Monday, November 10, 2014

Speeding to Arizona: Shooting NASCAR Race for USO, Interviewing Driver Trevor Bayne & Meeting Medal of Honor Recipient Fred Ferguson

I used to think NASCAR was as simple as driving fast cars around in circles for a few hours and calling it a day.

Boy, was I wrong.

This past weekend I headed down to Phoenix, Arizona to cover the USO’s presence at the NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) event at Phoenix International Raceway and got a true education about all the complexities and strategy that goes behind the sport. And yes, I said sport, you read that right.

After spending a full watching all they do out there on the track and talking to the drivers and pit teams, my opinion on whether or not to call NASCAR a sport has changed. It is totally a sport that requires quite a bit of strategy, team work and physical preparation.

Chess, however, is still not a sport. Sorry.

Anyway, the entire reason why I had the wonderful opportunity to jet to Phoenix was because Trevor Bayne, who drives his No. 6 Ford Mustang for Rousch Fenway Racing, featured the USO logo on his vehicle this weekend in honor of Veterans Day this week. In addition to having the USO logo on his far, Bayne also had Medal of Honor recipient Fred Ferguson’s name on his passenger door — something that I understood is very, very special in NASCAR and doesn’t happen very often at all.

While the weekend was a total blur (I was shooting photos and videos — fellow media people know doing both at the same time is craaaazy), I honestly enjoyed my time on the track.

I was surprised at how friendly and down to earth almost everyone I met was, including Trevor, who’s my age. Plus, I think I got some awesome shots and captured some special moments for Fred and the other USO VIPs that were with the group on Saturday. I even got to sit down and talk with Trevor on Friday before the race and snapped this Instavid!

Honestly, I felt very honored to be the one capturing this special occasion for the USO and Fred, who was a total hoot and a wonderful man. When I wasn’t busy shooting photos or videos, I found myself chatting with Fred and listening to all of his stories from when he was in the service. He’s lived quite an interesting life and has seen a fair amount of the world and country thanks to his service. I just hope that when I’m that old I’ll have such amazing stories to share.

You know, I think that there’s always something special to be learned from veterans and older people in general. All too often, I think people discount the elderly and their tales, or only remember those who served twice a year.

Meeting Fred and seeing how much he enjoyed Saturdays events — meeting people, being honored by a standing ovation, seeing his name on the car — was a nice reminder to continually say thank you not only to veterans, but people in general, a bit more than we already do.

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