MRN Announcer Spotlight: Dan Hubbard
By: Jeff Wackerlin - @JWackerlin Twitter and Instagram | MRN.com on July 16, 2014 | 8:15 A.M. EST
Dan Hubbard is a turn and booth announcer for MRN.
Get to know Dan Hubbard - Turn/Booth Announcer - in this week's edition of MRN Announcer Spotlight.
Q: How did you become interested in broadcasting?
Hubbard: I was kind of broke and saw a flyer to take broadcasting lessons at the local community college in Orange County, California - Fullerton Community College. I took a couple radio and TV classes, and found out I was good at it. I said, "Well ... I can probably make a living doing this. Since I can’t be a racecar driver, maybe I can at least be a radio broadcaster."
Q: How did you become involved with the Motor Racing Network?
Hubbard: I got a non-paying gig to be the PA announcer for the SCCA at the old Riverside Raceway. The lead announcer there - Mark Helmer - sent a demo reel to MRN because he really wanted a job with the Motor Racing Network. I didn’t even think about, although I listened to MRN almost my whole life. They called him back and said, "We appreciate your interest in the Motor Racing network, but who is the kid at Turn 6?" So he called me like someone had shot his dog and said they want you to call John McMullen. So I did and the rest is history. Here I am over 20 years later.
Q: Were the SCCA events your first time announcing racing events?
Hubbard: Yeah, I guess in a sense ... the first time I had ever grabbed a microphone and talked about racing, that’s for sure. Riverside was a great track. Anybody who raced there just loved it. It was a ball for the Cup drivers at that time and it always just provided great racing. It was an excellent training ground for me to be in the legendary Turn 6 and talk about all different types of sports cars racing through there. I was in the right place at the right time.
Q: What are some of the things you remember about your first race with the Motor Racing Network?
Hubbard: I stood on top of corrugated steel outside of Turn 4 in the original configuration of Darlington Raceway. What is most memorable about my first race is that I met Bill France Sr. and that was an honor. And then David Hyatt, who was not the president of the Network back then. He was, more or less, a "go-fer" - instructed by McMullen to get me to the airport ASAP because the race went a little long. We had one of the most epic drives through the state of South and North Carolina as he tried to get me to the Charlotte airport, but we came up 20 minutes short. David really gave that Mercury Cougar a ride in the rain from the track to Charlotte in record time, but we still didn’t make my flight. That was a great ride and my first meeting with David.
Q: You live in California. Where did you grow up there?
Hubbard: Grew up in Orange County, in and around Disneyland my whole life. I even worked at Disneyland as a dishwasher one summer when I was 18 and just out of high school. I did it because you got to go back into Disneyland at night for free because you were an employee. That was a nice little gig for one summer.
Q: What are some of your early memories of NASCAR, growing up in California?
Hubbard: A lot of my NASCAR experience was on television and a lot of times, it was tape-delayed by ABC's Wide World of Sports. I would wait for that show. As time went on, they started coming out to Riverside twice a year and then Ontario Motor Speedway was built. I used to go to those races, too. My favorite drivers were Richard Petty, Bobby Allison, Cale Yarborough and David Pearson. These are the guys I grew up on. When I started announcing, it was Terry Labonte, Ricky Rudd and then Jeff Gordon when he was just getting his start in NASCAR.
Q: You mentioned Ontario Motor Speedway. What was the first race you attended there as a fan?
Hubbard: It was a promotional deal pitting Formula 5000 cars against Formula One cars. Formula 5000 drivers like Al Unser and Mario (Andretti) against Formula 1 drivers like Jackie Stewart and others of his era. It was kind of a silly deal because the Formula One cars at that time were far superior. But it was a way to sell tickets, I guess, and enjoy road racing at Ontario Motor Speedway. They also used to have Porsche time trials with the Porsche Club of America. That was free and a lot of fun because you got to see a lot of Porsches, including the 917 that Steve McQueen drove in the movie "Le Mans."
Q: Outside of motor sports, what are some of your hobbies?
Hubbard: I’m an avid tennis player and into photography, too. I’m probably a bit of a camera freak and spend too much money there. I do enjoy an excellent shot. It's a frozen moment in time and it’s something that will last forever. I love looking at old photos and maybe some of my photos will be looked at decades from now.
Q: What are some of your favorite photos you've taken?
Hubbard: I got some nice sunsets in Hawaii. I’m still early in my photographic career. I need to get better. But I’ve also got some stuff from the Busch Series races in Mexico - garage area shots, drivers consulting with crew chiefs, stuff like that. Maybe someone will be looking at them a decade from now and say, "I remember those races in Mexico."
Q: What is your favorite restaurant on the NASCAR schedule?
Hubbard: Without question, there’s a restaurant in Dallas when we go to Texas Motor Speedway. It's called Texas de Brazil. It’s all-you-can-eat and they just bring you every kind of meat known to man - chicken, lamb, steak. They bring it on skewers and pour it onto your plate, as much as you can handle.
Be sure to check back every Wednesday for the latest MRN Announcer Spotlight.
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