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Attending a NASCAR Cup Series Drivers’ Meeting

Kamil Kaluski July 18, 2017 Motorsports 3 Comments

Last weekend I took my daughter to her first NASCAR race, the Overton’s 301 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Before heading out to the race I reached out to Toyota Racing to see if they had anything going on at the track that day, and they did. One of the things we were invited to was the pre-race drivers’ meeting. That sounded like an amazing, rare, and interesting opportunity all at the same time.

For those not familiar, before each driving event be it autocross, track day, a Lemons race, or a Formula 1 race, there is always a drivers’ meeting. Depending on the occasion, basic rules are underscored and specific issues about the track are addressed such as surface condition, proper pit entry and exit, areas of concern, and changes to the track. Any questions that the drivers may have are also answered.

I have personally attended many of these meetings and I truly value their importance. But I have only attended amateur drivers’ meetings which dumb-down things that even the most obtuse enthusiast should be able to understand. But these guys are professionals – what are their drivers’ meetings like?

The meeting took place in a track garage, the very same garage where each October a bunch of idiots repair their so-called $500 race cars before they ever make it to the track. There was a stage setup with a lectern and numerous seats on each side. The audience side of the garage had a several dozen rows of chairs with more than a dozen seats across in each row. Present were all drivers and their entourages which likely consisted of managers and crew-chiefs as well an usher or a public relations person. Behind them were people who probably were not directly associated with actual racing, and us.

The atmosphere is much different than in any other event I’ve been to. It is much more serious and official. It started with the introduction of the dignitaries. Chief Officers from NASCAR were introduced first, followed by the Governor of New Hampshire. Josh McDaniels, New England Patriots offensive coordinator was the official pace car driver, which was the new 2018 Toyota Camry XSE. Others included an Olympic triathlete Sarah True, Dave Matthew Band bassist Stefan Lessard, and Boston Bruin Brad. A distinguished Veteran was also honored – thank you for your service.

The introductions and thank yous were followed by a movie, as seen in the top picture, which specifically talked about the track and its layout, something I am sure all the drivers were familiar with by now. After that came the crew chiefs’ notes, which were rather brief, and the drivers’ notes. 

 The drivers’ notes included harness checks, caution vehicles, track escapes, and a note to stay in the car if you had an incident unless you were on fire. Much time was spent discussing cautions and emergency vehicles on track. Equally important seemed to be proper pitting, safe pit speeds (something that Kyle Busch was later penalized for), and single file formation. Despite that, them crazy boys and one crazy girl were four wide on pit road at one point in the race.

A track representative came to warn about gauges in track and other worn parts. Coincidentally the race had to stop at one point for an emergency track repair. Another track representative came to discuss completion of cautions, pit stalls, and pit staging.

The floor was then opened to drivers’ questions but there were none. The meeting ended with a prayer, which is something I did not expect or seen at an automotive event before. Following the meeting most drivers got into their golf carts and went back to their trailers, signing some autographs along the way, while others had quick media interviews.

I truly did not know what to expect from a NASCAR drivers’ meeting. I’ve seen clips from such meetings before, specifically this one with , but this was nothing like it. Everyone was cool and respectful, with the occasional chit chat between drivers and their crews. All of the points raised during the meeting were surprisingly standard, too. Perhaps the pros are not that much different than the rest of us after all?

[Disclaimer: Toyota Racing provided access to the drivers’ meeting for the purpose of this article. All images copyright Kamil Kaluski/Redusernab 2017]

  • “The audience side of the garage had… chairs…”

    Well, there’s one difference from any LeMons (actually, now officially Lemons) meeting I’ve attended.

    “Present were all drivers…”

    And, alas, there’s another difference.

    • It’s funny because it’s true.

    • roguetoaster

      It’s true in Chump Car too. Although a good 1/4 of the meeting seems to have to do with people asking the speaker to talk louder as they can’t hear, then another 1/4 tells us to slow down & stop being stupid -before the event-, or gosh darn it, they’ll stop the race, grab us by our Hans devices and give us a stern talking to.

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