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Bristol Focus on Fans Should be Duplicated March 22, 2009

Posted by claireblang in 2009 Season, Tracks, Trackside.
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Jellovillians Unite for Bristol Fan Karma!

Saturday night I went to the campground area here at Bristol Motor Speedway known as “Jelloville”. I had gotten an email from a woman named Gloria who was a listener. She was headed to Bristol and had a birthday at Bristol Saturday night. The email read (in part):

“I want to extend an invitation to meet a wonderful group of fans while at Bristol this weekend. Some other tracks have famous areas of the campground, such as Hell Hill at T-dega, but none compare with Jelloville. Jelloville is located directly behind turn 1 just over the creek in the first row of campers. Just watch for the orange and black Harley Davidson colored camper, we will not be far away. You can also call Suzie, the “Queen of Jelloville”, she started the whole ball rolling about a year ago. Her camper is right in the thick of things. She is from West Virginia and Jamie McMurray is her favorite driver.”

The Jelloville group members met each other on the Bristol Motor Speedway chat room site. They began to gather, celebrate family and life occasions, trade paint about their drivers and bond. They camp together at races, some serve on the Bristol fan advisory board, and most of them talk to each other on line daily if not weekly and the group has become a support group in good times and in bad. The track has adopted this group – so much so that when I visited the area on Saturday night to bring my new friend Gloria a birthday gift….the president of Bristol Motor Speedway, Jeff Byrd showed up.

When Byrd arrived the Jellovillian group flocked around him and many new members of the camping area could not believe that the track president was there to hang out with them. Byrd wore a special event logoed vest which he removed and gave to one of the Jelloville campers. He cracked jokes and became one of them. The crowd went nuts. What was the president of a race track doing hanging out with mere fan mortals on race weekend? Well first of all members of Byrds staff were also there. They had formed friendships with this group and treated them as special track ambassadors. It was real and it counted. The staff at Bristol motor speedway didn’t just talk about the fans – they embraced them. A group from Jelloville even visited the track at Christmas and the track made special provisions for them to hang out in Bruton Smith’s suite and enter the complex. These folks have the cell phone numbers of the staff members at Bristol including the track president in their cell phones and they keep in constant touch – not just when it’s ticket renewal time.

Why the name Jelloville? Well it seems Suzie “the queen of Jelloville” makes batches and coolers full of jello shots. Now I know what you are thinking….but Jelloville was full of real cool people having a nice, but not a raucous, time. .These folks had become very close friends and warmly invited others into their group. I enjoyed a few jello shots and met a Jelloville camper who was at Bristol because he wanted to see a race before he headed to Iraq next week to serve his country. I was so moved by his story that I invited this young man to be a part of the SIRIUS NASCAR Radio pre race show and found out that he was actually carrying the Nevada flag in the Food City 500 pre race show along with fans from each state and a number of foreign countries.

In tough times, Bristol Motor Speedway did not cut the prices of their tickets. Instead, they used some of the money they made to give the fans more for their buck. They put on a Saturday Night Special legends race and shot fireworks off at the end of the night as if there was no tomorrow. The entire weekend was full of examples of being with the fans not just talking about them. Kudos to Bristol Motor Speedway.

To the folks at Jelloville – thanks for making me feel welcome. I came over after my Saturday night “Dialed In” show and I was ready to kick back a little. Their campground was an aura of positive, good natured fun. The jello shots were spectacular buy the way. Slipped right down so smoothly.

Shots to Jelloville and to Bristol Motor Speedway. The Saturday Night Special legends race was a spectacular idea and the way Bristol embraces the fans as members of the track is down right incredible, rare, and the right thing to do. Shots to Jeff Byrd and his staff.

Jello shots from Jelloville that is!

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Friday Blog- Pocono August 1, 2008

Posted by claireblang in 2008 Season, Tracks, Trackside.
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Pennsyvania 500Image via WikipediaHey: A quick note from the media center at Pocono Raceway. I interviewed Dr. Joe Mattioli Chairman of the Board and CEO of Pocono Raceway yesterday on air and he was up on the wheel. One quote during the interview from him was a real standout…he talked about NASCAR getting criticized by it’s players:

Doc Matiolli on “Dialed In” with Claire B Lang on XMSN Channel 144:

“I started with Bill Senior 40 years ago and Bill Junior and now we’re with Jimmy and over all those years they (NASCAR) may have had egg on their face four or five or six times in different situations and it always pissed me off because I felt that they made so many milllionaires – all these drivers and car owners they run around with their million dollar coaches and their multi million dollar jet planes their boats and every time they (NASCAR) have egg on their face these guys come out and bitch about NASCAR. I don’t see them going to any other sanctioning body- they keep staying here but they like to bitch – and they should get on their knees every night and thank God for NASCAR.”

