BY SCOTT MORGANROTH
There are a lot of things on my “Never List” but in recent weeks since I’ve been dealing with Russell Branham, who is the Director of Communications for the Talladega Superspeedway, Homestead-Miami Speedway and Daytona International Raceway, this guy has added to this list immensely.
During my pre-race coverage of the Dixie-Vodka 400, Branham asked me if I wanted to drive on the Homestead-Miami Speedway?
I laughed at him and asked if he was serious.
He turned his head in a very kind tone and said “YES”.
All he told me to do was take a class for an hour and then go on the track and work with my instructor.
I couldn’t get in my fire suit fast enough!
I’ve dealt with a lot of Public Relations Directors in the past, there are certain ones you know you connect with. Branham is one of those guys.
My photographer Candy Ebling and I took a last minute trip to Talladega, Alabama and we spent a race weekend at a track that was always a bucket list of mine, and her first NASCAR Experience.
Ebling had covered IMSA Road Courses at the famed Sebring Raceway, but nothing like this.
At Talladega, since I haven’t covered NASCAR in years, I got familiar with the post Covid-19 Access. Branham scheduled media Press Conferences and among those was Auburn University Men’s Basketball Coach Bruce Pearl. I felt an instant connection with Pearl and I look forward to the day that I can have more time to talk to him.
Branham did a great job setting up an interview with Homestead-Miami Speedway President Al Garcia.
With that said, during race week, he asked me if I wanted a one-on-one interview with race care driver Aric Almirola, who was retiring at the end of the season?
Once again, the answer was yes and we recorded the interview on Zoom and posted it to the South Florida Tribune You Tube Channel.
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But the Never List Continued on Race Day, October 23, 2022.
By now, Branham knew that I wasn’t afraid to ask tough questions and expected me to do just that during the Pre-Race Press Conference.
It was a pleasure getting to know world champion drag racer Darrell Gwynn.
There was a neat presentation as you’re going to see in the video of him presenting a fan a motor scooter.
Despite covering the Detroit Pistons my entire media career, I have a tremendous amount of admiration for the Miami Heat. These two teams have faced each other in the NBA Playoffs and have always had a great rivalry.
On this day, Miami Heat Captain and three-time NBA Champion Udonis Haslem, one of the most respected and beloved players, served as an “Honorary Race Official” and has played his entire 20-year career with his hometown Heat. Amazingly enough, he went undrafted in the 2002 draft which shows that hidden gems can come from anywhere.
He’s truly one of the nicest NBA players that I’ve ever met!
His video is in this story. Check it out,.
Prior to this race, I’ve never interviewed an national anthem singer. That changed when I had the opportunity to ask multiple questions to singer/songwriter Adassa. We spoke afterwards and she’s truly an amazing woman!
I enjoyed getting photos with this incredible trio.
All in all, there are more never list items on the itinerary for 2023, but it was great checking some off in 2022.
Scott Morganroth can be reached at email@example.com and you can find him on Twitter @TribuneSouth.
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