A day in the life of NASCAR driver Cole Whitt

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The best things in NASCAR thrive under pressure. Whether it’s the engine, pit crew or driver, it’s a game of constant pressure, a game of endurance that lasts from February to November. And the team that handles it the best wins the Sprint Cup.

“Typically, you’ve got several things to do,” said 24-year old Speed Stick driver Cole Whitt about his routine for each race weekend. “Each day, you wake up around nine, go to the track and take care of all of your pre-race track duties.”

The demands placed on a NASCAR driver throughout the season are intense. The idea that drivers get to the track, turn left for three hours and then resume their day-to-day life is false.

“After a race, you recover the rest of Sunday. You only get three days at home a week. Then you rest on Monday and try to tax your body with workouts Tuesday and Wednesday, travel again on Thursday – we’re constantly travelling or moving.”

But time at the track, both pre-race and during the race, are only two components of a busy schedule.

“You usually have media obligations both days, whether its interviews or appearances, and then the race. From the minute the checkered flag finishes, you’re essentially preparing for the next Sunday from that moment on.”

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This weekend, one of those appearances was for Speed Stick, signing autographs and giving away #35 T-shirts at a local Kroger grocery store, where the temperature reached the mid-90s. “I typically lose between 10-12 pounds per race. Sitting in a car is like being in a sauna for four hours.”

A test of mental endurance as much as physical, doubt can also creep into the mind of a driver during the grueling season.

“It’s really easy to get down on yourself, to doubt yourself, especially as a smaller team,” said Whitt about his crew, which is roughly half the size of the larger teams they’re competing against.

“It’s a different mentality here. If we’re Top 25, we are proud of our team. The team has to work as hard with half as much of the support as the big teams. But the biggest thing is staying mentally healthy and not feeling doubt.”

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Motocross legend Carey Hart on Harleys, breaking bones, business and relationships

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If I talk to one of my buddies on the phone and he says he’s recovering from the weekend, I know it’s because he got hammered. But when Carey Hart says it, it could be due to a life threatening injury.

“It was my 40th birthday. So it was kinda life threatening,” said Hart about recently hitting the big 4-0 and the ensuing party. “We had a big one. There was probably about 20 of us and we did a 150-mile motorcycle ride that ended at this cool little motel bar where my wife threw me a big party.”

Hart is rebuilding a H-D 2015 Road Glide Custom using 90 percent Harley-Davidson P&A. The build is in preparation for a ride from Nashville, TN to the 75th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally (Aug. 3-9), where he’ll showcase his creation as the 2015 Grand Marshall of the Sturgis Mayor’s Ride.

How did you get hooked up with Harley Davidson?

I got my first Harley when I was in my early 20s, and its always been a passion project of mine. Not only do I like riding them, but I like working on them. And just the whole culture of it. I’ve been to most of the rallys – Laughlin, Daytona, Sturgis – it’s just something I’m really into. I’m kind of in the twilight of my riding career, and I’ve come to the point in my life where I want to do more on the two-wheel bagger side. Harley sent me this bike and I did my version of a build on it. And I’m pretty happy with how it came out.

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At what point in your career did you accept getting hurt as part of your job and not having any fear of it?

As an amateur. By the time you make it to the pro level in motocross or where you’re at the level where you are doing contests, you’ve already had a good share of injuries. Very, very few riders make it to the pro level without a few major injuries along the way. It’s part of the job – it’s not about if, it’s when.

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Behind the scenes with NASCAR on NBC

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“The first event I ever announced was a women’s gymnastics meet at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln,” said Rick Allen, lead announcer for NASCAR on NBC. “The guy who was supposed to do it didn’t show up. And I just happened to be hanging around, so I did it.”

As the then-reigning back-to-back Big Eight (now Big 12) Conference decathlon champion for the Cornhuskers, as Allen was in 1991 and 1992, why wouldn’t you be hanging around the women’s gymnastics team? If charisma was a sport, he’d still be leading the league.

Allen’s affable, smooth, confident tone on the air transitions just as easily outside of the booth to the confines of the NBC Sports tent where we talked about his job as the voice of NBC Sports’ rejuvenated NASCAR franchise.

“Nothing about this position is easy, but I am privileged and very excited to be here.”

Allen got his start announcing races at Eagle Raceway in Eagle, Nebraska after getting a degree in speech communications.

He joined Fox Sports in 2003 and served as play-by-play man for Camping World Truck Series and Xfinity races until last year. Former NASCAR driver Jeff Burton and former crew chief Steve Letarte join Allen in the booth.

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“At any one time, I have five people in my headset, whether it’s my producer, our spotter, our stats guys… all providing me with information to make the broadcast as engaging and understandable as possible for the fans watching it. And that is on top of the conversations I’m having in the booth, with Jeff and Steve.”

Allen isn’t just a mouthpiece who acts like he knows what he’s talking about; the authenticity of his interest and enjoyment of NASCAR is palpable as he speaks. He’s the voice of the franchise and is excited about helping viewers understand the intricacies of the sport with the second biggest audience base, trailing only the NFL.

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On Location: Ball Up Streetball “Search for the Next” Tour with The Professor and Eric Gordon

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Streetball gets a bad wrap. After being exposed to the And1 Mixtape Tour, and occasional Rucker Park Tournament highlight, it’s easy to envision four guys standing around while one guy dribbles, each possession punctuated by a slam dunk with little or no defense.

But the Ball Up “Search for the Next” is completely different from its predecessors. It’s a 10-city tour looking for the best undiscovered player in the country that culminates in $100,000 and a roster spot for the tour’s winner.

In 2003, the most popular streetball player in the world right now, The Professor, was one of them.

While attending an And1 Mixtape Tour stop in Portland, Oregon in 2003, the 5’10,” 155-pound 19-year-old Professor competed in an open run competition prior to that evening’s game and did well enough to get invited back that evening to square off against Team And1.

After a solid performance in the game, he joined the team full-time and was suddenly getting paid to play basketball, literally overnight.

“Yeah, true story. We would’ve been fully content just watching the game,” said Professor about the experience. “I got there early and saw that there was an open run going on and that there was a chance. I hopped in as soon as I could and showed them what I could do.

“And next thing I know, I’m selected to play against the And1 Mixtape Tour team. I got the crowd excited again a few times in that game, and then that night, they asked me to go on tour with them, and I was just shocked.”

Ball Up started in 2009 and took the concept of touring streetball to a new level.

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Suave Men Heritage Edition and Dale Earnhardt Jr. want you to be a man again

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If NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his JR Motorsports teammate Regan Smith admit to doing it, then there’s no shame in admitting you have, too. So go ahead and unburden yourself – 80% of men have used their girlfriend, wife or spouse’s haircare products.

“We’re all guilty of getting lazy and grabbing whatever the girlfriend or wife is using,” admitted Earnhardt Jr., as he forced a room of roughly 40 men to confront a grim reality about themselves.

“And, you know, that stuff’s not made for men: It’s not made for your hair. Guys out there, stop being lazy. Get the haircare products for our hair and for our needs.”

The numbers are appalling. 70% of men are interested in their own personal style, yet only 20% actually use products made for men.

But Suave Men wants to change that. And they know that education leads to prevention, and ultimately, choices a man can be proud of.

The “Suave Men Heritage and Hair: A Discussion with the Icons of Speed and Style,” took place on the eve of the NASCAR XFINITY race in Brooklyn Park, Michigan.

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