be coming to them for interviews and then we glue ourselves to them as they go through prerace ceremonies. For me yesterday, that meant following Dale, Jr as he was on stage getting ready to be introduced. It was taking too long for him to go through the line so I had to climb up on stage, wiggle my way through the door backstage with my big antenna and myself and my photographer Jake had to take up camp between Dale Earnhardt, Jr and Ryan Newman, whom he was talking to. It was tight quarters and Jr. had to keep inching up because he was getting close to getting introduced. As timing would have it, it ended up that the second they took us live on air, was right when he had to start walking up the circular staircase to the stage.. it was way cramped back there but Jake did really well and we pulled it off… I am nearing my destination in the cab so have to run but I’ll check in later….new hampshire is next!!!

cheers!

Lindsay

Friday in Sonoma

June 20, 2008

Hello there. First off, I am going to post over the weekend, so don’t forget to check in – as for today, news today is that Kyle Busch has decided not to go fulltime in the Nationwide series this season and will focus on Cup, running just the races that are at the same tracks.

I am getting ready to head to the track. Today, I’m doing the practice show and just general research around the garage. It will be interesting to see who is feeling good about their cars – I do think the fact that they ran this car here at Sonoma last year will help a lot of guys because the learning curve was so steep last time around. I’m looking for Tony Stewart to have a good race.

Yesterday, we shot the story on Alcatraz with Kurt Busch’s engine tuner Daren Russell. it was awesome – they gave us phenomenal access and the tower where his great grandfather watched over the prison is still standing. I will attach pics later.

Also, I had a photo sent to me from the Wednesday day with Dale, Jr. at the National Guard. Brian Christianson is a photographer that was there and he sent me the pic I’m attaching of Jr. shooting. I’ll put more of mine on later…  I’ll check back in a little later from the track!

cheers!

Lindsay

I just arrived at my hotel in San Francisco… more on why I’m staying here tonight before heading to Sonoma for raceprep tomorrow in a minute, but first, I have to tell you about my day with the National Guard.  It was awesome.  We went to Camp Butner, where the Guard trains outside of Raleigh. We got there at about 9:30am and all of the guardsmen were so kind. So, I met Pam, our producer, and Dave and Frank, our shooter and audiotech on the training ground and at 10:00, the blackhawks arrived. It was so cool – I have lots of pictures but don’t have my camera chord right now so I’ll hopefully add them tomorrow or Friday morning. Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Tony Eury Jr. (Dale’s crew chief) and their pit crew arrived in a pack of 4 choppers. There were about 60 Nat’l Guardsmen there to watch as they got off the blackhawks. When they got there, right away, they unveiled Jr’s car with a new paint scheme that he will run in Daytona. It is really cool looking – pixelated camouflage.

Jr’s Hendrick crew is made up of a really great group of guys and the first thing we did before our interview with Dale was get separated into two platoons. I was part of it and my group headed up a small hill where we were taught how to shoot weapons. The first piece of machinery that we had the opportunity to learn about was the M107, long range sniper rifle.  it required the shooter to lay flat on their stomach and shoot at a target about 300 yards away.  Junior was talking to the soldiers, we were all listening to the presentation and Tony Eury, Jr says “I think Lindsay should go first”.   There was no way I was getting out of it.  So, I got down there and did my best but it was a little nerve racking. Everytime someone shot the rifle, I jumped out of my skin.

Before lunch, I had a chance to do an interview with Dale (thanks to everyone, by the way, for question suggestions – I’ll go more into his responses in upcoming blogs). The highlights were as follows. About his win this past Sunday, Dale said the celebration was unbelievable – I know the gang partied a bit on Jr’s property at his western town. He said his family was so excited, that his mother and sister kept repeating themselves over and over. He also joked that it could have been because they had been out on a boat earlier that day:)  He also talked about how he feels he only has about 4 weeks now before critics/fans start saying it again .. “was it a flash in the pan”. He definitely thinks a championship is attainable. 

After the interview, we had lunch. We ate MRE’s just like the troops. Mine was “BBQ veggie burger”. pretty tasty, i might add. But after lunch, they bussed us down the road and we took part in a lifesize simulation .. there was a huge screen with about 6 guns (Dale’s line of the day was..”how much does a thing like this cost?”)   it was like a bowling setup but sniper shooting where we were all in lanes firing at the changing screens as enemies came over the simulated scenery..it was very cool.  Dale, Jr. was loving it and the whole crew had a blast. I will write more but am about to fall asleep on my computer after the flight out west.

