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Mother’s Day Special! May 14, 2012

Posted by claireblang in 2012 Season.
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Home is where the heart is – Reflections on Mother’s Day Weekend!

As I sat in studio at Darlington Raceway Saturday and cut up with NASCAR’s famous moms on my annual “Dialed In” Mother’s Day broadcast special on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio I felt a little homesick in my heart as I wasn’t able to be with my mom on this  Mother’s Day weekend.

It was  my mother’s birthday and it was Mother’s Day so, while interviewing the most famous moms in our sport behind the microphone, I was thinking about my own brave, smart, wonderful and talented mother. My grandmother, who lived to be almost 100 and has since passed, was way ahead of her time and, along with my mother,  is another woman I greatly admire.  I’d give anything if my grandmother could have been around to talk to today.

Together, my grandmother and mother instilled in me a spirit that has enabled me to open a door wide open for the women who followed. These two women, by being willing to use their lives to raise children who would carry their dreams into another generation and accomplish things that they could never have dreamed of in their era, paved the way through me. The unselfishness of that is overwhelmingly kind and loving  to me.

My Mom! Therese!

This is my mother (left) holding a flower from her garden, which is a work of art! Beautiful, the flower and her! 

I thank my mother often for naming me Claire.  I treasure having a unique name that was picked especially for me. What a gift that she took extra time when she was so busy with my sister, who was just a toddler when I was born, to give me  the kind of name that I could make a mark with later in life. She must have been very smart to know it was an important task and she must have seen in me,  before I even came into this world, all the things that I could do with that name. The thought of that gift alone  is humbling to me and I think of it often when I sign off using my name on the radio. The credit, I always feel, should be hers.

My mother pushed me out of the nest and made me fly. When I graduated from college I sent tapes out for radio jobs and almost immediately got one in Iowa.  I won’t lie to you, I was not brave and I was not ready for the world on my own and I for sure did not want to leave and go to Iowa.

I could not imagine leaving my boyfriend and my friends and moving alone to Iowa to co- anchor a morning show. I was young and I was afraid.  I had no earthly idea that women at the time were not on the air in radio. My mother would not hear of me turning the opportunity down and almost kicked me out to go see the world. I cried a whole lot and it was the hardest thing that I ever did.

How immature! Thank goodness for my mom or I might have missed so much and may never have been a part of the world that I cover today.  Somehow, she knew that I had the raw talent (although not the bravery or the independent soul) and that I needed to use it.  My mother didn’t want me to miss what adventure and opportunity that she knew was out there for me. I didn’t see it myself but she did and,  somehow,  she knew that I could handle it.

Now, when I’m driving through Vegas, or leaving the LA Airport on my way to a track or driving up the Pocono Mountains in the dark of night,  I call my mom and tell her thanks. We  laugh about me having been the least independent of the children in the family, the least likely as a child to be the one who moved far away from Wisconsin and the one you’d never guess as a sensitive child would be the one traveling to these places and driving in the big city alone.

I don’t know how to possibly thank my mom enough. She’s an incredibly smart and talented woman – an artist, a brilliant mind, a skilled tailor following in the steps of my great, great grandmother who brought the first sewing machine from Germany to Wisconsin.  If given the chances my era had I’m quite sure my mother would have been a doctor. It’s so noble of a profession to have been a mother, to have been tough enough to give birth to and raise a child and then kick the bird out of the nest only to watch her  fly.

I hope that not only in my public life but in my private life that I never take what she gave me for granted and that I do her proud.

My grandmother Mamie!

Grandma Mamie and the Harley Davidson! Amazing Woman!

My grandmother Mamie had a personality that drew everyone to her. She was spunky, but a real lady. She married later in life for the standards of the day – when her mother told her either to marry her long-standing  boyfriend Ferd or let him go. She was a little woman and my grandfather built her a special kitchen so that she could work in it easily and he adored her.

When I got the first Harley Davidson in our family, or so I thought, I found out later that my grandmother Mamie hid a Harley Davidson in the barn that her parents did not know was there.  I adored my grandmother, who always made me feel special, and I miss her. Several years before she died I interviewed her and have the interview on CD so that her story, in her own words, can be passed on and remembered. I spent one whole day years ago  going through the antique photos that she passed along to me, her wedding picture and the wedding pictures of her mother and my grandfather’s mother. Mamie was spirited, and full of life and was the kind of person you wanted to hang out with over a cup of coffee.  She always had the pot on and she always had people from the neighborhood dropping in to sit a spell and just chat.  She made everyone feel special and welcome.

