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Home From Vegas But Barely March 3, 2009

Posted by claireblang in 2009 Season.
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Vegas was just sick!

Did you hear me interview Jamie McMurray this weekend? He was sick as a dog – said that last Wednesday he was so sick he could not have driven a race car. He actually had to have the hotel doctor make a room visit. I interviewed him – and a bunch of other race car drivers who were sick. Sunday night – about an hour before I finished the post race show I felt like I was hit by a truck filled with the flu. I was on the air when it came on and it is the only time in my life I felt like I knew exactly within the hour when I got ill. I barely left Vegas. If you were on the Vegas rental car shuttle and you saw a girl with her head on the rail of the shuttle that was me and it wasn’t a party that put me there . Honest, I was so weak that I had to ask people to help me. I ran into a listener who introduced herself and since she didn’t have bags she asked if she could help pull my bag, it was obvious I was about to keel over. I usually would say. “No thanks I can handle it,” but this time I could not. It was a good lesson cause I have never had to lean on others — I hated the feeling. So I let people help me get my luggage on and off the shuttle, and onto the airplane and the overhead. Blessings to everyone who helped me seeing how sick I was. I really don’t know how I got home without the help of others so thanks to the unnamed to helped. I was never more thankful to get home.

Where are you Atlanta?
I met the nicest people on the West Coast and they seemed so happy. Not trying to create anything artificial – I just felt as I met the fans on the West Coast that they were so appreciative and happy that it put me in a good mood and I just totally felt it when I met them. They came out late at night to watch the haulers, they screamed and jumped and got excited and were thrilled to be there and soak up every single small moment of the NASCAR circus being in town.

I’m wondering if we’ll see the same at Atlanta this weekend. I know it’s a different market. To me- it’s not all just about numbers of people –it’s the fans’ enthusiasm. Atlanta is a market that I would assume would embrace NASCAR as NASCAR has it’s roots in the deep south. Maybe that’s why sometimes it seems as if Atlanta takes NASCAR for granted. If you live in town maybe you don’t go to see your parents much as if you treasure moment with them when you live close. I live in Charlotte, NC and my parents and brothers and sisters live in Wisconsin so I miss them all the time and stay in touch more than they do even though they live closer. Maybe it’s that kind of thing. If the weather is nice I would hope Atlanta would show up big time this weekend- and have some fun – the kind of fun I saw people having in California and Nevada.

I’m not selling this – I’m simply observing. You can’t fake pure joy– and boy is it catching. I am just interested in what we see in Atlanta this weekend. By the way the weather forecast looks pretty good. Subject to change of course.

Observations – Check it out!
Scott Speed: I caught up with him at the care center after the Nationwide race on Saturday- at LVMS and was so impressed with his presence. The first few times I interviewed him he said he’d do his best in this sport and whatever came to him came to him and he wouldn’t worry about it. I was like “yea right.” I never saw a racer who made it with that attitude. But you know after getting whacked on the track and starting from the pole and just getting our of the care center- he had an inner peace I don’t usually see of drivers there and I have seen a lot of them there over the years. It was pretty impressive. I ran into him pre race and walked with him. He was so focused and had an inner calm. This guy seems to keep his head together and stay focused when the world is swirling around him. Could that translate to success on the track? We’ll see. Interesting to cover him this year.

Jeff Gordon: His fans have sent me so many emails. Have I seen a change in him? Not really – he’s always been appreciative of being in the sport – and he’s always had the fire to win. He is felling better this year and I think it shows in his driving. His back was an issue – no longer. Can it be true that Jeff Gordon was 23rd in points after Las Vegas last year. Woah. The SMI tracks are starting fan (PRN up to Speed) events with drivers on stage and when Jeff Gordon was asked about it he was the first to say yes he’d do it. I heard a story told to me the other day from a track official about Jeff and a guy who had a terminal disease. Not only did Jeff meet the guy but knew exactly what to say to someone who was dying…..the track official was in tears telling me how Jeff handled the situation with grace and deep sincerity and kindness but also with a deep faith, from the spirit, the heart. It’s good to see him figure into the story lines this year.

Carl Edwards: The man is really made of steel. He doesn’t flinch his timing is perfect (It’s the one characteristic I see in all champions). They don’t laugh at the wrong time or say the wrong thing at the wrong time or miss the timing in an interview. Sometimes in a pack of reporters when I leave the pack after getting what I need he will tap me on the arm as if to say thanks Claire for coming. He doesn’t miss anything. He’s always pleasant and on his game. The other day, I interviewed Carl while walking and fans noticed him – they came running and were talking to him and handing him things and we changed directions twice and he kept talking doing an interview. I always notice how his focus is about as strong as anyone I’ve ever seen.

