Childress team member quits over liquor ads
Childress Team Member Leaves: NASCAR's controversial decision to allow liquor sponsorships has caused a popular personality in the garages to quit because of his religious convictions. David Smith, a former crew chief for the late Dale Earnhardt and team manager and pit crew coach for Richard Childress Racing, told Childress during the offseason that he couldn't work on a car backed by a liquor company. Last season, Childress teams were sponsored by AOL, Cingular and Goodwrench. When AOL dropped out, Jack Daniels took the spot. "The absolute hardest part of this deal was to tell Richard that I was leaving after 25 years," said Smith, who in four decades has been a six-time all-pro jackman. I had a great job, the best anybody could ask for. I may never have a job as great as that again, but I'll have peace of mind from knowing that what I did was the right thing to do. That's worth more than money." Liquor sponsors Jack Daniel's, Jim Beam and Crown Royal will be prominent throughout the sport this season. Smith said his decision actually was made years ago when he gave up his wayward ways to become a Christian. "I trusted the Lord with my life, and He changed it around for me," Smith said. "I went to work for Richard in 1979 and told him when I went there that I'd work for him as long as he didn't have an alcohol or dirty magazine or gambling sponsorship on his car. And he was OK with that." Dave Blaney, who drives the #07 [RCR Chevy] sponsored by Jack Daniel's, said he's not much of a drinker, but he's proud to be associated with his sponsor. Childress said that although he and Smith are on different sides of the liquor issue he still respects him highly. "I've admired David Smith for years," Childress said. "I've always said I wish I could have been as strong a man as he was many, many years ago."(Atlanta Journal-Constitution)(1-21-2005)
Fisher eager to drive 'anything with fenders'
Former IRL driver begins stock car career under RCR tutelage
LEXINGTON, N.C. -- The eyes sparkled. The smile shined.
A driver stood before a phalanx of microphones and recorders Tuesday night, politely answering questions and occasionally cackling a hearty laugh. The hair was neatly trimmed, and a pair of sun glasses sat on top of the driver's head.
Of course, the driver wore a pressed shirt with team and sponsor logos.
What makes this scene different is the driver. It's former IndyCar driver Sarah Fisher.
Fisher, the three-time IRL most popular driver. Fisher, the winner of an IRL pole at Kentucky. Fisher, a five-time Indianapolis 500 starter.
Fisher, the poster child of the racing series that once touted itself as the place for American open-wheel drivers to have a chance.
Fisher, already a star in her own right.
She'll drive in the NASCAR Grand National West Series this season in a car owned by Bill McAnally. Richard Childress Racing and the NASCAR Drive for Diversity program are also supporting the program.
Childress also hopes to run Fisher in two Busch Series races later this year.
So after pursuing a career in open-wheel racing, Fisher has switched to stock cars.
"It's been in my head a long time," Fisher said. "I just didn't have the balls to do anything about it."
She laughed, of course, but the sentiment was accurate.
"Defies logic, yeah," Fisher said. "I gave my heart and soul to the IRL. I really believed in what they were doing. I gave five really good years of my life to them.
"I'm ready for a new challenge. I see this as my long-term life. I want to be a part of a family."
That a former open-wheel driver is in NASCAR is not new. Jeff Gordon, Kasey Kahne, Ryan Newman, Tony Stewart -- to name a few -- all grew up on Midgets and Sprint Cars.
So did Fisher, but her career was in IndyCars. The climate of the IRL changed, to the point where Fisher had exhausted all her opportunities.
"It's a little confusing, what their mission statement was five years ago and where it is now," Fisher said. "Where I see my future is in stock cars. There has been more opportunity and more welcome from this family."
Her venture into stock cars began with an innocent statement by Childress last April at a Chevrolet function in Washington, D.C.
"He made the brief statement, joking, 'Hey, if you ever want to drive one, call me,' " Fisher said. "So I called him.
"He was on his way to go hunting. Imagine that."
Childress was responsive, telling Fisher he was glad she called but he'd have to figure out a program for her.
"I figured if there was a lady out there not scared of speed like the way she run those IndyCars," Childress said, "she could jump in this things and do really good."
