Bowles - Eye View · Thomas Bowles · Monday May 29, 2006
After three days of anticipation, it’s time for the big moment everyone waits for…Nextel Cup Race Day! Here’s my observations from Sunday:
12:00 P.M. Found a shortcut this time around to the race track, so didn’t have to wait in too much traffic for the first time all week…and I’m not going to say what it was, either. Next time I come to Charlotte, it’s gonna be in a helicopter!
1:00 P.M. Kim Meesters of Nextel PR gives me a FREE Nextel FanView to demo for the race. It’s the new technology talked about since February that you can rent on race weekends; the product will be sold on the market to fans as soon as Daytona in July. More on this later.
1:05 P.M. Stop the Nextel FanView “how to” session to watch the first two laps of the Indy 500. Predict successfully a multi-car incident within the first five laps…isn’t that almost a rite of passage at the Indy 500? That’s what happens when you start 11 rows three-wide.
1:30 P.M. Good for Haas CNC, but you know it’s a slow news day prerace when the only two official press announcements on the day come from a small, single car team.
2:05 P.M. How can you concentrate on a press conference when you have a random Scottish band banging on bagpipes and drums like they’re heavy metal wannabes? Welcome to the Lowe’s prerace ceremony.
2:45 P.M. Carrie Underwood photo op in Victory Lane. Did you know she sings country and has never been to a race before? That’s the biggest surprise of the day. Unlike other photo shoots all weekend, Charlotte PR representatives repeatedly have to tell large group of male photographers to take a few steps back from the subject. I wonder why?
3:30 P.M. Big news coming from the prerace drivers’ meeting…no air conditioning in 90 degree weather! Awesome! By the end of it, I felt like the Wicked Witch of the West melting in a puddle of my own sweat.
3:32 P.M. A team structure is very much in place even at a drivers’ meeting, with all the teams bunched together in little rows, driver and crew chief in tandem. One notable exception : Penske Racing, where Ryan Newman and Matt Borland sat one row ahead of Kurt Busch.
3:35 P.M. Every week, before the drivers’ meeting begins in earnest, there’s a list of people to thank. Think red carpet ceremony at the Academy Awards. Among those getting to stand for applause : actress Morgan Fairchild, Disney Chairman Ed Cook, and former Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly. How’s that for random famous people?
4:15 P.M. That has to be one of the most heartbreaking endings to an Indy 500 I’ve ever seen. You have to feel for the Andrettis.
4:50 P.M. Prerace at Lowe’s…in a word, pageantry.
5:20 P.M. You think you want to cover a race? Try standing outside this place…it is HOT. FOX just measured the temperature of the uniform of a crew member at 130 degrees.
Evening While the race speaks for itself, I was able to utilize the demo NEXTEL FanView on pit road for most of the event. While there are some technological kinks to be worked out (audio and video feeds were inconsistent at best) the potential of this new system is unlimited. Consider this…after every accident during the race, I was able to punch a few buttons and hear exactly what was said on the radio between every team involved in the crash.
Statswise, I could get specific information on any of the 43 cars on the track, and with the PRN radio feed programmed in, I never missed anything important when I was on pit road talking to or observing something else. I can’t believe they give fans this power…rent one at the track and you might as well become a member of the media yourself!
Midnight Four days at Lowe’s have come to an end much too quickly (as in quickly typing up columns for this website and Sports Illustrated, which might explain some huge gaps in blog time). While I’m grateful of the experience here, it’s been a pleasure sharing some of the ups and downs with you, the loyal readers.
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