Twenty-three years ago, I got my first “talking gig” in North Carolina. I was hired to be part of the announce team at Charlotte Motor Speedway for the Summer Shootout. Last night wrapped up another year and what a journey and amazing BLESSING this gig has been.
I have watch so much young talent and shared so many experiences with talented racers and their proud families. I have watched thousands of young and old drivers put their skills to the test; some looking for a career in racing and others just looking for the next checkered flag.
The Summer Shootout is Magic: It is everything racing is supposed to be crammed into ten night each summer. It is commitment, competition, family, friends, success, heartbreak, lucky breaks, bad calls, winning, losing, fun, frustration……. racing.
And to have a front row seat for these years is something I never take for granted.
I am blessed.
In 2017 I received the greatest honor I have had in racing: The Tom Van Wingerden Spirit of the Legend Award. It is the highest honor in my career. For Tom, the Summer Shootout was about family, competition, camaraderie, and fun. As a passion-driven guy I appreciate that award because of who it is named after and what is stands for.
Did I mention I am blessed?
Enter 2020 and the news that we would not be having fans at the Summer Shootout and I was heartbroken.
How could we have a summer without the “Chicken Dance”, the “guy with the fancy hat” or that random guy walking in with six hot dogs, an order of nachos and four Coca-Cola’s for his family (all in two hands)?
The reason I LOVE the Summer Shootout is the interaction with the fans; I LOVE radio, I LOVE the TV work I have done but my absolute favorite form of talking about racing is while interacting with fans live at the track. And in 2020 that was taken away.
Enter a new phase for the Shootout and a new blessing for me.
Friends Tony Stevens and Brian Nagy do LegendsNation.tv and they had the pay-per-view rights to the Shootout. With the advent and explosion of pay-per-view racing it was part of the sport I wanted to get into as a broadcaster but with the zany schedule I run was a challenge. But the Summer Shootout schedule worked, and the deal was inked.
A new challenge and I love those: watching on a television monitor, telling the stories about the drivers/series/track, a director in my ear, a camera in my face, no crowd to gauge reaction….all rather new experiences and stuff I grew more comfortable with as the season progressed.
And, a different interaction with fans – no longer in the stands – but via social media. So instead of a “guy with a fancy hat” it was a grandmother tuned in from New England, an active military man from Cyprus or a restaurant owner from Canada. WHAT FUN!!!!!!
What a journey!!!!
What a blessing!!!!
Thank you to Bruton Smith, Marcus Smith and Greg Walter – thank you for allowing me to be part of the Summer Shootout.
To Tony Stevens and Brian Nagy – thank you for the friendship first; but allowing an old short track announcer to “pivot” into a new 2020-friendly form of covering racing.
To my pal Lenny Batycki and the crew – Tony, Jacob, Brian, Andrew, Thomas, and Kris – what an honor to work alongside you men.
If I have not mentioned it: I am blessed!!!!