Through the Eyes of the Voice: Volume 1.01

10615499_10202399120771000_2740348178077663084_nA lean back in the chair, accompanied by a glance at my watch reveals that it’s another late night in the home office. The clock is soon to strike midnight, but there’s no time for sleep. In a little over 48 hours it’s time to roll out of the driveway in my familiar Ford Fusion Sport to head ten hours down the road to southeast Georgia to officially open Speedweeks 2015.

Seventeen racing events in seventeen days. Sounds like a dream to any race fan. To me it sounds like a lot of work staring me in the eyes with a little fun — ok, a lot of fun — thrown into the mix.

Welcome to the first installment of a new feature here at One Dirt that I’m calling “Through the Eyes of the Voice.” In my constant pursuit to generate content that is both informative and entertaining for the great patrons of our site, I’ve created this new concept. I’m lucky enough to get paid to talk about races for a living, and I get requests from fans and racers all the time to share my experiences and observations from the road on a regular basis. Your wish is my command, so here we go.

Welcome to the first installment of a new feature here at One Dirt that I’m calling “Through the Eyes of the Voice.”

With a practice night and six rounds of racing already in the rearview mirror after a great start to the year in Arizona in mid-January, I’m getting geared up for the chaos known as Speedweeks. My two and a half week trek of chasing racing will take me to five tracks in Georgia and Florida. While my time on the road will be filled with over a hundred hours of work at the track, the lion’s share of my tasks actually unfold before I ever vacate the comfy confines of my Collierville, Tennessee home.

This year I’m returning as the full-time announcer with the World of Outlaws (WoO) Late Model Series. It’s one of the few good paying announcing jobs in the dirt racing world. Let’s be honest, there just aren’t many to be had in the sport, so I consider myself more than blessed to have the job. As a result, in addition to the expectations that are placed on me by the World Racing Group to professionally represent their series, I put a great deal of extra pressure on myself to be well-prepared in advance.

Preparing for the opening events for the series each season, which will be held this year at Screven Motorsports Complex (Sylvania, Georgia), February 6th-7th, by far has the most work associated with it. Not only do I have my typical “homework” to do, which includes compiling notes and stats for the drivers I expect to be in attendance, but I also have to prepare the nightly sponsor reads for the season.

The nightly sponsor reads, which include product descriptions for dozens of much-valued supporters, can take up to fifteen minutes to read straight through, and this task is required to be completed twice per race night. Clearly this can be taxing, when you are already talking roughly three hours a night. As a result, I record the sponsor reads on my office computer, edit the audio, and finally compile them into a single MP3 file that can be played throughout the night from my iPod. Last year I came up with the idea to have my wife do 70% of the voice work on the reads, so that the racing patrons don’t have to listen to the same voice all night. The feedback was well received, which only goes to show where the true talent in this relationship truly lies!

With the preparation complete for my duties with the WoO tour, I then turn my attention to getting my head right for my other duties during Speedweeks. From on-camera interviews and features for DirtOnDirt.com, to written features for One Dirt, to taking care of my website clients, it’s truly a never-ending process. However, like anything, good preparation pays off in the long run.

With my homework and preproduction tasks in the rearview mirror I can next focus on the daunting task of packing. The good thing about a trip like one this as opposed to my eleven day stint in Arizona is that I’m actually driving my personal vehicle to these races. This allows me to pack considerably more than when I’m having to fly somewhere with limited luggage space. Even with almost limitless space in my car, I try to optimize what I take. On this annual trek I’m able to take far less clothes than normal, because almost two weeks of my time will be spent staying with the DirtOnDirt.com crew in rented houses that have washers and dryers. You would be surprised at how much easier life on the road can be when you have regular access to something as simple as laundry facilities.

Most people who know me are aware that over the past few years I’ve battled injuries to my right foot. And for Speedweeks 2015 I’ve taken it to an elevated level. What appeared to maybe just be a tweak of my right foot last week was confirmed earlier today to be a complete re-fracture of the sesamoid bone under my big toe. I’m not sure what the function of this bone is, but I can tell you it creates out-of-this-world pain when damaged. As a result, I’ll likely be sporting a not-so-fashionable robo-boot for the seventeen day stretch. It should look real nice with my speedo on the beach 😉

All jokes aside, injuries like this just make things a little more difficult, and when you are away from home for so long, any little deviation can exasperate the daily challenges that you face.

Screven Motorsports Complex, North Florida Speedway, East Bay Raceway Park, Bubba Raceway Park, and Volusia Speedway Park….not too shabby of a list of racing destinations to fill the month of February. It’s a ton of work, but it’s also a ton of fun. It’s a lot of time away from my beautiful wife and our furry kids, but luckily they are incredibly supportive of me living my dreams.

So with that thought, the inaugural volume of “Through the Eyes of the Voice” draws to a close. Hopefully, you enjoyed what you read here today and you’ll enjoy the future editions as well. I hope to paint as accurate a picture as possible of what life on the road is really like. The good, the bad, the ugly, and all points in between.

Last, but not least, I’m always looking for new ideas for articles and features. So please feel free to share your requests and ideas here or drop me a line at msrmafia@gmail.com .

About the author

Ben Shelton

Ben got his start at historic Riverside International Speedway. His accomplished motorsports media career includes journalist, race announcer, and on-air personality.
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