Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Follow up with PR Intern Stephanie

It’s been five weeks since I’ve started working at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis as the PR Intern. After the first event, the Thursday Night Thunder, I was so pleased with how well everything was going and how much I loved what I was doing. I also had a feeling that after being thrown into singing the National Anthem during that event I was prepared for anything the track staff could throw at me. But of course….. I should have known better.

The next event on the schedule was the Night Before the 500. The week before the event I did a lot of detail work. I designed the program and got things ready in the media center. I also was given the freedom to leave the safety of my trusted mentor and adventure inside the track to do my first solo interview.

Apparently, Scott thought there was a USAC team testing so I wouldn’t be to out of my element. But to my surprise I was faced with a very unfamiliar car. That evening a man named Rodin Younessicar was trying to perfect his skills of only turning left in his # 16 USF 2000 machine. When I approached him to get a short video interview I think he was just as surprised to hear me ask if I could interview him as I was to seeing him. Since I knew nothing about him or the USF 2000 series I decided the best way to get the information I needed was to just have him talk about himself. Thankfully he did a fabulous job and I was able to walk away without being embarrassed.

You can view this video at

The following week I was only in the office on Monday and Tuesday. I was able to practice my interview skills with Dalton and Dakota Armstrong and Alex Bowman on those days. Then the rest of the week I was stationed at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) selling discounted tickets for the Night Before the 500.

Armstrong and Bowman interview:

Finally, on Saturday I came into work for the Night Before the 500 race and once again felt at home with all the USAC people around me. The night was filled with exciting races. I loved being able to talk racing with the fans, go out and capture all the action on my camera, and meet and hear how excited the drivers were after their big win!

Following this event I was in SpeedFest mode while at the office. I was emailing drivers PR reps and making passes to send out to NASCAR. One day I had to cut 1,105 pieces of paper in half with scissors!! Talk about a HUGE blister the next day. Even though my boss was slowly killing me I was still having a great time.

The next event was the Champion Racing Association (CRA) race on June 12. This event I was no stranger to the series because I see them almost every weekend when I drive my front wheel drive (fwd). I was once again going where no intern at Lucas Oil Raceway has gone before and that was behind a wheel on the track. I had never raced there before and was slightly intimidated by the track. Not only would everyone who was working know me but this is a very large and flat track.

Race day I was ready to bring the heat and hopefully end the day with a solid finish. In practice my car had a mind of its own and just wanted to push up the track. After a few laps my confidence was boosting but it must have gone up to much because I spun out in the middle of three and four. I didn’t hit anything and when I came in my grandfather, Tom Bigelow, reassured me that I was doing great and said the only way to know I had pushed the car to its limit was to spin out.

During that practice I was running 11th out of 18 cars. Not as fast as I wanted to be so I decided we needed to make some changes. Unfortunately, the changes we made to the car made it handle a lot worse and I had to switch back the changes and start the race at the rear of the field.

My race was the first race of the afternoon and I was asked to sing the National Anthem once again. In order to make this happen I had to drive my car on the track, sing in my uniform, and then jump into my car and get buckled in as quickly as possible. Once all the pre race ceremonies concluded and I was in my car my focus and determination level was shooting through my roof. On the pace laps I felt out my car and I knew that I would be able to pass a decent amount of the cars in front of me.

Once the green flag dropped I was off. I passed one car that was spinning out to my inside and was charging to catch the next. Sadly, that car was also going to spin out right in front of me and with my car pushing as bad as it was I was unable to drop low to miss it. I ended up hitting the wall with my right front and broke the lower a-arm. I was done for the day L .

Even though I was given a hard time at work the next day and told I would be repainting the inside wall I think the staff thought it was pretty cool to see me out on the track. I now have a better understanding of the track and I’m able to tell people that turn one and two take FOREVER to get around and three and four are a lot sharper. You need to enter one right above the second lane mark and let your car drift up the track and angle it to shoot out of two. Enter three a litter higher then one and just hang on.

Thankfully, I will be able to redeem myself on October 1st when CRA returns to Lucas Oil Raceway.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Meet Stephanie Bigelow the 2011 PR Intern

Hello everyone! My name is Stephanie Bigelow, I am from Winchester, IN, and I can literally say I was raised in a race shop. I sometimes wonder how my dad was able to keep me in one piece and get his car race ready for the coming weekend. I suppose I should just be thankful I am alive. I remember when I would want some attention I would ask my dad what I could do to help and then when there was nothing I would complain about being bored. Now, being 21 and almost through college I can’t believe I uttered those words! Back then, going to the racetrack meant long hot days and long trips in the back of a truck. I knew I would always hold onto those days but I never thought I would be molding my career around them.