Doc Mattioli said he does not think that the Pocono race should be shortened and that 80% of the fans that his group polled said they do not want the race to be shortened.

Here’s some interesting data. Average length (Hours – Min – Seconds) for the last ten races at the following tracks.

Pocono: 3:56:03
Bristol: 3:11:08
Daytona: 3:08:20
Martinsville: 3:46:58
Lowe’s (October): 3:44:37
Texas: 3:38:28

NOTE: With Lowe’s this is only the last ten October races because it is 500 miles and the May race is 600.

It’s a busy day with some interesting conversation and I’m slamming in the garage preparing for today’s show. I’ll catch you later on “Dialed In” and with more on the Blog.

Have a great day.

Claire B
Pocono Raceway

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Claire B Mail & Mobile Unit Location Daytona July 1, 2008

Posted by claireblang in 2008 Season, mobile unit, NASCAR, Tracks.
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Thanks for all the great emails you’all send me. I have posted a collection over at my Claire B Mail site.
http://clairebmail.wordpress.com

mail-pile
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I have also put my mobile unit location update in for Daytona hit the “Mobile Unit Locator” tab above or click on this link https://claireblang.wordpress.com/mobile-unit-locator/

California Speedway Notes June 6, 2008

Posted by claireblang in Tracks.
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Hey All! You have got to read this. I got an email from a listener recently – Larry – who sent me a note about California Speedway. He sent it to me and said he did not get a reply from anyone at California Speedway – so I sent his email on for him to the President of the track. You have got to hear what she replied. First, read Larry’s email :

May 24, 2008

Good afternoon,

It is with deep regret that I read of the impending schedule change which shall “reward” the California Speedway for its lack of ticket sales by awarding it a “chase” race date.

It is important to note that when Darlington and Rockingham (deservedly) lost Cup dates for lack of ticket sales, without being provided consideration for their weather woes, California is now being “GIVEN” not only a better race date but a CHASE date.

I / we / most people can totally understand that when a specific track does not live up to ticket sales expectations then they would (deservedly) have dates cut back and/or removed. But it is becoming more and more obvious that the “favored status” of your speedway means that regardless of whether one, one hundred or one hundred thousand (highly unlikely) show up, NASCAR will see fit to continue to support this most unproductive of race venues.

It would seem (more than) obvious to everyone (except maybe the Hollywood set) that California can do no wrong and will continue to occupy not one but two dishonored dates on the illustrious Cup schedule.

How disappointing. You must indeed be proud.

Larry Taylor

New Bern, NC 28560

Larry said he did not get a reply – and he said he bet someone he never would. I told Larry I’d send his email on to the President of the track . Sure enough I got a reply today to him that I was copied on by the track president. Read on:

Larry,

Claire B. Lang forwarded me your note. As I’m sure she would be willing to confirm, I jump at the chance to respond to any issues raised by race fans, especially ones based on factually inaccurate information because it allows us a chance to present our side.

Let me begin by saying should the date change at Auto Club Speedway, it most certainly won’t be as a result of any kind of “reward”. We have been petitioning for a date change for several years – unsuccessfully. The possibility of a calendar swap to a date with more appropriate weather conditions would only occur because of a request by Atlanta for Labor Day Weekend. Their management feels that a holiday weekend will have a positive impact in a market that continues to struggle and has seen attendance continue to decline.

That is not the case in California where our track is seeing slowly increasing attendance, even in light of the most horrific weather conditions imaginable. For that reason, we disagree with your suggestion that our track has a “lack” of ticket sales. In point of fact, we draw considerable more than so many events on the schedule. Small tracks that fill to capacity like Darlington, Miami, even Phoenix are considered successful while you view us as unsuccessful even though we sell more tickets than any of those facilities.

As for doing no wrong. We feel quite the opposite, that we can do no right in the minds of those from the heart of the NASCAR Nation. It’s a shame because it our aggressive, strategic and creative marketing that has driven our facility to what would have been the most highly attended Auto Club 500 since I have been at the facility. Mother Nature stepped in to rain on our parade but that monumental growth of ticket sales in an economy when other tracks are experiencing a decline, we feel shows that Californians are continuing to step up when it comes to NASCAR.

Fans here further demonstrated their passion is growing through their recent support of our Southern California NASCAR Day celebration. How ironic is it that out of every race track in the nation, it was Auto Club Speedway that sold the most pins for NASCAR Day, more than 16,000, and raised more money for the NASCAR Foundation than any other speedway.

