Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Please take your seats.
I want to welcome everyone to the first class of "Credentials 101: An Introduction to covering NASCAR as a media representative."
After starting with a few opening words, we will pass out a syllabus, and quickly proceed to why we are all here.
Recently NASCAR issued a statement containing information about a new media project.
In the coming weeks, NASCAR will begin evaluations of Web-based news outlets and create a list of accreditation.
The newly formed entity will be known as "NASCAR Citizen Journalist Media Corps."
This opportunity will have a profound effect on Bleacher Report and the hard-working writers of the NASCAR community.
Each race track has their own way of issuing credentials. Addition to this list will not guarantee acceptance of credentials at every venue.
Once a credential is secured, and representatives of those tracks see the hard work, professionalism, and dedication of our Bleacher Report representative, future credentials should be much easier to obtain.
Acceptance early on will be difficult. Print media outlets do not see Web-based "dot comers" as legitimate journalists. Hacks, bloggers, and copycats are just a few of the more popular descriptions.
Once again, representatives of Bleacher Report, through hard work and dedication, will change this mindset.
Now I would like to turn your attention to the syllabus. We will cover the following points.
- Inside the fence
- Where do I sit?
- Gathering Information
- Press conferences
- DO NOT’S
Once everything is in place (this should take a few weeks), I will be handling all future requests.
Aron Glatzer, content delivery manager for Bleacher Report, has asked that each request be evaluated on a case by case basis, and that he be kept in the loop for each request.
Once the request has been approved, I will then submit the proper forms to the venue.
Not everyone will be able to go to every race. Submission does not mean acceptance. It is totally up to the venue.
Request can be made to email@example.com.
It takes a massive amount of manpower and time to make a race come together.
If you have an idea you want to attend a race, keep in mind you must apply for a credential as much as six weeks in advance.
Most tracks have deadlines, usually four weeks prior to the event. If this deadline has passed, it is almost impossible to get consideration.
Notification of acceptance is usually done via e-mail, and on some occasions via snail mail.
Notifications are usually provided at least one to two weeks prior to the event, depending on the venue and mode used.
A media credential can consist of several different items, depending again on the venue.
The standard credentials are a garage pass, (usually a hot pass) media center access, parking pass, and maybe a separate media pass.
You might be lucky and get a victory lane sticker or a press box access. These are all specific to the different tracks.
These passes must be kept on your person at all times. They are your ticket to access the most secure areas of the race track.
Security personnel are trained to check these passes at all times, and on occasion may ask you to provide some type of I.D. to validate.
Credentials should be picked up prior to entering the track, at the credential office. Proper I.D. is required.
Proper attire at any event is a must. The garage area is extremely strict about proper attire.
What is not proper is: tank tops, open toed shoes, shorts, muscle shirts, offensive graphics.
While shorts are not acceptable, Capri pants are, at most tracks.
If you are there as a photographer, and are issued a photo vest, you must wear that vest at all times.
Inside the Fence
Race tracks for the most part can be broken down into two parts: outside the fence and inside the fence.
The fence is usually the security zone that separates the fans from the working area of NASCAR.
Outside the fence is a non-stop party. Inside the fence is where we work. It is strictly business.
Media representatives are inside the fence. It’s work, hard work, non-stop for hours and hours at a time.
Where Do I Sit?
Most media centers have rows of tables and chairs for the media. All of them have some type of Internet access, either by wire or wireless.
If you are an invited member of the media, there should be an assigned seat waiting for you. This is usually indicated by a welcome card placed at that space.
If you do not have an assigned seat, which is not that uncommon, find an empty, unassigned seat, and locate yourself there.
It is wise to then tape a business card at that position so others will know you are occupying that space. Everyone I have ever encountered has respected this type of notification.
Media centers contain a vast amount of information. Each center has a wall that contains driver news, race news, manufacture news, qualifying orders, speed charts, and a host of other informative areas.
This is the holy grail of information. There are hundreds of stories hidden among those pages.
Each media center has some type of board or sign that announces times of media events. This is where you can find times for driver’s press conferences, news events taking place at the track, and even lunch or dinner time.
All drivers do not visit the media center each week. They will however hold a press conference at their hauler. A sheet is usually printed out with all the times of these media gatherings.
Do, above all, have a good time.
Do the best job you can.
Do be a professional at all times.
Do respect the other members of the media.
Do abide by any security personnel request. They are there for our protection.
Do make the most of this opportunity.
Do keep your fellow creatures informed.
Do, as we know you will, make us proud.
Do not ever ask for an autograph.
Do not ever go into a restricted area.
Do not ever approach a driver unless you have made prior arrangements through the proper channels.
Do not turn your cell phone on during press conferences or media events.
Do not do anything that you are not 100 percent sure you should be doing.
Do not, above all, forget that you are an invited guest of the track, and that your actions could have negative effects on future events.
The following are, as they say, suggestions:
Arrive early so you can beat the traffic and not feel rushed.
During press interviews, always yield to the major news outlets first. If you have a question you want to ask, be ready when it is your turn.
When it is your turn, clearly, state your name, media outlet, and then your question. Always say, "Thank you."
Read the printed material. Look for the hidden stories of the weekend, or the future story you may see brewing.
Bring a laptop and notepads. Usually, there are notepads provided by the track or Sprint at each race. They go fast, so be prepared.
You may feel overwhelmed with information and try to get every story. It won’t happen. The best way, in my opinion only, is one of two things: Write short snippets, like I do, or write one full story at the end of the day.
Keep in mind, there will always be another story, and they can be written post race also.
Well, ladies and gentlemen, this concludes our class on credentialing. You now have the basic skills needed to go forth and cover your first race.
If anyone has any suggestions, comments or questions, please feel free to contact me, or your current community leaders.
Note: While this article is educational in nature, it contains information gathered by the author during his 12 years covering NASCAR.
It is in no way meant to imply NASCAR’s rules or policies, or any of NASCAR’s race tracks rules or policies.