Back to this evening. I’m staying in San Francisco tonight because first thing in the morning, I’m doing a shoot with a crew member of Kurt Busch’s team. his name is Daren Russell and his great grandfather was a guard on Alcatraz and was actually involved in the riots of 1946. We are going to meet him on the pier and go over to the island so that Daren can tell us the story for our prerace show. Am hitting the hay and will write more tomorrow.

cheers!

Lindsay

This story probably won’t surprise my co-workers, certainly not my mother, whom I was on the phone with at 7:20am this morning when I had realized what I had done. But, I think we can all relate, and I owe the Reagan Nat’l Airport gate agent a shoutout so I’m gonna tell it.

I was on route to Raleigh, where I’ve told you, today, I’m shooting a story with Dale Earnhart, Jr and his crew as they spend an afternoon with the National Guard.. we are going to do what they do, including shoot with them, eat with them, etc. I’m thrilled that Junior won because I can’t wait to hear how the week has been for him so far.. anyway, it started off as one of those mornings. I got up at 5am, stubbed my toe really hard on the ironing board, realized I’d left my makeup bag at the office and coudln’t hail a cab to save my life. Anyway, I made it to the airport (flight was at 7:30) but because I am doing this crazy zigzag travel today which ends in San Francisco, I coudln’t use the skycab so barely made the cut to check my baggage and get my ticket. I am not complaining, because clearly, had I gotten up earlier, this would not have been a problem.   Anyway, I go through security, am on a mad mission to get a cup of coffee and make it to the gate as we are boarding. I sit down in my seat and call my mom to say hi and that’s when something alerts me… check your computer bag.  At this point, I hang up the phone and look in my bag to realize…uh oh. I’ve left my computer on the belt at security.   So, the stewardess tells me to go find the gate agent, the gate agent looks at me shaking her head saying, there’s nothing she can do …she has to close the door. So I say, everything of mine is on that flight, I hand her my ticket and I take off sprinting before she can respond. I run all the way down to security in these new shoes that are sort of sliding all over the place. Its wildly embarassing because I get to security huffing and puffing and very disheveled .. the computer is no where in sight until a very wonderful security guard opens a big thick silver door that apparently is lost and found and holds up my laptop.. he says.. “what kind is it?”… of course, that’s when my mind goes blank because I’m frazzled but I compose myself enough to  squeak out a “Dell?!”

He hands it to me and I am off again sprinting – I can’t stand it when my shoes clack on hard marble and that’s what they were doing but I finally made it back on my flight because the gate agent was kind enough to help me out. I realize this is a very long story, but it is a miracle that I am now in my car, I have a brand new cup of coffee because they confiscated the other one while I was sprinting, and, Brian, the man whose driving me to the base is very pleasant conversation. I even got to call my mom back and see how her day was going. So I’m about to spend the day with the Guard, I will let you all know how it goes… have a great one!

Cheers,

Lindsay

NASCAR Notes

June 17, 2008

Hey there… I still can’t believe how unbelievable yesterday’s playoff round at the US Open was and I’m thinking that if there is someone, to me, that seems as steadfast and mentally, physically tough as Tiger Woods in the world of NASCAR, I’m going with Jeff Gordon. He might not have the wins to show for it this season, but he’s creeping up with quiet consistency. He is 9th in the standings and this week, he has a better chance than anyone to wipe away the frustrations at Sonoma because he has won 5 times there .. he even won 3 in a row back in 1998-2000.

Gordon is also a year out from becoming a Dad. I got to talk to him during a rain delay last week (I will write later about our pit reporting schedule because it is pretty interesting how things work once we are on sight) .. but anyway, as we stood there waiting to go on tv, he was talking to me about Ella. She will be 1 year old this weekend and Jeff beams when he talks about her. He said she’s moving around a lot and pushing things (like cars). He did say that in the beginning, they (he and his wife Ingrid) had built a really nice area (crib, etc) in his motorcoach so that they could be prepared weekends at the racetrack, but Jeff admitted that Ella was starting to keep him up crying at night so they had to choose for Ingrid and Ella to arrive at the tracks on Sundays so Jeff can get his sleep.

