Adrian's Journal: On Daytona, Danica, local talent revs up NASCAR | Sports & Recreation
SALISBURY - Adrian Parker was drinking hotel coffee and enjoying the 70 degree weather before 8am Thursday morning in Daytona.
Parker, a former football player at South Rowan High School, PR representative for several NASCAR drivers, including Matt Kenseth, handles public and media relations for Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord.
Parker is in Daytona for the Daytona 500, and to do business on behalf of CMS.
Parker isn't the only local connection. Salisbury's Doug Rice, head of the Performance Racing Network, is in Daytona, as well as Mooresville's Harrill Hamrick, who is the chief engineer for PRN. Hamrick is the son of local radio legend Glenn Hamrick at WHIP. Kent Bernhardt is also a familiar voice on PRN and the host of the Salisbury's Morning News on WSTP.
On Thursday morning Parker called in to WSTP to talk to Bernhardt about the anticipation this week at Daytona, and for the 2012 NASCAR season.
"The Daytona 500 is the kick off for the year," Parker said. "It's a great place to get a lot of business done and a great way to kick off a season."
Parker predicted a more competitive 500, with an absence of the two car draft that was seen last year.
"It's the end of the tandem draft. The two cars hooking up and just going off in the sunset. Pack racing is back, but with that comes the danger of multi car accidents, we saw that on Saturday," said Parker.
Parker also said he think 2012 could be a very good year for a sport that has seen some tough times in recent years. Declining TV ratings and low attendance at some venues hurt the sport in 2009 and 2010.
"2011 was a great year for NASCAR," Parker observed. "Compared to the previous years, last year it started to level off. Television ratings were significantly up, and Saturday was a nice way to start."
An example, Parker said, was the crowd that turned out at the Volusia Mall in Daytona Wednesday night for a live PRN broadcast. Several top drivers attended, including Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Carl Edwards, Tony Stewart, and Sprint Cup rookie Danica Patrick.
"I think she'll be fine, contrary to what some say," Parker said. "And that was the biggest crowd I've ever seen and I've been going to that thing for 11 years now" Parker said.
Parker is also predicting a good year at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He says the track is making the extra effort to offer more for fans in terms of events and value. The first action on the famed mile and half track takes place next week when cars roll in for open testing.
"There are 20 events this year that are free to kids age 13 and under. That includes races at zMAX Dragway, Food Lion Auto Fairs, and Nationwide races," Parker said.