NASCAR Summit Kicks Off 2017 Season

CONCORD, N.C. – From a competition standpoint, the Feb. 18 Clash at Daytona International Speedway will mark the beginning of the 2017 NASCAR season.

From the standpoint of those who work behind the scenes to achieve the seamless presentation of racing events at a host of different venues, the season has already begun.

And it’s fitting that the annual NASCAR Summit presented by AMR, which concluded on Tuesday at the Embassy Suites, is both a learning opportunity for and a recognition of those who are the first to arrive at the track during a race week—and the last to leave.

“I always enjoy addressing this crowd, which gets bigger every year in attendance,” said NASCAR Vice Chairman Mike Helton in prefacing a series of awards given to track services, security and medical personnel representing speedways on the NASCAR schedule. “And that’s a good thing, because it means our sport is continuing to grow, and we’ve got people coming on board who make sure that we do things right. ...

“In order for NASCAR to do what it does, it has to have a heart and soul of people who are of the character that run toward a situation instead of away from it. And there’s nobody in our organization as significant as the group that is in here today for this summit.”

Track, medical and security personnel from the United States and beyond packed the large hall in the Convention Center wing of the Embassy Suites. Throughout the three-day summit, they shared ideas about issues essential to the smooth, safe and secure conduct of a racing event.

Attendees discussed everything from hauler construction, track-drying procedures and equipment, new fiber optic networks designed to carry broadcast signals, medical practices and ways to make fans more safe and secure while attending NASCAR events.

“The NASCAR Summit kicks off our season,” said John Bobo, NASCAR’s managing director of racing operations. “It really shows our concern for the safety of the events. It sets the tone for the season.

“It’s really unique in sports in that we come together as an entire industry. We have our folks from the tracks here. We have folks from all over the country. We have folks internationally as well.”

One of the points of emphasis is to make sure attendees are aware of changes that are occurring between seasons, whether that involves procedures or race car design.

“We always have some changes year to year that may be small,” Bobo said. “Some may be big. One of the things we’ll do is we’ll look at: Are there any changes in the vehicle? And are our safety people aware of those changes?

“Will they know how to do an extraction of a driver based on changes to the vehicle? Are there any changes on race procedures that we need to be aware of and how that’s going to impact folks? Are there other policies that are new and in place that we all need to be aware of?”

Moreover, the summit builds a sense of cohesiveness among those working for a common goal.

“I think you’ll leave here with two things—hopefully, a just a great sense of passion for the sport, and also a sense of fun. Putting these events on and working together is a lot of fun. We think about and worry about things out there we don’t want fans to think about and worry about.

“And certainly we think about the worst-case scenarios and what we need to do to be ready for that. If those things happen, we’re ready. We all want to go to the race track like everybody else and have a great time.”

On Tuesday afternoon, the following award winners were recognized:

Track Services Mission Award—Daytona International Speedway.

Track Services Teamwork Award—Kentucky Speedway.

Track Services Innovation Award—Pocono Raceway.

Excellence in Track Services Award—Jay Donnay, Homestead-Miami Speedway.

NASCAR Security Award—George Brazzale, Las Vegas Motor Speedway; Jim Hosfelt, Dover International Speedway.

Above and Beyond Medical Award—Dr. Angela Fiege, Indianapolis; Dr. John Maino and Dr. Brian Nao, Michigan International Speedway.

Nursing Director Award—Jackie Coats, Watkins Glen International.

Team Work Medical Award—Darlington Raceway; Bristol Motor Speedway.

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