Fisher drove a Late Model for DeLana Harvick's father, John Linville, and did "all right," she said. Childress then put Fisher in a McAnally car last year and proved her worth.
"She showed us she could drive a stock car," Childress said.
So with the help of the diversity program, Childress put together a deal with McAnally for this season.
"We're hoping to run her in two Busch races this year if everything works right in the West coast," Childress said. "She knows that this is a training curve for her. It's a lot different than IndyCars. We're real proud about having Sarah come aboard."
If Fisher shows promise, she'll move up. She would love to be in a Busch car full-time in 2006 but is leaving her career in Childress' hands.
"Richard Childress knows how to develop a racecar driver," Fisher said. "I'm sort of on his time frame. What he advises me to do, I'll be there."
The switch promises to be difficult, Fisher said, but she's in it for the long haul.
"It's not going to be easy," Fisher said. "I won't budge from that. There's a lot to learn, and there's a lot of respect to gain. I'm not here to make a statement. I'm here to race cars and do the best job I can.
"I need to go out there and win races. I know we can do that here."
For now, "here" is stock cars.
"This is definitely my long-term program," Fisher said. "I want to be in anything with fenders on it."
______________________________ ______________________________ _____
She's a local girl from here in central Ohio. I've always liked her. Hope she is successful at it. It's a shame she never got hooked up in the IRL.
SPEED Channel Unveils “NASCAR Nation”
da link to the article
SPEED Channel Unveils “NASCAR Nation”
Written by: Erik Arneson Charlotte, N.C. – 1/26/2005
SPEED Channel’s much-anticipated new show, NASCAR Nation, will make its debut on Feb. 21 at 7 p.m. Eastern and Pacific. Airing each week of the race season, Monday through Thursday, NASCAR Nation will be the signature show for SPEED’s NASCAR TV block of programming, concentrating heavily on features and all-access content.
“Much of what SPEED Channel has done with NASCAR since re-launching the network in 2002 has been about the racing and what’s going on at the track,” said SPEED Channel President Jim Liberatore. “We are proud of the way the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series audience has grown since moving to SPEED, and with the successful development of programming from our traveling SPEED Stage. SPEED Channel felt like 2005 was the appropriate time to step up and develop a signature NASCAR program. NASCAR Nation will be that program.”
"NASCAR has always tried to find ways to bring our fans as close as possible to the sport's athletes and the competition on the race track," said Mike Helton, President of NASCAR. "We are pleased to see NASCAR Nation on SPEED Channel making our sport even more accessible to fans."
"NASCAR Nation is the definitive all-access show for NASCAR fans," said Jeffrey Pollack, Managing Director, Broadcasting and New Media, NASCAR Digital Entertainment. "It's fun, fast-paced and takes viewers behind-the-scenes like never before. NASCAR is a lifestyle for millions of people coast-to-coast, and this show has been designed just for them by SPEED Channel, NASCAR Images, and NASCAR Digital Entertainment.”
http://www.speedtv.com/_assets/libra..._photo.web.jpg john willenborg from apprentice 2.
Top, from left: Connie LeGrand, Marty Smith, Courtney George, Ralph Sheheen. Bottom, from left: John Willenborg, Michelle Fizer, Krista Voda (SPEED / SpecialtoFS)
On-air talent for NASCAR Nation will include Ralph Sheheen and Courtney George in the lead anchor positions, Krista Voda as Senior Correspondent, Connie LeGrand at the News Desk, Michelle Fizer and John Willenborg as field reporters and NASCAR.com’s Marty Smith on the business of NASCAR. (Bios attached)
Rick Miner, SPEED Channel SVP Programming/Production and Executive Producer, has been supervising the development of NASCAR Nation. Having introduced successful shows including Trackside and Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain, Miner feels the new SPEED show will have a feel all its own.
“NASCAR Nation will provide a unique opportunity for the fans to be immersed in the NASCAR lifestyle,” Miner said. “Whether it’s taking them behind the scenes at the track or into the lives and lifestyles of personalities from all over the world of NASCAR, NASCAR Nation is going to deliver access never before seen by the fans of the sport.”
Although Sheheen, Voda and Smith have all spent extensive time in the world of NASCAR, several of the NASCAR Nation faces will be new to the sport.
