Another NASCAR season in the books

Nov 25, 2013


The morning of the 2000 Daytona 500 I received a call from Steve O’Donnell who was an old friend and now leading the NASCAR Series Marketing Department. Steve was short one guy and needed someone who could jump in and get up to speed quickly. Since I had grown up around racetracks and helped him in the past, he asked if I would be interested in joining his team. Just days before that call I had hastily quit my job without a plan and faith stepped in to give me the biggest blessing I could have imagined. 

Fast forward to 2013. Today, I can say I have experienced a lot and been a small part of some very special moments in NASCAR’s history. 

Top NASCAR moments in my career:

  • Six Pack – JHE has been in the middle of every one of Jimmie Johnson’s six championship ceremonies. When rolling out the championship stage after this year’s Ford 400 it became even more apparent that Johnson is one of the greatest drivers of all time and I am proud to have been there for all of his championship celebrations.
  • Wardrobe Malfunction – Prior to the start of the 2006 Daytona 500, the national anthem was going to be performed by Fergie from the Black Eyed Peas. She was dressed in a one-piece jumpsuit and didn’t want any of the wires from her in-ear monitors to show so her manager asked me to hide them. Needless to say that was one of the best jobs I have ever “had to do” and given the opportunity to do it over again I would remember to turn on her ear pack next time. #SorryFergie
  • Last Ride – While working at NASCAR, I had the good fortune of driving a pace car with the Waltrip family in it for Darrell Waltrip’s last race. As we came down the front stretch at Atlanta Motor Speedway Darrell bumped the pace car as he waved at his wife and children and I knew I was in the middle of a really cool moment.
  • Rockingham Skydivers – It was a windy day at Rockingham Speedway and I will never forget the moment when I asked the U.S. Army Black Daggers Parachute Team to abort their jump due to wind gusts. After telling me that they were the U.S. Army and there was no such thing as to much wind to jump, they proceeded to exit the jump aircraft and splatter all over the race track. After life fighting two guys out of the speedway, we received good news that no one was seriously hurt. However, we did make ESPN SportsCenter that night with video of a skydiver pasted to the front of the transporter for Dale Earnhardt Jr. (not my best day).
  • NASCAR Hall of Fame Voting –For the last four years, I have been granted access to the NASCAR Hall of Fame voting room as panel members discuss who will be inducted in the upcoming year. A fellow JHE team member, Brad Smith, and I are the only outsiders given the access to the room with the sole purpose of running audio and video. Since I have been sworn to secrecy I cannot discuss what I have heard in that room but without a doubt this is one of my favorite days of the year. It’s such a privilege to get a behind-the-scenes look at NASCAR history in the making.
  • Fate – My first day at NASCAR I was introduced to the girl in the office next to me who barely looked up from her computer long enough to tell me hello. Five years later, she became my wife so I reserve the number one spot for that fateful moment.

Since I received that call in 2000 the experiences keep getting better and the friendships keep getting stronger. I am excited to learn what the future has in store.

 


Categories: Career
Tags: NASCAR, Jimmie Johnson, Daytona 500, Michael Verlatti


comments powered by Disqus
michael verlatti