That takes me to last Sunday at Michigan. I spotted Ingrid with Ella, in a purple and white little sundress, by Jeff Gordon’s car before the race. I hadn’t met Ingrid, so I introduced myself … she was very cordial, and she told me that for Father’s Day, they gave Jeff a card with a picture of Ella on it holding a card that said something to the affect of “Go Dad”…  Jeff also said that they are having a big birthday party for Ella in Sonoma (jeff also has a wine of his own which is another reason he loves this race…besides the fact that he is from Vallejo, CA) .. but as I was saying, they are having a huge party for her.  We are not invited, but I will be sure to ask and get some insight.  Am running out the door right now, but will check back in later.

Cheers!

Lindsay

FINALLY!!!!

June 16, 2008

I didn’t expect Dale Earnhardt, Jr. to get his first win in two years with that kind of race…where he coasted to the win on a green-white checkered flag but i don’t think it mattered if he was battling Kyle Busch at the end in a shootout… he got the win and it was about time. 

From my perspective, in the back of the Brian Vickers pit, the sound of the crowd screaming, on its feet, as Dale Jr came to pass, it gave me goosebumps..and I could hear all of that through my big headphones. it still gives me chills as I’m writing this just to think about it.  Not just that, but also that he won on Father’s Day. Wow.

 I can tell you that Brian Vickers was going crazy over the radio. He had led the race and arguably had the most dominant car out there… when the caution came out because of the #10’s spin, Vickers lost it ..screaming what I can’t write because he thought he had it and the race was his. He composed himself afterwards but it must have been frustrating. It was a pretty entertaining race considering the new cars. When a race is that exciting at the end, its strange being in the pits because you can’t help but feel it and get energy from the anticipation as leads are swapping and pressures are rising. 

I want to go back to Junior. I mentioned before how Chris Cooley came down and did an interview with myself and Dale, Jr…talking football and Redskins. Cooley was the best – he is so down to earth and just chill. the TNT crew adored him and he knew a lot of people around the garage. Dale Junior is awesome to interview, but you know his time is very limited so sometimes, it can be hectic, but this interview was different b/c talking about football, he sort of came alive. At one point, Dale kept asking Cooley questions and I’m thinking, this is better than anything we’ve talked about so far. Dale told us about how when he was little, he would try to go find people to play against him and he would be dressed up in his Redskins uniform and how all he really wanted to do was play football but he was 5’3 when he got his drivers license and so they told him he could play soccer.. he did say he took his team to states:)  Earnhardt, jr. is the most straightforward, honest driver I’ve dealt with. I really admire him so much because there is just this honesty that comes across when you talk to him. He has been through so much and you can also tell that he’s guarded, but seeing him light up like that with Chris, was really cool.

I’m doing sports here Monday and Tuesday and then on Wednesday, on my reporting day, I’m going to Raleigh because we were invited to do a story covering Dale Earnhardt, Jr and his crew as they spend a day with the National Guard…we are going to go through some training, have MREs and Dale is flying in on an apache (I will fly Usair:)  but its great now that he’s won because I’ll be able to follow up with him.. I would like to know any questions that you, the fans would want to know from him and his crew chief because I’d certainly like to get them in for you…

cheers!

Lindsay

Saturday at Michigan

June 14, 2008

I’m about to go to the track – we have two practice shows today before our race tomorrow here in Michigan. Qualifying was rained out yesterday so the field is set on points, meaning Kyle Busch will start first. I was working the qualifying show and its pretty wild when that happens because it turns into a situation where you’re just walking around the garage looking for drivers that you can talk to during the delay. I found Dario Franchitti hanging out with his former Indy Racing teammate Tony Kanaan, outside of Jeff Gordon’s hauler. It will be interesting to see what these crews are able to discover with their cars today.

The other highlight from yesterday was shooting a special interview we are using for our NASCAR live show that is before our countdown to Green prerace show. Chris Cooley came down here to the track yesterday. He met us here because he’s friends with Dale Earnhardt, Jr (Jr. is the garage’s biggest Redskins fan) so I interviewed them together inside of a motorcoach and awesome… they are both very honest, funny people and at one point, Dale said “I would give up all of this to just be Chris Cooley for one season”…. I really hope you see the interview because Dale, Jr. was intriguing with his questions about football and the Redskins.  I have to run, I’m posting a picture from the interview and I’ll write more about it later!!!! My early pick for this race, Matt Kenseth.