Currently, I am a student at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) studying Sport Management with a certificate in Motorsports Studies. I am gearing my degree towards motorsports and hopefully one day I will manage a racing facility. I have been racing myself for almost 3 years now. I run with the Champion Racing Association (CRA) in their Front Wheel Drive division. I love being able to experience the sport from behind the wheel. The adrenalin rush is like a drug. I say that because I literally go through withdraws during the winter months. So, to keep myself “high on racing” I am going to school to guarantee I will never lose my mind, “WINNING”.

Having a grandpa like Tom Bigelow, a nine time Indy 500 competitor and USAC Champion, has also helped me learn all about the racing community. He and my dad Alan have mentored me in my own racing and introduced me to many racing legends. This was proved to my boss, Scott Smith, at Lucas Oil Raceway during my first week as the public relations intern. During the first Thursday Night Thunder event we were both in the media center and I was able to carry on conversations with almost everyone because they personally knew me or my family. Scott must have thought it was pretty impressive because he made the sarcastic comment that this event was like my homecoming.

Being able to work at Lucas Oil Raceway will launch my racing career. Here, I will gain real life experience by working on projects that are directly related to what I want to do later in life.

My first week here has been way too much fun to be considered work. I have been working on driver bio’s to put in the program for the week of Speedfest as well as a section that will consist of random facts about the NASCAR Nationwide Series at Lucas Oil Raceway. During the Thursday Night Thunder event I was able to walk around and take pictures of the sprint cars being unloaded and set up. As well as update Facebook and Twitter with all that was going on at the track.

One thing I got to do that was not in the job objective was singing the National Anthem that evening. I was suppose to sing one time last year but was unable to due to an unexpected appendectomy. So when the singer for the Thursday Night Thunder event cancelled Wes Collier, the GM here at Lucas Oil Raceway, asked if I would do it. Knowing I couldn’t say no to the head honcho I swallowed my nerves and prayed my kidneys wouldn’t explode like my appendix did the year before. Thankfully everything went well.

The following night was the first Friday Night Rage event on the drag strip. Drag racing is so foreign to me but I learned a lot that night. I was able to just sit back and take it all in for awhile and then I headed out to capture pictures. The cool thing about drag racing is your ticket gives you access to everything unlike oval racing where your pit pass costs extra. It was really interesting being able to watch the crowd mingle right next to the cars that where competing. Also to make that night more unique Drift Indy was competing. Drifting is almost like an art form. Those guys are so proud of their rides and what they can make them do.

Overall the first week was better then I expected. It wasn’t until Saturday night when I got home that I noticed how sore my feet were from walking and my checks were from smiling. I am looking forward to reflecting on every week so I can follow how much I grow.

For more pictures be sure to check out the Lucas Oil Raceway Facebook page at:!/pages/Lucas-Oil-Raceway/172773642764282

For a schedule of events go to:

We also have a Twitter as I mentioned! Follow our tweets at:!/LucasOilRaceway

Friday, April 15, 2011

Now what should I bring with me????

For me, one of the biggest challenges in going to an event or facility for the first time is knowing what I’m allowed to bring. Below are some helpful hints and tips on what to bring and what to make your visit to Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis more enjoyable. If you see ‘a must have’ we missed or have a question about feel free to drop us a note!

Parking information - Enter the facility off of U. S. Highway 136 and you will be directed to our parking lots. For most events parking in the facility parking lots is the shortest walk to your seats.

Facility Map – Be sure to download a facility map for your visit to the facility. Click here for maps for the different events.

Comfortable shoes – Many events involve walking from the parking lots to your seating section so wear comfortable shoes to get to the grandstands.

Sunscreen – Protect yourself from the summer rays!

Blanket – If you are taking in an oval race on the world famous Grass Hill in Turn 1 be sure to bring a blanket to spread it out and sit on it during the event.

Bag chair - If you are taking in an oval race on the world famous Grass Hill in Turn 1 be sure to bring a bag chair to sit on during the event. Please note you can’t bring a chair into the reserved seating area or any of the grandstands.

Earplugs – Protect your hearing during the event.

Radio Scanner – For many events you can listen to the drivers as they communicate with their crew members

Cooler – Cooler size is 14x14x14, no glass bottles are allowed.

