Friday, August 21, 2009

Where Have I Been?

I know that I have been terribly negligent about posting this past week and I felt that I owed my faithful and not so faithful readers an explanation.

Believe me, I've been having fun. I had an opportunity to do something that I had only dreamed of doing. So here it is.

Great Lakes shipping is one of my hobbies but I have several others. For the past year and a half I have been writing a weekly column for a NASCAR web site. I became a NASCAR fan after my oldest daughter moved to Concord, North Carolina for a teaching job. Concord is right in the middle of NASCAR country and visiting there we got hooked on the spectacle of NASCAR. After I retired my teaching, I found an opportunity to write the column and I've been doing it faithfully whether I had something important to say or not. You can read my past columns at Brenda Benedict Columns.

NASCAR recently opened up their definition of the media to include web-sites which had been excluded in the past. This was partly due to the economic downturn for newspapers and also an acknowledgment of the popularity and legitimacy of the internet in news reporting.

The website that I write for is Insider Racing News and it was one of the 29 sites chosen by NASCAR to obtain media rights at races. So my editor suggested that I represent IRN at the race at Michigan International Speedway and I jumped at the chance. So last weekend, I traveled to Brooklyn, Michigan near Jackson and got to live the live of a sports reporter for the weekend. I loved every minute of it. I was rubbing shoulders with reporters from ESPN, USA Today, and Scene Daily. I basically sat back and learned how the system operated. The media is heavily weighed with males and there were not many gray haired grandma's there so I stuck out. I didn't care. I got to see everything close up and then write about it. My idea of a good time.

I attended the driver press conferences. Here, Tony Stewart is answering questions which ranged from technical to really weird and he maintained his composure during all of it. Some of the drivers weren't so diplomatic.

My credentials included a 'hot pass' which means I had full access to the garages. Here Kasey Kahne's engine is being replaced prior to qualifying. It was a quick and smooth process with lots of workers who each had their job and did it efficiently and quickly.
Michael Waltrip's team is making adjustments to his car during practice. I had to be very aware of race cars and my main job was staying out of their way.

The opening ceremonies and especially the flyover were wonderful up close.

Watching the race from the press box may have spoiled me for future races in my living room. I could see the whole track and wasn't depending on the TV to show me one section of the track at a time. The room was air-conditioned with snacks provided. The best part for me was that race data was everywhere and I was constantly aware of what was happening every lap. NASCAR PR kept bringing us updates of what was happening in the race. I loved that. But nothing can be better than a recliner to watch the race from and taking a nap during those laps when the drone of the cars puts me to sleep.
Are any of you NASCAR fans? Let me know who your favorite drivers are. I'd love to hear about it.

This week I've been working as a consultant and literacy coach in Grand Rapids Public Schools which I've been doing on a contract for the past year. My contract expires on Sept. 30 and I don't know what the future will hold. I may be a full-time resident on the St. Mary's River and that can only be good!


Cathy Clementz said...

HOW COOL WAS THAT??!!!! WOW!!! Maybe we'll see you on ESPN sometime!! congrats!! Great shots.

Bill K. said...

I am a Talladega Knight's fan. I lived about an hour from the track when I liked in Alabama. Went up there every chance I got...which was not to often thanks to my job. I was a Police Communications Officer for the State of Alabama. I would go up the Talladega to visit a Warden friend of mine at the Work Release Center there and we would go to the races.

Nice update Brenda. Good Pictures. Maybe you should consider becoming a full time reporter for

I haven't been around too much this wee. Had a lot of appointments. Had to go to Petoskey for a few days.