Cast member from Trump reality Show “The Apprentice” declares NASCAR Nation citizenship
Viewers may recognize Willenborg, a cast member on last season’s reality television hit, The Apprentice, and -- believe it or not -- a former SPEED Channel intern.
“I am tremendously excited to be a part of NASCAR Nation,” Willenborg said. “I have been a race fan my entire life and now to get a chance to work on this show is a dream come true. I know that there will be many challenges as a newcomer to the industry but I am confident that my drive and passion for the sport of racing will make it successful. NASCAR is one of the most complex and exciting sports today and I can’t wait to bring a new and unique perspective to the fans.”
“I’m looking forward to giving NASCAR fans a new and refreshing look at the sport they love, and I love,” said George, who comes from a sports anchor/director position in Florida. “NASCAR is a popular sport with many interesting people involved. Whether it's a driver, crew member or owner the stories and events that take place all season long will give viewers a new perspective on the sport and the teams they follow. I hope the show will allow fans to feel closer to the sport and the people involved, give them a real sense of involvement and appreciation for everything that is NASCAR.”
SPEED Channel is the nation’s first and foremost cable network dedicated to motor sports and the passion for everything automotive. From racing to restoration, motorcycles to movies, SPEED Channel delivers quality programming from the track to the garage. Now available in more than 68 million homes in North America, SPEED Channel is among the fastest growing sports cable networks in the country.
NASCAR NATION ON-AIR TALENT BIOS
Ralph Sheheen, Anchor
Birth date: August 23, 1964
Birthplace: Utica, N.Y.
Residence: Huntersville, N.C.
Career history: Has covered multiple series, specials and news events for SPEED Channel, including work in NASCAR and World Rally, as well as co-anchoring SPEED News … Broadcasting career began with ESPN, covering an IMSA race in 1988 ... resume includes stints with ESPN2, Fox Sports Net, TBS, TNT, NBC, TNN, CBS ... has covered all forms of motor sports from swamp buggies to Formula One, highlighted with a list of "firsts" including the first live coverage of the NHRA's prestigious U.S. Nationals and the first live coverage of the World of Outlaws Knoxville Nationals ... CBS Daytona 500 pit reporter
Hobbies/interests: Heavily into Harleys and the proud owner of an "extremely" customized 1997 Fat Boy ... loves to ski and follows most major stick & ball sports
Courtney George, Anchor
Birth date: October 5, 1976
Hometown: Columbus, Ohio
Residence: Charlotte, N.C.
Career history: Second ever female main sports anchor/sports director in Florida … regional college sideline reporter for TFN … weekend sports anchor/reporter in Albany … AF2 sideline reporter … anchor/reporter, Macon, Ga. … graduated from The Ohio State University with a BA in Communication … honored for excellence in broadcasting by Int’l Executive Guild of N.Y.
Hobbies/interests: Love to workout, play fantasy football, watch and play all sports, travel … learning how to cook, but not very well! … always up for Road Trips to new and exciting areas of the country.
Krista Voda, Senior Correspondent
Birth date: May 31, 1974
Birthplace: Clinton, Iowa
Residence: Charlotte, N.C.
Career history: Host of Fox Sports Net’s Totally NASCAR … since joining the Fox Sports family, has anchored several programs for SPEED Channel, including the Nextel Title Sponsor Press Conference, the Dale Earnhardt Tribute concert, and SPEED News … a regular contributor to NASCAR This Morning with appearances on The Best Damn Sports Show Period …sideline reporter for ACC basketball … prior to her move to Fox Sports Net in June 2002, Voda served as the weekend sports anchor at WLEX in Lexington, Ky., where she covered college football bowl games, NCAA basketball tournaments, the Cincinnati Reds and Bengals, as well as the Kentucky Derby … a native of Iowa, Voda got her start in radio as the sign-off announcer at her hometown AM station, KROS, in Clinton … first TV job was with KWWL in Waterloo, Iowa … other radio work, both on-air and sales, included WKQQ and WVLK in Lexington … worked for the Kentucky Thoroughblades, a minor league hockey team, before finding her way back into television at WLEX … graduated from the University of Northern Iowa.
Hobbies/interests: Sports and travel
Connie LeGrand, News Desk
Birthplace: Columbus, Ohio
Residence: Greenville, S.C.
