Coast to Coast with Cody Kauffman – A Day in the Life

May 31, 2017

As one of the nation’s premier event producers, the CSM Production team spends countless hours creating memorable, best-in-class event experiences for its clients. Our goal is to take you behind the scenes to see what goes in to the production of an event. While this is just a snapshot of a day or several days, it’s a sense of who we are and why CSM prides itself not only on its people but the quality of work we deliver.

Cody Kauffman, live shows manager, had a whirlwind few days executing the Daytona Supercross by Honda and IndyCar at St. Petersburg within 24 hours of each other in two different cities 160 miles apart.

 

Thursday, March 9

5 a.m.

Good Morning … HA! Alarm goes off at 4:45 a.m. Snooze button. 5 a.m. and finally somewhat motivated to get out of bed. Damn, its early. Showered, dressed and ready to go.

5:25 a.m.

I prefer Red Bull blueberry edition for breakfast. Out the door, and it’s 40 degrees. Florida, here we come! Bring on sunny and 75.

5:50 a.m.

Arrive at Charlotte Douglas Airport.

6 a.m.

Priority check in and look who is there … Will Rutherford. Checked in and over to TSA. You would be amazed at how easily Jeff Gordon blends into the morning masses. Quick nod, and off to the gate. Boarding for our flight is at 7:15 a.m. Having completed boarding, it’s iPod and shades on. Time for a quick nap.

9:09 a.m.

We touch down in Tampa. Grab our luggage and rental cars and off to St. Petersburg

10:15 a.m.

We begin the weekend at St. Pete for the IndyCar race weekend. Once we arrive, it’s a quick meeting followed by lunch. From here, I gear up for our 1:30 p.m. run through and stage meeting with IndyCar and the St. Pete team.

1:30 p.m.

Run through the weekend’s events and obligations for opening ceremonies on Sunday.  Our IndyCar pre-race stage doubles as Victory Lane for the weekend. We help coordinate all of the Victory Lane podium celebrations for 13 races.

3:45 p.m.

It’s time for schedule updates and emails to get things squared away before departing for Daytona Supercross. It’s roughly 3:45 p.m. and off to Daytona.

7:30 p.m.

Arrived at Daytona International Speedway. I have been in communication with the team for most of my voyage across the state as they have been working through some challenges.

8 p.m.

I head to pit road where the stage is located and survey where we stand on items. Time to jump in and help as the team has been here plugging away. After a few hours and solving problems, we head out at 10:45 p.m.

 

11:05 p.m.

Check in to the hotel and catch a quick shower. Off to bed.

 

Friday, March 10

7 a.m.

Up early and checking emails to see how the St. Pete crew is doing. Our call time for Daytona is 11 a.m. It is finally time to head to the track and start a full day for Daytona Supercross.

Noon

Quick lunch at the track. We are meeting with our Daytona clients and checking in on the progress at the stage. Throughout the afternoon, our AV team is finishing set up and stage work. We produce the full run of show for the Supercross event and manage the screen program. Dan Mott from our team has been a great asset to oversee most of the programming. He and I work closely on the overall production and show. For Daytona Supercross by Honda, we bring our friends from DSS in to assist with stage lighting. It is the same stage most saw for The Clash several weeks ago for Speedweeks. Fireworks by Santore arrived and prepped all of the gear and pyro for the show. They provide a :90 pyro show with a built-in finale to open the event. They also provide custom pyro and rider shots for each rider after they are introduced along with cryo jets and a fog inside the stage, flame boxes on stage and also on the finish line for the main event.  For the start of the 450 main event, they will have a pyro shot for the “gate drop”. 

3:30 p.m.

The spotlight team arrives. We have two spotlights that are used for opening ceremonies, tracking the riders as they perform stunts and to follow a portion of their ride on the course after entering.

6:45 p.m.

We are all set for a quick run through with Daytona at the stage. From here we play several of our custom audio tracks and DSS showcases their lighting package that is synced to the tracks. We run through our “open track” and a few others to get a feel for how Saturday will go. Our clients are happy, and it’s time to start powering down for the evening. We have set staggered call times for the team tomorrow as it will be a long day.

 

Saturday, March 11

7-8 a.m.

