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Fans Can Listen To Drivers Meeting

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Wednesday, May 13 2009

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor

NSCSASR_4C BLK_PRTThey are usually dull and always predictable, but people who have the chance to somehow work their way into a pre-race Sprint Cup drivers meeting usually grin like children all the way through them.

There are probably a variety of reasons for that – the chance to see drivers and crew chiefs in an informal environment, the feeling of being behind the scenes (backstage, if you will), the opportunity to just feel more involved in the race and racing.

The problem with most of those reasons is that the meetings are generally held in the tight confines of a garage or other infield buildings and that they tend to get so crowded that civilians can neither see nor hear what is going on.

And, of course, admission is limited to special guests of NASCAR.

This weekend, however, fans will be able gain electronic admission as Sprint will experiment with teleconferencing the pre-Sprint All-Star Race drivers meeting.

Tim Considine, general manager of Sprint’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series marketing department, explained the motives.

“We’re always trying to figure out how technology can help the racing experience,” Considine said. “As part of our Sprint Cup mobile product, we worked with NASCAR and talked about different types of content we might be able to funnel into Sprint Cup mobile.”

Considine said it didn’t take a whole lot of arm-twisting to get NASCAR officials to grant permission to do the drivers meeting.

“NASCAR is pretty open to granting fan access,” he said. “We talked to them about this and we agreed we would give it a spin at the All-Star race. The All-Star race is a time when NASCAR and the teams and the sponsors all do things that are a little different and special.”

The system has been tested over the last couple weeks, apparently will work and will be offered on Saturday night.

Though the project is a go, nobody is sure how it will go.

“I’ll be honest, there has been discussion about; is this something fans will want to hear? It can be routine. Pit rules and restart rules and things like that which, for people who hear it a lot, can be repetitive,” Considine said. “But for me, for an avid fan, that is the inside stuff. So to NASCAR’s credit, they agreed to let us try it and we’ll see. They’ll vote with their handsets.”

Considine does think, “No matter how close a fan is, they want to be closer. If they’re home, they’d like to be at the race. If they are at the track in the stands, they’d like to be in the infield. If they are in the infield, they’d like to be in the garage and if they are in the  garage or the pits, they’d like to be in the driver meeting. I’m sure if they are in the driver meeting, they’d like to be in the hauler. They always want to be closer.”

The broadcast, live and unedited, will be audio only and can be downloaded on NASCAR Sprint Cup Mobile (text NASCAR to 7777 – the same way that vote on the Sprint Fan Vote).

It is the first time in NASCAR’s 61-year history that they have let fans listen in to a complete driver meeting.

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Wednesday, May 13 2009
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