After lunch on Friday I made sure I was in position to hear and see everything during Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s media session outside of his hauler. The crush of media wasn’t as thick as it could have been because Carl Edwards was having his session at the same time at the hauler next door. Obviously in a situation like this Dale overrides Carl.
Now, I feel like I must share something with you before you can understand the immense importance and weight of the moment I had that day. See about four years ago, way before I started this blog, I was a full fledged NASCAR fan but I wanted more and I didn’t know how to go about getting it. I hated my job, let me say this again, I hated my job and I knew that I had to figure out something to do in my life that was totally me — something that was made by me, for me, about me.
I’ve always wanted to do my own thing in business, seriously just ask my mom, whose kid wanted to buy a “Business Kids” kit when she was 8? Whose kid went dressed as a business woman for Halloween when she was 10? And whose kid was obsessed with cash registers and was ecstatic when she finally got a real one when she was 13? So you could say I was just sort of interested in becoming an entrepreneur.
Anyway, when I started this blog I finally realized that writing was really my thing, it’s something that I’ve always loved and until then had done just for myself. But in writing about NASCAR I found that maybe I could use it as my bridge to independence.
Plus I knew that I really wanted to be at the races. I wanted to be a part of it but I didn’t know how I was going get there. And obviously because Dale Jr. has been my favorite driver ever since I became a true fan of the sport, I always wondered how I could get myself in his proximity.
And I don’t mean that in an icky, groupie, pit lizard kind of way because that’s not what I’m about. To be clear and I don’t know how much more clearer I can get than this — I want to have a career writing and talking about NASCAR, I’m not a skank and I don’t aspire to be one.
So back to the situation at Dale Jr.’s hauler, I wedged myself in between two other reporters, mostly dudes, if not all, and propped my arm up on top of the AMP beverage refrigerator so that my digital tape recorder was within a reasonable distance of Dale. He started off answering a question about his thoughts on the reconfiguration of the Budweiser Shootout, and then commented on how he felt about Brad Keselowski’s opportunities for the future.
I had a clear question that I could ask, that no one up until that point had asked, at least not that I’d heard. He was scheduled to go to the set of the NBC sitcom “The Office” on that previous Thursday and I was going to ask how that had gone, after all it’s one of his favorite TV shows. Well the guy from the L.A. Times got to it before I did. Turns out Dale hadn’t gone to the taping. For some reason he went to the DirecTV offices.
He proceeded to tell us how he complained to the folks at DirecTV about their remote controls and how the positioning of the numbers so low on the remote isn’t very comfortable when you’re trying to change the channel. He’s apparently dropped the thing when trying to switch the channel to a specific number. I had to agree with him on that one, I have had DirecTV in the past and the numbers are so low that you have to change your whole hand orientation in order to switch the channel to a number you know by heart.
Anyway, he was funny and made everybody laugh multiple times. But the coolest freaking part was when he was talking about the DirecTV remote and he was looking at all of us asking if we knew what he was talking about and he looked right at me, like straight at me. I had to say to myself, “How the hell did I get here? This is amazing!”
It was so awesome, and I’m glad I didn’t have a moment like that until my 7th race as a member of the media. If it had happened sooner I might not have appreciated it as much as I did. It sounds really silly, the guy just looked at me for two seconds after all, but for me it represents more than just that. It means that I’m headed in the right direction and that I can make whatever I set my mind to happen.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. speaks with the media assembled oustide his hauler at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. on Friday, August 29, 2008 (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)