I indeed am proud. Proud of a team that has made monumental strides in making NASCAR relevant in one of the most difficult but also most important markets in the nation. This all is good for the sport and with the passion for NASCAR that I know we share, I hope you will look at Auto Club Speedway with a little less venom in the future. We’re just pushing relentlessly for what is in the best interests of the sport and our SoCal race fans.

Best regards,
Gillian Zucker
President
Auto Club Speedway

How about that? I wonder which one is right – Larry or Gillian. Email me and let me know what you think. Interesting email in my mail bag.
Claire B
XM Satellite Radio

Friday of Race Week 2008- Charlotte- Lowe’s Motor Speedway May 23, 2008

Posted by claireblang in 2008 Season, Drivers, Items of Interest, Tracks.
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It’s been “As the World Turns” type of drama in the deadline room of Lowe’s Motor Speedway’s media center this week. First, H.A. Humpy Wheeler (SMI President) retires and holds an impromptu news conference that has reporters racing to the track – with little advance warning. The word “rift” has been used in more than one story headline – yet Bruton says that Wheeler has been talking about retirement for a year. Wheeler says he didn’t quite leave on his own terms. Calling his own news conference – was a signature Wheeler move and we haven’t seen the last of H.A. Humpy Wheeler who will continue to be a force in the industry. Could he work for NASCAR? He says it’s not out of the question and he has had a conversation with them.
Humpy pic

Then, Bruton Smith (Chairman of Speedway Motorsports Inc) holds a news conference and announces that SMI has purchased Kentucky Speedway. The former owner of Kentucky Speedway says he feels certain that the Speedway will get a Sprint Cup Series date – and as litigation is still in the air with the Kentucky Speedway lawsuit NASCAR says don’t jump to conclusions any realignment of dates has to have their approval and they don’t appear to want to add a date or to move a date to that part of the country at this time.

With all the SMI goings on there was little space in the daily rag to fit some of the other “good stuff” in. I thought I’d pass on some tidbits this morning on the blog before I head out to Penske Racing, Chip Ganassi with Felix Sabates Racing and then Speed Street where I will do today’s broadcast from the Chevy XM “Dialed In” Mobile Broadcast Unit.

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Catch some of these nuggets:

Dale Earnhardt Jr
The Role of NASCAR Villains:

WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE A VILLAIN IN NASCAR? JR: “You got to wreck people. You got to be mean. You got to work the crowd and get them mad. Do what villains do, kind of like wrestling. The bad guy comes in wearing black, flipping the crowd off and cheating doing things like that.”
WHO DO YOU THINK HAS BEEN THE BEST VILLAIN IN NASCAR? JR: “It changed. Everybody had their moments. There were times when dad was a pretty good villain. Jeff Bodine turned into a villain there for a while in my opinion when I was a little kid. ’88 was a good year for that, him and daddy wrecking each other. Darrell (Waltrip) never was a villain, Darrell just whipped everybody. You know Kyle (Busch) whether he wants it or not has sort of become that. He could end up using that to his favor. There are people who will cheer for the villain. There are people who like that mentality and pull for the bad guy.”
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MARK MARTIN
On Joey Logano/DEI Mgmt.

WHAT IS IT ABOUT JOEY LOGANO THAT MAKES EVERYONE EXCITED ABOUT HIS POTENTIAL? Martin: “I don’t know what it is. Joey is magic, take my word for it. You will see soon.”

DO YOU HAVE MUCH INPUT IN TO THINGS AT DEI OUTSIDE OF THE NO. 8 CAR? Martin: “Max, Teresa and John have been more interested in my opinion than anywhere else I have ever been. It still isn’t very much, but they are very interest in my opinion. I have a great relationship with Max and respect. The same with John Story and of course with Teresa as well. It is pretty cool, it makes me feel good that they are interested in my opinion on things from time to time. But, I don’t have a big role in it. I feel really good about where the organization is today versus where it was in October. I think it is very sound and made a lot of progress from where it was in October.”
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Elliott Sadler
On Sucking Oxygen and AJ

WHAT DO YOU DO DIFFERENTLY NOW TO PREPARE FOR 600 MILES? Sadler “I eat (laughs). I make sure that I eat a lot on Saturday night. I make sure that I eat a lot on Sunday afternoon, a big lunch to make sure that my body has a lot of energy and stuff to pull from. It’s a long race. Five-hours in a race car is very long. I take car of my body this whole week to make sure that I’m good mentality and physically for this weekend. I just make sure that I’m really hydrated. I’ve got a lot of fresh oxygen in my system and everything before the race starts on Sunday.”