Dale Earnhardt Jr: I have been covering him since he began in this sport. Usually I would use the word “respect” to define him. In previous years I would have always used that word when asked about him- more than any other driver. I am not seeing Dale Junior as the poster child for respect this year -yet. That is not a knock at all. He’s still a really nice and decent guy up close. I think he’s testing the lines of “too nice” and “I gotta show respect -not act a fool” that he learned as a child afraid to knock anyone around and pushing into “Damn I gotta get the job done and nice might not get me there.” Dale Junior has always been true and real -as I have seen in covering him and I would guess that he might be figuring out who he really is and how he wants to be as he grows at Hendrick so that he can be real about it. Cause he’s not going to give us anything fake. We’ve never seen any less from him. I remember the day that Martin Truex got his first Busch series championship and I went up on stage. Not bothering him I figured as owner I would not ask him too many questions. I said, “I hate to be a pain – but I’d like to talk with you.” He said quietly, “You’re not being a pain.” I never forgot the kindness because he didn’t need to say that. It was years ago – but it stuck with me. Or the sunglasses he designed that had the word “respect” on the tag. I knew that word was ingrained in him. Dale doesn’t like loud but if you are not asking for much he usually will do what he can to make time and he digs deep usually. I hope he doesn’t change that as he grows up. He’s a really decent guy. He’s just stretching.

Well that’s about all the observations I have now. I’ll talk to you more later. I need to get some sleep and fight this flu so that I can be ready to leave Thursday crack of dawn for Atlanta.

Thanks for all the emails to insidercbl@aol.com

To the anonymous people who I had to lean on getting home from Las Vegas: Thanks. You can’t imagine how sick I was and how much you helped me get home. You helped a stranger and I send you many blessings.

Claire B

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Infield at Vegas Behind the Scenes – Might Surprise You! February 27, 2009

Posted by claireblang in 2009 Season.
Tags: , , , , , ,
Las Vegas Speedway
Image by tequilamike via Flickr

Infield at Vegas
Behind the Scenes – Might Surprise You!

Hey! You know I was compelled to write you about something that happened last night as I got off air and left the media center. I never feel alone because listeners cross country and coast to coast are always with me on air. But it was dark, it was late (11 p.m. EST) and no one was here in the media center. I packed up my equipment and walked down the dark hallway and down the elevator to the main floor of the media center building.

I asked a security guard if the gate was unlocked and wove my way around the gates to my car and headed towards the exit. Well – by the time I got to the exit gate that would allow me to turn right and go into the tunnel to leave the track I saw the bright, gleaming NASCAR Sprint Cup haulers blocking my path and coming into the track.

I realized it may be over an hour before I could leave the track and I shut the car off.

Here’s the kind of thing that makes my day. As I sat there and watched the haulers come in by myself in the dark with the car turned off and tired from having flown in from the east coast that morning..a sense of pride began to replace any sense of tired. I noticed all the fans, a large crowd of them that had come into the track and gathered at the fence in the dark of night to welcome the haulers to town and to the track. The fans were laughing, and jumping around, and taking pictures and holding up their cameras and having such a great time that I enjoyed it immensely.

Soon a white van pulled up. Two PR reps had just left the spa which is attached to the media center and they were laughing and thrilled with the spa treatment. When their hauler passed by they jumped out of the van and ran over to the step of the hauler and jumped up – their hauler driver was laughing and joking with them and the atmosphere, again was one of laughter and full joy. How could that not catch on?

Security soon came up to shoo the PR reps from the step of the hauler – thinking they were fans and the reps began to laugh with abandon. Sitting in my car – I cherished the moment and laughed as hard as they did.

Finally – the security let our two vehicles slide through an open spot between two haulers and leave the track. As I moved my car between two of the haulers, which by then were beeping and laying on their horns in response to all the fans, I noticed one woman in a NAPA jacket jump from the crowd and stand in front of the NAPA hauler. Her friends shot photos of her and as I passed her I saw such a complete picture of eureka and joy and laughter and happiness that I thought – this is something really incredible. I am so lucky that I saw this tonight.

I could hear the haulers horns beeping in jubilation and tribute to the fans as I left the track. The faces of the fans who had come out late at night to just get a photo and see the haulers – no drivers, no racing, no teams, just the haulers gave me such a great feeling inside about the fans here at Vegas.

Here I was stalled in traffic and it turned out – it was the best moment of the day.

I feel pretty lucky to have been stopped in traffic to see it. Isn’t that how life is?

We are handed hardships or frustrations and then find out later that there was a reason -because the frustration ended up being a blessing.

Thanks to the fans who added joy to my day Thursday night on the road at the track late at night at Vegas Motor Speedway.

More from the garage a little later today. I just had to let you know about this seemingly small but really large moment last night.

Claire B

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