Career history: Grew up in Columbus, Ohio -- "Bobby Rahal country” … attended first race in the eighties - the Indy 500 … graduated from Clemson University with degree in marketing -- earned Masters from the University of Georgia … news anchor at Fox affiliate in Greenville, S.C., for last eight years … For the past year, Connie has anchored SPEED News, where she has been given the best seat to observe the growing racing community.
Hobbies/interests: Knitting, exercising (ok, doesn't actually enjoy it, but does it), politics and boating.
Michelle Fizer, Field Reporter
Birth date: July 7
Hometown: Columbia, Md.
Residence: Miami, Fla.
Career history/highlights: Worked as an Entertainment Reporter for Deco Drive, WSVN-Channel 7, Miami for four years … before getting into TV, was radio personality for morning show, The Breakfast Club, on WWWZ-FM, in Charleston, S.C. … midday DJ on WEDR-FM, Miami … Miami correspondent for the nationally syndicated Tom Joyner morning show … 'Celebrity Buzz' columnist for Miami's award-winning 'Miami Metro Magazine' … named in Miami's 'Ocean Drive Magazine' as one of their '2002 Faces of South Beach' … played a leading role in an episode of 'America's Most Wanted' shot on location in Miami.
John Willenborg, Field Reporter
Birth date: January 21, 1980
Hometown: San Francisco, Calif.
Residence: San Francisco, Calif.
Career history/highlights: Grew up in San Francisco and attended UC Berkeley …won three Division I national titles as a member of the Cal Rugby team … started racing go-karts in college, and most recently has been racing sports cars in the SCCA Pro division … won the 2003 Western States Championship (Spec Miata series) … in addition to sports cars, races motorcycles at the club level (AFM) … in 2004, selected from more than a million applicants for NBC’s hit reality show, The Apprentice.
Hobbies/interests: Racing, motorcycles, photography and fitness
Marty Smith, NASCAR Business Reporter
Birth date: April, 15, 1976
Hometown: Culpepper, Va.
Residence: Huntersville, NC
Career history: Following graduation from Radford University in 1998 (B.S. Media Studies), spent one year at the Lynchburg News & Advance in Lynchburg, Va., covering Liberty University Athletics and NASCAR … in May 1999, accepted position with NASCAR as a staff writer for NASCAR Online. Held that capacity for a year and a half, until Turner Sports purchased the rights to NASCAR.com … in Jan. 2001, became Staff Writer and columnist for NASCAR.com, since promoted to Senior Writer/Columnist … began doing occasional television work with CNN in 2001 following Dale Earnhardt's death at Daytona International Speedway, and have continued to appear on CNN sporadically throughout the past four years … joined SPEED Channel in 2004 as panelist on cult favorite Pit Bull.
Hobbies/interests: Working out, playing basketball and softball and competing in triathlons (this is a new development). Virginia Tech Hokies football. John Deere tractors, cold beer, good ol' country music and hanging out with my wife and friends.
St. Dale.... has a nice Ring to it :lol
From the ThatsRacing.com site.
A novelist shifts gears to NASCAR
In research for 'St. Dale,' author becomes new fan
By SAM HODGES
The Charlotte Observer
Three and a half years ago, novelist Sharyn McCrumb knew almost nothing about NASCAR world. Even the names of famous drivers stumped her.
"I thought Kurt Busch was the governor of Florida," she said.
Now McCrumb could pass a comprehensive exam about stock car racing. She knows its history and current cast of characters, and she delights in explaining such terms as drafting and gear ratio.
The best evidence of her expertise is her spirited new novel, "St. Dale." It's about NASCAR fans (and a few reluctant others) on a Canterbury Tales-like pilgrimage honoring the late driver Dale Earnhardt, who periodically reappears to offer hope and perform miracles.
Will NASCAR embrace McCrumb's humorous but heartfelt offering? She'll find out beginning this week, as she goes on a book tour heavy with stops important to the sport, including Charlotte.
"I have no idea what to expect,"she said. "I could be the Salman Rushdie of NASCAR."
