Continuing a glimpse into SPEEDWEEKS, I have wrapped a few days into this post. Friday started with a bang, as the crunch was on to complete deals for the Bud Shootout activities. The biggest was a sampling contract that we literally had 3 days to draft, negotiate and execute before the benefits were began Sat morning. Signatures we exchanged late Friday and our on site camping guests were pleased, as it provided them with a sampling of Old Spice shower products for the upcoming days. During the madness of the day, I snuck away with my family for a few minutes to visit the Budweiser Clydesdales. My new friend, Hans, travels with the horses and their Dalmatian, Barley, 320 days per year. It was neat to be so close to these amazing animals….Mackenzie especially liked going into the stalls with this huge horses!

 

Next up, the Budweiser Shootout on Saturday. Great weather greeted us and the night concluded with a fantastic finish on the track. The ARCA race before the main event was well attended, but, as expected, was a bit of a demolition derby. I did not have any responsibilities during the day, so Amanda and I attended most of the race, but had to watch the finish from home, due to a couple of sick little girls. We spotted Jared from Subway, along with some RoushFenway racing folks during the race. The Shootout is the first change to see some of the change for the upcoming season and this year was no exception. Getting used to all the driver, number, sponsor and team changes will take some time, but here are a few of the most notable – Tony Stewart in the #14; Mark Martin in the #5; Casey Mears in the #07; Clint Bowyer in the #33; Joey Lagano in the #20; Bobby Labonte in the #96….and on and on and on…

 

Sunday was reserved for church and watching the Daytona 500 qualifying on TV. It’s great to see EGR driver Martin Truex, Jr. in the #1 on the pole, but also thrilling to see Daytona Beach resident, Mark Martin, on the outside pole. Looks like we are in for some surprises and new faces during the upcoming season!

 

Monday and Tuesday were pretty quiet on the track, but it seemed that the last minute deals and ticket sales were non-stop. A few track visits, combined with meeting on projects and contract completion for the weekend were the main highlights…Nothing too exciting there, but tons of work for sure. Wednesday will bring the start of a flurry of activity culminating with The Great American Race on Sunday!

 

Striving for The Best! -mwr

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I never thought mentioning a celebrity or two would attract so many hits. Yesterday, this blog had the most single day hits in its short history. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. I have some good posts coming, so stay tuned in 2009. Much of the next few months you will read about my experiences and involvement with the mammoth event in Daytona Beach we call “SPEEDWEEKS.”  Life will be fun, fast and furious. So, get in, buckle up and enjoy the ride. In the mean time, here are a few pics of my “friends,” Trisha Yearwood (2008), Richard Petty (2006 in WA) and current Steeler (former Jaguar) Byron Leftwich (2004).

Have an awesome day today and make the most out of what is before you!!

 

 

 

Striving for The Best! –mwr

I’ve tried to live my life in such a way that I am respectful to all people, regardless of if the world sees them a significant or insignificant. My job affords me the opportunity to work with celebrities like Kevin James, Kevin Costner, Trisha Yearwood, and James Caan during our race events as a “celebrity escort.” It sounds more glamorous than it really is; as my primary focus is to see that they (and their entourage) get many to places at the speedway on time, while negotiating crowds of over 250,000 people. It is a logistical nightmare to say the least, but I enjoy being in the mix of putting on the worlds greatest racing show!

 

Several years ago, Nicholas Cage came to the 500 as the Grand Marshal to promote his movie “Ghost Rider.” His agency flew in a private security person from New York to accompany us. I hit it off with the security guy and we talked often throughout the day. (He was a NASCAR novice, but very interested.) After Cage was gone, he told me he was impressed with the job we did with the schedule, transport, planning, logistics and the Daytona 500.  We parted ways, exchanged info and that was it!

 

Fast forward 3 years…..December 2009 – Amanda and I are in NYC, shopping at the Time Warner Center. I walk out of a store to see this very familiar person, but I can not place a name, context or anything….I just know that I know this guy! So after minutes of “pretend shopping,” I figure out who it is and walk up to him. (My wife thinks I am completely nuts at this point.)  Sure enough, it’s the security guy – nameless on purpose. CRAZY!!! I run into him in NYC of all places. After talking for a few minutes, Amanda runs up to me and within earshot of my newly reconnected friend utters “Hey Matt, there is Suri Cruise.” He replies “Well, I’m doing work for Katie lately.” I had kinda figured that out…..but next thing I know, we are walking along the mall with this crew! Amanda proceeds to fall in line right next to Katie Holmes and strike up a conversation – mostly about kids. It was a crazy encounter, but one predicated on the fact I was fortunate to meet, know and remember the guy who is suppose to be seen and not heard.

 

My friend gave us a dinner recommendation and we texted back a forth during the week, always getting good advice on places to see in NYC. The encounter just reminded me that it is important to value everyone. Not that the celebrity meeting was so incredible (although my friends think it was neat), but this world is a very small place! You never know when you will see someone again and it is always nice to reconnect with great people.

 

Striving for The Best! -mwr

NASCAR Banquet week is here and the Waldorf Astoria NYC will be buzzing with the best and brightest NASCAR has to offer. While everyone will be rightfully celebrating Jimmy Johnson’s 3-peat, one of the sports brightest stars embarked on an image / career move that may have an impact on our sport of decades. While he is commonly known by just 2 letters – JR – his 2008 change literally re-painted the NASACAR landscape.

 

From 2000 to 2008, the grandstands were a sea of Red. Now, there are hues of green and blue. Legions of fans pledged allegiance to a Fibonacci number. Now, they rally behind it times 11, albeit slanted left now instead of right. The game to get there was a nice disctrction during the latter part of 2007, as the Hendricks organization filed applications with the USPTO for numbers such as 38 and 81, before finally announcing the #88 was the chosen one.

 

What Michael Jordan – 23 to 45 to 23, Kobe Bryant – 8 to 24, more recently Manny Rameriez – Red Sox #24 to Dodger Blue #99 (eventually) and others did with mild success, Dale Earnhart Jr. has pulled off masterfully! In addition to almost single handedly revolutionizing (some insiders also think hurting)  NASCAR team sponsorships, Dale and his sister / manager Kelly Earnhardt Elledge started printing money with this seemingly simple shift.

 

They didn’t stray too far from the familiar 8 to make die-hards mad, but did pick up brands that every person (including those under 21) can wear proudly.  Merchandising is such a huge aspect of every Cup driver’s income stream that changing numbers and sponsorship can be, and in this case was, a windfall of revenue.

 

As we close the history books on the 2008 NASCAR Season, the 8 is a part of a merger with another struggling team (Gnassi-DEI Merger), while the 88 seems to be getting its house in order. Though this season started out strong for the 88, the latter half of the year was a struggle. My money is on the very real possibility that Jr. seems poised for a breakout year in 2009, which makes the February running of the Daytona 500 too far away for me.

 

Striving for the Best! –mwr