WHY THE OXYGEN? Sadler: “There are a lot of guys out here that do (oxygen). Different guys either do it with the mask or in the (oxygen) chamber. It’s something that I learned from Dale Jarrett six or seven years ago. I take in a lot of fresh oxygen. I’m in a car for an hour-and-a-half today and another two or three hours Saturday. By the time Sunday rolls around on the weekend, you’ve got three or four hours of carbon monoxide in your system. So I try to take in some fresh oxygen Saturday night and definitely Sunday morning before the race just to make sure that my blood cells are as pure as they can be. When you’re in a car for five hours, you’re definitely going to get some carbon monoxide in your system. I’m just trying to take care of myself for longevity in the sport.”

DO YOU TAKE IN THE OXYGEN WITH A MASK? Sadler: “I do it with a mask because it’s just easier for me. I don’t really want to lie in a chamber; I’m kind of claustrophobic so I do the mask thing.”

HAVE YOU TALKED TO A.J. ALLMENDINGER THIS WEEK? Sadler: “I’ve got better things to do and more things to worry about than talking to him (Allmendinger). The Coca-Cola 600 is a big race here in NASCAR and I want to be focused and ready to go. Let’s just try and qualify and worry about that, I’ll worry about him another time.”
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Coca-Cola Pole Sitter Kyle Busch:
On Stuff:

What have you done this week racing so close to home? Busch: “Fortunately I have had a little bit of time off. I went out on the lake yesterday and finally got to enjoy my Centurion boat for the first time this year. The water is still a little cold, but it felt nice. I was able to do some wake boarding and was able to have some fun. I’m sore as all can be right now and I’m hoping that will be better for Saturday night. Other than that, it’s been a pretty calm week. Fortunately they haven’t had me doing too much stuff. It picks up now with today ………and Saturday and Sunday again. I get a day off on Monday and then we go test Tuesday and Wednesday in Pocono so back to it.”

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Jeff Gordon:
OK Fantasy Racers – His Chances for A Win on Sunday

DO YOU CONSIDER YOURSELF ON THE SHORT LIST OF FAVORITES FOR THIS RACE ON SUNDAY? Gordon: “I wouldn’t even put myself on the list. I think that we’ve got some work to do, performance-wise, but we’re such a good team that anything is possible. So I guess maybe you could put us way at the bottom of the list. When I think of favorites I think of people that show dominance or a lot of speed. To me it’s a very short list of people that are on the list that can win.”

THIS WEEK WILL BE THE LAST RACE HUMPY WHEELER IS IN CHARGE AT LOWE’S MOTOR SPEEDWAY. WHAT’S THAT GOING TO BE LIKE FROM A DRIVER’S PERSPECTIVE? Gordon: “That’s huge. To not really hear anything about it and for that to come out like that, I’ve never thought of this sport or Lowe’s Motor Speedway without Humpy Wheeler. He’s just constantly pushing the envelope. All the creativity and excitement and entertainment he’s brought for the competitors as well as for the fans, is definitely going to be his legacy. He’s set a high bar, for sure.”

DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE HUMPY PROMOTION?
Gordon: “Oh, man. I can remember back when I was a rookie in the Cup Series, he used to use us rookies quite a bit. I can remember we did human bowling up there near the Speedway Club one time (laughs). Probably the one that stands out the most was when we did a stagecoach thing where we came out in a stagecoach in a Western theme and there were like bank robbers and we were shooting little cap guns. I would have never done that today (laughs). Back then it was pretty comical.”

DO YOU EXPECT DALE JR. TO WORK MORE CLOSELY WITH YOU NEXT TIME (Restrictor Plate Racing)?
Gordon: “Not at all. I don’t expect him to. I’m not asking him to. It’s just that we have a better understanding. My goal as a driver is, I don’t car if it’s my teammate or not, to not allow them to make the pass. My job is to make sure my line is going forward and I’m using my mirrors. I’ve always said that. I did expect for that type of move to maybe happen later in the race; not at that point in the race. So now I know and it just allows us to work together and know that when those things happen, don’t take it personal. It’s just part of the way the race is unfolding at that point. And we’re competitors who want some position and sometimes that means working with your teammates and sometimes that means not working with your teammates. I’ve been in this thing long enough to know that I haven’t always made my teammates happy by everything I’ve done. But I think I’ve gained a little more patience over the years and know how much I want to have those guys on my side towards the end of the race. That’s way I try to make as many friends as I possible can If it’s possible.”
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That’s a wrap for this blog. I had better get up and at it. It’s going to be a busy day – and while there’s no action on the track at Lowe’s Motor Speedway I’ll be checking on the trucks at Mansfield Motorsports Park and spending the day kicking around the race shops in Charlotte.