Food – You are able to bring in food and snacks with you into the events.

Cash – While there are ATM’s for many events it is a good idea to have cash for purchases.

Cell phone – There are no pay phones at the facility so be sure to bring your cell phone.

Sweatshirts – Temperatures cool off quickly when the sun goes down so be sure to bring an extra layer of clothes to ward off a chill.

ChapStick – Being in the sun and wind can take a toll on your lips so be sure to bring a tube of ChapStick.

Sharpie and autograph book – For many events there is an autograph session that takes place prior to the race so be sure to bring a sharpie and autograph book to get autographs from your favorite drivers.

We hope this helps your planning and we can't wait to see you during the course of the season!

Friday, March 25, 2011

5 Minutes with Kurt Johnson, racing and operations director at Lucas Oil Raceway.

During the course of the year we will be talking with key figures with Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis and learning more about the facility and previewing upcoming events. In this installment of ‘5 Minutes With…’ we caught up with Kurt Johnson, director of racing and operations. Kurt is starting his first full season at the track and is ready for the start of the season.

How much time has gone into getting things ready for the start of the season?
Roughly 100 hours a week since the end of the 2010 season. About 80 to 100 hours a week.

What all goes into that?
We basically created all new run procedures for the Summit Bracket Racing Series, we created the Friday Night Rage program, the Thursday Night Thunder program. We’ve never had run procedures and now we have a 26 page book created and there is a lot of work that goes into it.

What will ensure a great 2011 season?
It is a combination of working with the racers, having good communication with the racers having a good relationship with them and the fact that I was a racer. A lot of this is years of sitting on the back of the trailer after the races going, ‘I wish we did it like this.’ It is pure communication. We are trying to do what the racers want but do it in a way that is fair to everybody. We can’t please everyone all the time but we hope to please the majority.

What has been the feedback from the racers so far?
So far it is been nothing but good. The dragstrip track surface rocked at the end of the year. It was really good and I think the racers are happy with that. I think they feel good that there are people listening here and I’m talking about the entire staff that is willing to listen and try to treat them with respect and there again you can’t always make them happy but if you are fair and you treat everybody the same then it is an overall win.

You just finished the starting line project on the dragstrip. Where does that stand now?
We are going start putting rubber on it on Tuesday the pad came out wonderful E & B Paving did a wonderful job. They stuck behind their word that they said they would give us a super flat surface and they did. I have nothing but good to say about E & B Paving. We went out and hand measured it with Lanny from John Force Racing and had all kinds of fancy equipment out there over the week with lasers, and GPS sensors and it came down to a string line and a machined gauge and the track wasn’t off anywhere above 125,000ths on the new starting line. So it falls well with specs for super flat surface.

Is that going to be a huge improvement?
Huge. One of the main problems we always had was there was a bump in the right lane right before where a majority of the rears wheels sit. And so as soon as the car would come off the line it would upset the suspension and it follows Newton’s Law that once an object is in motion it to stays in motion. It would bounce and basketball out 300 feet or so and would tear the rubber off the track. We will have a much better racing surface on down the track because of that.

What else has taken place this off season?
We put some new asphalt in the main pits, the Pro Pits and have new equipment to sweep the parking lot. So we will be able to keep the parking lot clean. One of the major factors of a good track is having a clean racetrack. The more we can keep the cars in a clean area and have them come to the race track in a clean area we can keep the debris off the track. For the majority of the events we will be parking on the East side of the track and not on the grass on the west side because the grass gets on the track from the west side.

What has been the feedback on the Thursday Night Thunder Series?
We have gotten nothing but good on that and one of the gauges I can use for how popular the series is going to be is how many teams comes to test. We are almost completely booked for the month of May and then June is heavy for testing as well and I see it going into August as well. The teams are excited and I’m not talking about local teams. There are teams in California that are coming out to test and to me that says it is a popular item. I think it will be a home run.

What is one main goal this season?
The main thing is to reintroduce Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis back to the racing population. I think a lot of people forgot the facility. I think offering different promotions, high profile programs and keeping the facility the best we can, will get the trust of the racer again. I think by getting the track better for the racers we will get the racecars here and then we can concentrate on getting spectators to come watch the racecars and gain the trust in the racing community.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Meetings, Meetings and Meetings

Welcome to this installment of In The Groove with Lucas Oil Raceway and we hope your 2011 preparations for the coming season are going well. We at Lucas Oil Raceway are also preparing for the upcoming season and with that comes many hours of meetings and getting together to talk about what is on tap for the rapidly approaching season.

