Sunday, May 25, 2008
Updated: January 6, 10:44 AM ET
I didn't necessarily sign up for this
CONCORD, N.C -- It's 10:03 a.m. Sunday before the Coca-Cola 600. I'm standing in front of a camera at the entrance to pit lane at Lowe's Motor Speedway, one minute from live air on NASCAR Now. It's a glorious day, and the wind is picking up.
Because a Blackhawk helicopter is touching down 40 yards away.
Down goes the sun shade, salvaged only barely thanks to Tim Cowlishaw's cat-like reflexes. T.O. would be jealous. The camera almost bites the dust, too, but the cameraman saves it. Debris pelts us, fills computer bags and jacket pockets. Papers and sunglasses fly from the pit wall.
Soldiers on the periphery chuckle. They're used to it.
A production voice from Connecticut comes in my ear: "Marty, here we come
As I begin to discuss something frivolous about Jimmie Johnson's prowess at Charlotte, fake bombs explode behind me. Fake mortars are launched. Fake gunfire sprays.
None of it sounds fake.
Smoke billows about. Soldiers covered in pseudo-shrubbery scamper toward the driver introduction stage. Cowlishaw mentions they're here to abduct Kyle Busch.
I am rattled. Slightly. But I manage to remain focused.
There are particles of rubber in my ear. And eye. There is sand stuck in my Chapstick.
But my hair is fine. Thus, so am I.