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Great to see you Ernie Irvan! April 30, 2012

Posted by claireblang in 2012 Season.
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Another Irvan racing up through the ranks!

It did my heart good to run into my old friend and classic NASCAR racer Ernie Irvan (15 cup career victories) at Richmond International Raceway this past weekend. It was fun to just see Ernie again and to hang out in the garage and catch up on the Irvan family and interview him before the race for SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

It’s so hard to believe that Ernie and wife Kim’s daughter Jordan and son Jared are so grown up now and making their own mark on the world. With the support of Ernie and Kim -Jordan and Jared are flourishing. Jordan is an 18-year old high school senior who has been riding and showing Paso Fino horses and winning awards since she was 4 years old.

Jared is 14 years old and these days is behind the wheel racing. With his father’s skill, experience and tutoring, Jared is working hard to try to make his way into the NASCAR ranks one day.

Ernie beamed with pride as he took his phone out in the RIR garage on Saturday and showed me photos of his family!

So what about this young Jared Irvan? Chip off the old block?

“I’m trying to get him exposure to be able to race it if he wants to,” Ernie told me. “I don’t want to have him to do it if he doesn’t want to. Right now, he’s just eating and sleeping racing. Every weekend we go someplace because he wants to race. We’ve been running down to Anderson Speedway to run a small modified, we ran a Ford Focus and now were going to get ready to start testing a late model sometime this summer.”

Ernie said he doesn’t really know how it’s going to go but added, “I always expect it is going to be good and that is going to be the problem. Everything we do keeps costing more money but I want to help him all I can.” Irvan told me that he told his wife it doesn’t matter if they use up everything they have, if they can be there to support their kids’ talents then that is what they will do.

Ask a fan about Ernie Irvan and the most common answer I get is, “He was the man!” So is Jared Irvan like the storied Ernie Irvan, who gained a reputation as a hard-core up-on-the-wheel racer?

“I think he is a lot smarter than me because he knows when to lift,” Irvan told me of his son’s racing. “I think he’s aggressive with a lot of finesse. I was aggressive, but I forgot to learn the finesse part of it.”

Irvan told me that he learned finesse later in his career adding, “Hopefully Jared won’t ever have to go through those times and I don’t think he will have to but right now he’s aggressive with a lot of finesse so he does real good.”

The Irvan family moved back to the Charlotte Area fromCharleston,SCrecently for a number of reasons and they are  intact and thriving.

It’s hard to not to breathe a “Thank God” every time I see Ernie after remembering the horrific crash Ernie suffered at Michigan Speedway in 1994 while driving for Robert Rates Racing. He made a miraculous recovery and returned to racing at the end of the 1995 season with two top-10 performances. He returned to victory lane in 1996 with wins at New HampshireandRichmond.

You can follow the family on the newly created Irvan family website www.irvan.com.

Through the web site you can even send in photos and have them autographed and returned to you.

By the way, I asked Ernie Saturday who his pick was to win the Capital City 400 Presented by Virginia is for Lovers Sprint Cup Race Saturday night atRichmond.

His answer, “Kyle Busch.”

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What Matters Most April 7, 2012

Posted by claireblang in 2012 Season.
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Starting my 11th Season on SiriusXM

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The microphone in my broadcast studio

It’s hard to believe that this 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season is my 11th year of covering NASCAR for satellite radio.  I had been a reporter for years, covering NASCAR on television, radio and as a writer before satellite radio and the NASCAR Channel even existed.

I honed my skills and got tough in the trenches as a morning news anchor, morning show co-host, and news director, working my way up from college radio (no one else wanted to do the early morning shift) to local small-market radio to larger stations until I landed where I am today, host of “Dialed In” on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

To tell you the truth I can hardly remember when I wasn’t in radio, near or holding a microphone, a great deal of the time in the field.

Last season, I celebrated my 10th anniversary on the NASCAR Channel without any hoopla because I was so busy covering an ever-moving sport, and traveling to race tracks from February to November.

What matters most to me is that when I am done with all of this – some little girl, your daughter or granddaughter, will benefit from what it took to kick the door down and gain respect on sports talk radio.

For many of my years in terrestrial radio the female was the “swizzle stick” and I wanted to be Anderson Cooper.  It’s hard to put into words the support and respect that I got from the team members and drivers and their wives and owners in the sport since I walked into the garage with a microphone with the intent of turning all the attention on them. They have been most giving and have been the reason that I have been able to make it in my chosen field telling their story. I can’t thank them enough for the trust they put in me to be fair.

I am thankful for the work ethic that my parents taught me because it is true that if you work hard enough for long enough you can achieve your goals. I also believe that learning how to fall and get back up – is the one thing that separates those who achieve their goals and those who don’t. Success is easy, failing or getting knocked down and getting back up is the one key element leading to long-term achievement.  Everyone gets knocked down on life’s journey, a lot, and forks and pits in the road are part of life….so you get back up again and again and again until you get there.

This past Daytona 500 Speedweeks I was honored by the Living Legends of Auto Racing, along with a number of legendary drivers and those who have helped to make the sport what it is today. The Russ Moyer Media Award was presented to me by NASCAR President Mike Helton, and I was humbled to receive it. To be honored in the presence of the living legends whom I have covered for so many years is hard to put into words.

My studio is in my house and above the broadcast unit on my radio board is an engraved silver bar that reads “Be CALM, Be STRONG, Be GRATEFUL.”  I am truly grateful today to be in a medium that fits what I do in broadcasting. Satellite radio is like a canvas to paint on to me as I tell the stories of the truly amazing people in this sport.

Thanks to the listeners on Sirius XM many of whom have been loyal since the beginning. You all have seen this medium grow to where it is today, and into something, especially for those of you on that long and lonely highway in the big rig, it would be hard to live without.

I’ll keep working hard to do you proud.

Claire B Lang