This allusion -- to the writer who faced a death sentence from Islamic fundamentalists for producing a novel they considered blasphemous -- would seem to be hyperbole. The "St. Dale" dust jacket comes with endorsements from Junior Johnson, Ward Burton and Kyle Petty -- big dawgs in NASCAR world.
McCrumb, 56, grew up in various parts of North Carolina, mostly Burlington. She graduated from UNC Chapel Hill in 1970, and went on to get a master's in English at Virginia Tech.
She has long been a published author, earning a strong following in Charlotte and elsewhere for what she calls her "ballad" novels about the Appalachian Mountains. Such books as "The Rosewood Casket," "She Walks These Hills" and "The Songcatcher" offer memorable characters and stories and reflect McCrumb's extensive research into Appalachian history, culture and ecology.
For years, McCrumb wanted to explore in fiction her fascination with the mass outpouring of grief after the deaths of certain celebrities. She saw a religious quality to the graveside vigils and wreath-layings, with many parallels to the pilgrims Chaucer wrote about in the 14th century.
Elvis Presley qualified as a subject, but didn't do much for her. Princess Diana was more intriguing.
But the overwhelming response to Dale Earnhardt's death in a crash at the 2001 Daytona 500 caused McCrumb to commit to a NASCAR novel, drawing on the Canterbury Tales for structure.
Though she didn't know much about NASCAR, she had a leg up in understanding the affection for Earnhardt.
"He was from North Carolina, and so was I," she said, adding that many boys she grew up with were just as car-crazy, fearless and down home as the famed driver of car No. 3.
McCrumb began her study of NASCAR with poet friend Jane Hicks, the one literary type she knew who closely followed the sport. Apart from Hicks' tutorials, McCrumb read extensively. She started with "NASCAR for Dummies," progressing to Charlotte writer Frye Gaillard's book on the sport, Frank Vehorn's biography of Earnhardt and various other relevant books and articles.
McCrumb also took a NASCAR course at East Tennessee State University. She interviewed Junior Johnson and Leonard Wood, of Wood Brothers Racing, and spoke as well with sportswriters and fans. She agreed to speak for free to a Junior League in exchange for skybox privileges at the speedway in Bristol, Tenn.
She and Hicks visited other tracks and watched many races on TV. McCrumb became fluent in NASCAR-speak, but Hicks told her she wouldn't be a real fan until she became emotionally invested in a driver.
That began to happen when she learned that Ward Burton had formed a foundation for wilderness protection -- an issue dear to her heart.
With Hicks, McCrumb watched a race on TV in which Burton crashed spectacularly. Recalling the moments before she knew he was OK, McCrumb said, "I'm crying so hard I can't see the television. Jane drops a Kleenex box in my lap and says, `I think you found your driver.' "
McCrumb has befriended Burton, who will sign copies of "St. Dale" with her Monday morning at a Roanoke bookstore, near her home in the Virginia mountains.
Though McCrumb said "St. Dale" was more fun to write than her other books, getting it published brought hassles. There was an auction, and three publishers bid -- far fewer than might be expected, given that McCrumb has had New York Times best-sellers.
Even at Kensington, the firm that won the contract, the attitude was "you're crazy, but we'll give you a contract anyway," McCrumb said.
She had to fight for the sleek black cover that features Earnhardt's No. 3. The publisher initially wanted something far more feminine, in hopes of attracting female readers -- the main buyers for hardback fiction.
McCrumb also pushed successfully for a rewriting of the dust jacket copy, which she said was too much like that for her ballad novels.
New York publishers are even more NASCAR ignorant than she was, McCrumb said, and can't imagine that race fans read novels.
The author of "St. Dale" takes umbrage at that. But she also takes comfort in the numbers.
"There are 70 million NASCAR fans," McCrumb said, adding that she and the publisher will do just fine "if one half of one percent buy this book."
Meet the Author
• Sharon McCrumb will be at Park Road Books, 4139 Park Road, on Thursday, beginning at 7 p.m.
MCCRUMB ON NASCAR
• Her favorite driver: Ward Burton, partly because he challenges the NASCAR image with his environmental work.
• Her favorite tracks: Martinsville and Bristol "I love the short-track races."
• Her favorite NASCAR technical term: "gear ratio."
• What's on her vanity car license plate: "StDale."