Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Media Members Prepare For Race

Special event slated at All American Speedway
by Kevin W. Green

Bob Moffitt (in car) chats with Brian Hickey (center) and Mark S. Allen during
their initial training session for the upcoming race for members of the media at
All American Speedwayin Roseville, Calif. (Doug Day)

Media celebrities from the Sacramento, Calif., market will get a completely new perspective on racing in an upcoming event at All American Speedway. Instead of reporting about the race, members of the media will be behind the wheel of a stock car, competing in the special media event on the third-mile oval in Roseville, Calif.

The 20-lap race, known as the A-ALL Mini Storage Media Blitz 100 brought to you by Comcast, will be a preliminary event on a big night of racing at the historic fairgrounds facility that culminates with the final race of the season for the NASCAR Camping World Series West – the Toyota/Copart 150.

Bill McAnally – whose company, BMRP, promotes the NASCAR Camping World Series West events at Roseville, along with several other series races during the season – came up with the idea for the media event.

“It’s always been fun working with the local media,” McAnally said. “They have always shown a lot of interest in NASCAR racing. So, we’re going to give them an opportunity to get involved and get into a NASCAR race car for a race. We’re really looking forward to it. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Television and radio personalities from the greater Sacramento area have already begun preparing for the race. They are undergoing two training sessions and will also get time on the track during a practice session the night before their big event. The $1,000 winner’s purse will be donated to the charity of their choice.

For news reporter Brian Hickey of NBC’s Sacramento television affiliate, KCRA Channel 3, the event holds plenty special meaning.

“This is a dream come true,” Hickey said. “Racing was in my blood and family even before I was born. My Dad, Tom "Tricky" Hickey, used to drive race cars and still talks about his career like it was yesterday. To get behind the wheel of a Bill McAnally race car is just incredible. This opportunity has ignited the need for speed in my whole family and I just can't wait to see, hear, and feel the rumble of NASCAR beneath my seat. I'm living the dream and having a great time sharing it with my Dad.”

In addition to Hickey, other members of the media preparing to get behind the wheel include Dave Bender, the evening weather anchor on CBS television affiliate KOVR Channel 13; Mark Demsky, sportscaster on FOX television affiliate KTXL Channel 40; Mark S. Allen, co-host for the Good Day Sacramento television show; Dave Kelly, morning show co-host on 101.9 The Wolf radio station; and Bob Moffitt, radio reporter on NewsTalk 1530 KFBK.

Several other members of the media, meanwhile, will join in the action as passengers in several of the cars that are outfitted as two-seater race cars. Natalie Bomke, television morning anchor on Channel 40 will ride with Mark Demsky; Brandi Hitt, television news anchor and reporter on Channel 13 will ride Dave Bender; and Susan Brown will ride with Dave Kelly, her co-host of the morning show on 101.9 The Wolf.

While some of them have been interested in racing for years, others are newcomers to the sport.

Mark Demsky has an extensive background of covering racing as a broadcaster and has been on track in school cars.

“I've covered NASCAR and the Indy Car Series for nearly 20 years,” said Demsky, who hosts a weekly auto racing show on Sports 1140 Radio, KHTK in Sacramento. “I've gone through the Richard Petty Driving Experience in Las Vegas, and have done a portion of the Jim Russell Racing School over in Sonoma. This will be my first actual race though.”

Dave Bender brings with him a similar background.

“I usually go at least once a year to a NASCAR race with my dad,” he said. “We've been to the Brickyard, ORP, Charlotte, Altlanta, Texas Motor Speedway, Phoenix, and Sonoma. I've also had eight hot laps in a Richard Petty Driving Experience NASCAR at Fontana. We hit about 155mph. I just love this stuff. This is a chance of a lifetime to see what it's like to trade some paint.”

Bender’s passenger for the event, Brandi Hitt, is fairly new to the sport, meanwhile.

“I have no auto racing background, but I did pass my driving test the first time,” she said. “When you think about it, I also crashed my first car in Lodi when I was 16.”

Nevertheless, she is looking forward to the upcoming event. “This is so exciting,” she said. “I want to burn rubber and leave those other news crews in the dust – all for charity, of course.”

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