On this Mother’s Day weekend I thought  of something that I read one day that your mother stops so that her children can move forward. She is your first best friend, and the one who gives you life and helps you learn what to do with it.

My grandmother gave me unconditional love. She could have had a hundred grandchildren and she’d find a way to make you feel as if she understood you just a little bit more than the others. She  found every single special talent and sensitive spot that you thought no one would ever notice that you had inside and understood it.

My mother gave me strength, and intelligence and the bravery that I didn’t know that I had and my grandmother gave me a piece of her personality and an understanding of my creative side.

Together they gave  me all that I needed and more to make it this far and beyond in the world! The rest was up to me.

Mom, I love you,  Happy Mother’s Day!

“Dialed In” Mother’s Day Special

Co-Host Carol Bickford and the NASCAR Driver Moms Rock in Studio!

(Left to right) Nancy Sterling, Gaye Busch, Carol Bickford, MaryLou Hamlin! Rockin’ Moms in studio with me

(Left to right) Gaye Busch, Tammy Kahne, Carol Bickford!
Amazing women on the radio!

I want to thank Carol Bickford (mom of Jeff Gordon), Mary Lou Hamlin (Denny Hamlin’s mom), Gaye Busch (Kurt and Kyle’s mom, Pam Boas (Tony Stewart’s mom) Nancy Sterling (Carl Edwards mom), Tammy Kahne (Kasey Kahne’s mom), Meredith Bowman (Jeff and Ward Burton’s mom, Kay Keselowski (Brad Keselowski’s mom) and the rest of the moms who joined me for my annual SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Mother’s Day Special.

Carol Bickford is so much fun, so kind and easy to work with and each and every one of the moms who join me each year  make this one of my favorite shows of the broadcast season! Above,  are some of the pictures from the broadcast! It’s easy to see how these drivers made it into the top level of their profession with the love and support of mothers like them!

Mother’s Day is now a memory and it’s off to the All-Star Race but neither I nor the drivers take for granted that we have the support of our moms, not just on Mother’s Day but forever!

Amazing!

Hope your Mother’s Day was special too!

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Full NASCAR NW Penalty Here! May 1, 2012

Posted by claireblang in 2012 Season.
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Six NASCAR Nationwide Series Crew Chiefs Fined; Crew Chiefs, Car Chiefs Placed On Probation For Infractions At Richmond International Raceway

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 1, 2012) – NASCAR announced today that six NASCAR Nationwide Series crew chiefs had been fined and placed on probation for violations during this past weekend’s event at Richmond International Raceway. In addition, the teams’ respective car chiefs have also been placed on probation for the remainder of the year.

Crew chiefs Luke Lambert (No. 2 team), Danny Stockman (No. 3 team), Trent Owens (No. 30 team), Jimmy Elledge (No. 31 team), Ernie Cope (No. 33 team), and Mike Shiplett (No. 38 team) have each been fined $10,000 and placed on NASCAR probation until Dec. 31. Additionally, the teams’ respective car chiefs – Phil Gould (No. 2), Robert Strmiska (No. 3), Shannon Rursch (No. 30), Ronald Hornaday III (No. 31), Paul Balmer (No. 33), and Christopher Meyers (No. 38) – have likewise been placed on NASCAR probation until Dec. 31.

The rules violations referred to Sections 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing); 12-4J (any determination by NASCAR officials that the race equipment used in the event does not conform to NASCAR rules detailed in Section 20-A of the rule book); 20A-2.1E (streamlining of the contours of the car, beyond what is approved by the series director will not be permitted. Installation of air directional devices, underpans, baffles, shields or the like beneath the car or the car’s hood and fender area, front firewall, floor, rear firewall area, rear deck and quarter panel will not be permitted. If, in the judgment of NASCAR officials, any part or component of the car not previously approved by NASCAR has been installed or modified to enhance aerodynamic performance, will not be permitted. All cars must remain standard in appearance); 20A-3.10A (front upper bumper cover must be from the respective OEM manufacturer and must be approved by NASCAR. The front lower bumper cover and rear bumper cover must be from an approved manufacturer and must be approved by NASCAR. Once approved, the front lower bumper covers may be used on all approved models. NASCAR officials may use bumper covers provided by the respective manufacturer as a guide in determining whether a competitor’s bumper cover conforms to the specifications of the NASCAR rule book. Unless otherwise authorized by the series director, cutting and reshaping of bumper covers will not be permitted.)

The infractions were discovered during opening day inspection on April 26.

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.”

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