Daytona Beach, FL
It’s ironic to travel 1,000 miles to cover NASCAR’s biggest event sitting in a room, without windows, and almost 200 of my closest friends. Even if you’ve been covering the event for 30 years the amount of activity is bewildering. It’s like being in Las Vegas without the one-arm bandits, bells ringing and free booze.
There are banks of televisions blaring with the racing cable channels coverage of the final days of practice. They are our only link to the outside world although the garage area is only steps away. If you a solo reporter there is constant anxiety about leaving one’s seat to go to the garage in case of missing an interview in the deadline room or nearby theater.
One of the fringe benefits is being in contact with a bunch of coughing, sneezing, and wheezing writers suffering from a classic case of the “Daytona Crud” although symptoms vary from person-to-person, and I’ll spare the readers from turgid details, just let’s say some of us have a bad case of the flu. I feel a little bit like the hero in the movie of the Invasion of the Body Snatchers, instead of worrying about falling asleep, and being replaced by a pod person, I’m trying to hold my breath to avoid inhaling any nasty germs.
There is an endless supply of Coca-Cola, the new sponsor of the Speedway, so we can load up on caffeine and keep typing. Manufacturers reps are grinding their fingers to the bone transcribing the dozens of interviews. My workspace is piling up with these transcriptions and grid positions. A true case of information overload.
Many public relations reps whisper a little tidbit in your ear, either exchanging the latest “inside gossip” or a pitch to do an interview with their client.
Next door they’ve brought in some of the winner’s of the previous 50 races here, but, in the deadline room, manufacturers were trading comments with us.
The question is, how do you write something interesting without mentioning Dale Earnhardt, Jr.? No, he’s not doing anything wrong, to the contrary, since they unloaded his AMP/Energy/National Guard Chevrolet, he’s become the favorite to win the 50th running of the Great American Race. The problem is that everyone is writing about him, and, against conventional wisdom this writer just wants to write about something different.
Hey, anyone a Fellini fan? His movie, 8 ½, is about a seasoned director who has hit the wall, run out of ideas, that’s what’s going on today in my mind.
As a bonus for getting to the end of today's ramblings here's a link to an hysterical video spoof of wrestling, starring Juan Pablo Montoya.