At NASCAR Summit, a season starts anew – Nascar
CONCORD, N.C. — NASCAR has its own version of spring training in January, but instead of the drivers or teams, it’s the folks working behind the scenes who are getting in preseason reps.
The annual NASCAR Summit Presented by American Medical Response (AMR) concluded its three-day run Tuesday at the Embassy Suites Hotel & Conference Center, where hundreds of dedicated track services, medical, safety, and security workers prepared for the season ahead.
Now in its 16th year, the NASCAR Summit has provided open forums and sessions for those workers to learn about best practices and innovations to help make the sport go from weekend to weekend.
“This meeting is really one of the best meetings of the year and it really sets our tone for the season in terms of safety,” said John Bobo, NASCAR Managing Director of Racing Operations. “We have operations here, security, we have our medical personnel and we really get to look at what we did in the past season and then we get to look at the season ahead and do everything we need to do to prepare for it, but it’s the special people who run toward the blue light and run toward the siren and toward the fire. These are those people and it’s great to be with them and to figure out everything we need to do to make sure every event is safe and all our competitors are safe.”
NASCAR Vice Chairman Mike Helton echoed those sentiments before Tuesday’s awards ceremony, where unsung heroes in the medical, security and track services fields were recognized for their outstanding contributions.
“One of the most particular reasons that I enjoy saying hello to you and a thanks to you is because in order for NASCAR to do what it does, it has to have a heart and soul of people who are of the character that run toward a situation instead of away from it,” Helton said, “and there’s nobody in our organization that is as significant as the group that is in here today for this summit that represents that character of our sport.”
Attendees of the annual conference gathered information and learned techniques from five general sessions Monday and then chose from 11 breakout sessions Tuesday in their various fields. Subjects ranging from proper jet dryer operation, injury trends among NASCAR pit crews, track painting and preparation and an update on the NASCAR Green Initiative were among the offerings.
Summit participants also sampled wares from 26 exhibitors and vendors. Among the presenters was new premier series entitlement sponsor, Monster Energy, handing out stickers and free samples as its relationship with stock-car racing grows.
“I think we’re as interested in Monster as the general fan is interested in Monster and what changes that’ll bring and how things are presented, what life is like at-track,” Bobo said. “We certainly do appreciate Monster being here at the Summit and all they’ve done to support us. They’ve certainly kept us (going) through some of the sessions late in the afternoon, so it’s been great.”
During the Summit’s awards ceremony, the NASCAR Foundation announced that $4,845 had been raised from Sunday’s Trivia Night, a charity raffle and other donations over the three-day convention. The honorees for exceptional service from the 2016 season were:
• Mission Award: Daytona International Speedway
• Teamwork Award: Kentucky Speedway
• Innovation Award: Pocono Raceway
• Excellence in Track Services Award: Jay Donnay, Homestead-Miami Speedway
• Above and Beyond Award: Dr. Angela Fiege, Dr. John Maino, Dr. Brian Nao
• Nursing Director Award: Jackie Coats, Watkins Glen International
Contributing: NASCAR Wire Service