This week the staff of Lucas Oil Raceway has been meeting with the racers in the Summit Racing Equipment ET Bracket Racing Series and getting feedback on what they would like to see from us for the upcoming season. In two meetings, with the final one coming tonight, there has been some great conversation with a great flow of information from the drivers and from our staff to them. The racers at Lucas Oil Raceway are the backbone of the track and are most valuable form of advertising as word of mouth is more effective than any commercial could ever be. While some think of meetings as boring there has been tremendous energy in these meeetings and has been a great way for racers to see each other and catch up o the off season news. We hope that they see the changes being made are for the betterment of the program and that they are able to reap the rewards during the course of the season.

One great program that is being offered by one of our Lucas Oil Raceway racers is the 'free money' program being offered by Sullivan's Tire located here in Hendricks County. The offer is simple: When you purchase $300.00 of trailer tires or any equal service just ask for a Sullivan;s decal and place it on your car. If your car has the sticker on it when you win a race your free money will be $100 for Super Pro, $50 for Pro, $30 for Street and $20 for Junior Dragster. This is a great way racers are giving back to the program and f you have any questions call Craig at 317-272-5050.

That is all for this edition of In the Groove with Lucas Oil Raceway as I'm off to another meeting! Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Lucas Oil Raceway, new name for a classic facility

Greetings! Happy New Year from In the Groove with Lucas Oil Raceway from the newly renamed Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis which last week entered into a new naming rights agreement with Lucas Oil Products. We are very excited about the new partnership and are looking forward to working with the gang from Lucas Oil.

We also want to thank all of those that helped with the press conference at the AARWBA dinner last Sunday. Check out the guys from Frameworks Marketing Group working to get our logo printed to be used at the Press Conference.

Also thanks to the gang from AARWBA for hosting our press conference and Forrest Lucas for attending the event and the unveiling of the new Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis Logo.

For readers of In the Groove with Lucas Oil Raceway we hope you can join us this weekend at the Cabin Fever Racers Trade Show and Swap Meet taking place at the Kokomo Event Center this Friday and Saturday. Information on the event can be found on their web page.

Also if you are a bracket racer be sure to join us for preseason meetings taking place next week at Eaton Hall at the Brownsburg Town Hall. More information can be found here.

We hope you have a great week and please stop by to say hello if you come to the trade show!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Welcome to the renewal of In The Groove

Like a phoenix rising from the ashes or for this crowd like the return of a Top Fuel dragster after a full engine rebuild, the In The Groove blog has returned. In the coming months and during the course of the 2011 season we hope that you check back often as we want to use In the Groove as a behind the scenes look into the season and many of the events at O’Reilly Raceway Park. We are busily preparing for the coming season and many new items are in the works for the coming year. In case you missed some of the recent announcements they are:

ARCA Returns to O’Reilly Raceway Park during the course of Kroger SpeedFest on July 28th. The night will be called the Thursday Night Triple Header and will feature USAC Midget and Silver Crown Series along with ARCA during the night. This marks the first time ARCA has raced during the same night as the Midgets and Silver Crown. This is also the first time ARCA comes to the track since the mid-80s. Nine-time ARCA Champion Frank Kimmel hasn’t had the chance to race at O’Reilly Raceway Park in his career and was champing at the bit at the press conference and said he couldn’t wait to take to the track.

Also filling out the oval schedule will be the return of USAC Thursday Night Thunder featuring the USAC Sprint Car series at O’Reilly Raceway Park. From May through October the future stars of racing will be putting their best foot under the summer lights. Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman all used USAC to further their racing career at O’Reilly Raceway Raceway.

The drag strip will see a fair share of new events including Friday Nite Rage a thrilling series of events dedicated to heads up door slammer racing. There is already a tremendous ammount of buzz regarding these events and they will be short on rules but long on excitement and thrilling racing.

The 2011 O’Reilly Raceway Park schedule will be announced soon and new for the season will be a downloadable version of the calendar in a .CSV file or iCal for Apple users. This will allow you to download the full calendar directly into your calendar and give you direct access to all the information about the season.

During the course of the year we plan on using In the Groove as a resource for our fans and will have guest bloggers, rules information, driver profiles, tail gaiting tips, recipes and much more on the page.

We hope you have a Happy Holiday season and we will be talking at you in January.