Monday, October 13, 2008

Bank of America 500 - Jeff Burton - a Racing "mensch"

The Bank of America 500 was won by a 41 year old racing "mensch" named Jeff Burton. Jeff held off some of the top drivers in the field like Kasey Kahne and Jimmy Johnson and battled for the lead of this race. At the press conference following the race, Jeff was the epitome of professionalism and the goal of pursuing your life's goals and passions. He said he loved racing since he was 7 years old. He battled not only on the track, but was "the next star" about a decade prior. He told us he had to fight through some of the ups and downs of career to be in the position this year to win the Sprint Cup this year.

His wife was there at his side. She monitored his progress from the pits, and sat on the side of the press conference room as well. He discussed focus and life balance. When you are preparing for a race at this level, the driver and crew need to have total team focus for success. When the race is over, it is time to celebrate. He wants his teammates to also have other interests and balance in their lives. He had a healthy perspective of being at the top of your game, but realizing that this is just one part of your life.

His team owner, Richard Childress, battling a cold or flu, sat to Burton's left at the press conference and showed his pride in Jeff's accomplishments. Early in his career, Jeff Burton, was mentored by Mark Martin. Mark had instilled in him the idea that the next race you win might be your last, so enjoy it. It also allowed perspective of winning and losing as well.

Burton also showed that physically he works hard to keep his body in the shape of an athlete ten years younger. This is another factor in keeping himself as role model of integrity to others in the sport. At the time when the sport is moving to more branding and commercialization and away from the old legends in NASCAR, Jeff Burton is the bridge between the past and the future of the sport. He has the drive, desire and determination to bring home the Cup. NASCAR and its fans should be proud to have such a role model at the pinnacle of its sport.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

NASCAR - Bank of America Week - Dollar General 300

Last night, I had the opportunity to attend the Nationwide Series - Dollar General 300 at Lowes Motor Speedway. Kyle Busch took the checkered flag. He has won twenty races this year NASCAR's , Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Trucks. Busch has won 8 Sprint Cup series races this year. He has another chance tonight at the Bank of America 500 to increase this total.

It was a night of rain, caution flags and a few wrecks with the race ending a little after midnight. The fans were enthusiastic and the drivers all seemed to be having a great time even with the delays.

Even with the gas crisis the infield at Lowes was full of spectators in their RV's and modified buses. This race gave me the opportunity to see the sport close up from the pit areas. The pits are a lot like going to war, you prepare and plan, you wait around and then their are about 20 seconds of adrenaline rush as the pit crews jump from the wall holding tires, large gas cans, and electric wrenches/drills.

During the race, there were some wrecks on the track in front of the pit area/near the start finish line. They towed the cars off the tracks into the garages. You could smell the fumes from the gas as they drove past.

Looking forward to tonight's race and learning more about being first person in the pits.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

A time to Volunteer - Race Playce -

Yesterday was spent around motorsports working on Race Playce, attending a press conference for the NASCAR Hall of Fame and then over to zMax Dragway for evening festivities.

Race Playce is an a heartfelt volunteer effort to build a state of the art playground that is accessible for children in wheelchairs. According to the Parks and Rec website. Race Playce "will be a play area without barriers, accessible for all children regardless of their abilities, a place where all children can play together. The playground was designed by children who worked with a professional designer. It has a NASCAR racing theme with play areas distributed around an oval track."

It is one of the first of its kind in North Carolina. Imagine you are a child in a wheelchair, your friends can go to a playground and go down slides etc. in order to do this you would have to have someone carry you. Well in this playground there is a ramp up to the top of the slide. This playground is being built by approximate 4,000 volunteers from around the community including a large contingent from Bank of America. I arrived on the site and was assigned to a team of six people. Our job was to measure, cut, and install rails along the ramps. We were guided by skilled experts from the community and the parks department.

Perhaps you can use Charlotte, NC as a "role model" for building this type of park in your community.