Enjoy the day!
Claire B

Greetings from Texas Motor Speedway! (New Poll- Please Vote) April 5, 2008

Posted by claireblang in 2008 Season, Drivers, NASCAR Poll, Teams, Tracks.
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I have received a huge number of emails on the crash of Michael McDowell during qualifying for the Samsung 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. He joined me on the air on “Dialed In” on XMSN (Channel 144) a short time after the crash and while I have interviewed many drivers over the years after spectacular crashes – I was impressed with how calm McDowell was just minutes after such a spectacular and frightening crash.

One e-mailer in particular posed this question to me as an idea for a survey and I think it’s an interesting one for this week:

Which MWR driver’s crash was worse?
1) Michael Waltrip at Bristol
2) David Reutimann at California
3) Michael McDowell at Texas

MWR Crash

The e-mailer suggested that it was interesting that Michael Waltrip’s crash was in 1988 – 20 years ago….David Reutimann’s crash was one year ago and Michael McDowell’s was with the new car.

Many of the emails that I received were complimentary of NASCAR for the safer new car that NASCAR is using in 2008. Here’s an example:

Listener Email:

Hi Claire,

I have written to you several times this year and many times my comments have been flip, based on who I cheer for. This is not one of those times.

Michael McDowell’s crash was a sobering reminder that this is a dangerous business and nobody can afford to let their guard down. I have been a race fan for the last 40 years ( I am 48) and love the sport for the competition. There are those fans that go for the wrecks and I hate them. One year at the Knoxville Nationals some people in front of us said ” I hope we se some great flips ” and I and the people I was with were ready to take them down.

Bottom line is that the C.O.T. passed it’s final exam with flying colors today. Brett Bodine and Robin Pemberton should be very proud and Michael McDowell should be very grateful. And the legacy that comes out of this is that Tony Roper, Dale Earnhardt, Adam Petty, and Kenny Irwin brought change that will make the sport safer and better.

Michael McDowell joins Katherine Legge, Dario Franchitti, and John Force as examples of how motorsports has worked to put safety on the front burner and how all these individuals have gone on to race again.

Thanks,
Marv

Other emails mentioned what could have happened and what they saw Friday during qualifying as the crash ended and the driver walked away from it:

Listener Email:
Does the crash makes us fall into a false sense of security….Is there more the sport can do?….Can they really be satisfied with the results?….What happened if he hit driver’s side first instead of front corner first?….What about his feet and legs with the petals?….He looks pretty wobbly walking over to the ambulance.

Today I thank God that this young driver was able to walk away from this crash, kiss his wife and return to race another day.

Claire B
XM Satellite Radio
Texas Motor Speedway

Speedway Motorsports, Inc has agreed to purchase New Hampshire International Speedway November 2, 2007

Posted by claireblang in Breaking News, Tracks.
2 comments

It’s official now:

Speedway Motorsports, Inc has agreed to purchase New Hampshire International Speedway from Bob and Gary Bahre for $340 million in cash. The agreement was announced today here in the auditorium in the Media Center at Texas Motor Speedway by O. Bruton Smith, founder, chairman and chief executive officer of Speedway Motorsports, Inc. The acquisition is expected to close in the first quarter of 2008. Smith told us the track will be renamed New Hampshire Motor Speedway following completion of the acquisition. Smith was

NASCAR’S Chairman and CEO Brian France issued a statement immediately after the announcement was made that said, in part, “While we don’t have any details about SMI’s plans for NHIS, all sanctions for 2008 have been signed and finalized. As a result, there will be no location changes to the 2008 schedule that was released last month. This is important to the fans, competitors, broadcast partners and sponsors who have already made plans for the 2008 races. Looking beyond 2008, NASCAR will continue to consider requests by any track operator, including SMI, to relocate race dates. Under NASCAR’s “realignment” plan, we have worked with track owners to relocate race dates to meet the needs of our growing national fan base. Ultimately, any change must meet NASCAR’s objectives and serve our fans.”

Stay tuned for more details. Smith was his classic clever, humorous self as reporters lobbed questions at him regarding his plans and Smith, on his game, and obviously enjoying it, lobbed back answers that contained no specific details of what he planned to do with the track’s dates. With each followup and attempt to pin him down he lobbed back humorous come backs that at times sent the packed room of reporters in to loud gales of laughter.

One thing is for certain the 80-year old Smith does not plan to stop developing or buying tracks any time soon and he made that clear today.