Time to start my day. Quick check in with the St. Pete crew to see how they are while gearing up for the announcer meeting we have at 10 a.m. Off to the track with several of our AV team, Dan and Ann. We arrive after 9 a.m. and prep for our meeting and the day’s activities. Soon the screen program will be running and sorting audio for different points of the day.

10 a.m.

Ann Nestor, Dan and I meet with the announcers and members from the speedway to run through the night’s show and races. New for this year, we incorporated a DJ. The announcer and DJ will play to the crowd and toss it back and forth, driving energy in the crowd. The meeting goes well and everyone is ready for the evening’s events.

The rest of the team make their way in over the course of the next couple of hours. The stage is prepped and ready for opening ceremonies.

3 p.m.

The DJ arrived. We head to the stage to survey the area and show him where he will be performing. I check in with St. Pete and see how the post-race 5000 is going. Qualifying for IndyCar has started, and I am closely monitoring. For IndyCar, we interview 5-6 drivers during opening ceremonies. Our client, Joe Hodge and I will determine who to interview during driver introductions once qualifying wraps. We cover the top story lines, past winners, rookie talent and fan favorites. I work up our most current minute by minute and pass it along. Things are going well in St. Pete, and now it’s time to switch gears as our opening ceremonies in Daytona are fast approaching.

4:30 p.m.

Grab a quick bite and finish looking over everything. Everyone gathers. It’s time for a meeting and to go over the run of show and questions.

5:30 p.m.

We make our way to the stage. DJ Ich has been getting the crowd warmed up and playing through the track maintenance session. The pyro crew is starting to take their pyro carts out to the ballfield and put the finishing touches on their items. DSS is ready to go at the stage with the lighting package. 

6:25 p.m.

START THE SHOW! We pick up with an audio track to prep for VIPs and the official welcome. Chip Wile, president of Daytona International Speedway, welcomes the large crowd to kick off ceremonies. Andrew Short, brand ambassador and professional test rider for Honda, also gives remarks.

Next up, we quickly set for the anthem package. After the completion of the anthem, we go to a quick audio bed and clear the stage. I cue the open piece.  5-4-3-2-1 Start the show. Warriors-a custom edit we have produced in house starts the show with custom pyro and lighting. This is a pretty cool :90 and really energizes the crowd. We go right into our custom welcome for Ricky Carmichael. He is interviewed on stage prior to riding the course and speaks to the fans from his helmet mic.  We continue through the top 11 riders; each with a custom audio track and pyro and lighting to match.

7 p.m.

Rider introductions are done and now we interview the top seven before the start of the first 250 heat and races for the night. 7:05:30 it’s a quick fired up custom high energy music bed to amp the crowd before the gates drop. One of the popular ones we did was an edit from Mortal Kombat. The crowd really seemed to enjoy it.

From here, Dan and I work closely with our AV team and run of show. We have commercial spots, give-a-ways, interviews and the DJ playing to sort through after each heat race. Prior to each heat, we play another custom :30 “gate drop track”.  It is time for the 250 main event. We coordinate with Santore for the pyro flames on top of the finish line, and DSS at the stage for Victory Lane lighting.

After the race, we have the DJ play through a full Victory Lane at the stage. Next up, it’s time for the 450 main event. Pyro will have its custom gate drop shot which makes a great photo. Flames from on top of the finish line, and then we head to Victory Lane. DJ Ich has the crowd going as we prep for Victory Lane. The fans have now invaded the track and there is a sea of people for the podium celebration. At the completion of Victory Lane, we keep the energy going for another 20-30 minutes as fans start making their way out.

11 p.m.

It’s now after 11 p.m., and the team is starting to tear down the stage and other elements we have to pack up. Ryan Baxter, Ann and I head back to the hotel. It is a quick morning for Baxter and I as we go to St. Pete for IndyCar.  It is tough to sleep after the Supercross event; still pretty amped after a great show and likely what is too much caffeine. I probably get two hours of sleep before being up at 5 a.m.

 

Sunday, March 12

5 a.m.

It’s time to get ready for IndyCar. The forecast has been calling for rain and that could throw a few curveballs into opening ceremonies. There is an early meeting schedule and info will be relayed from our client.

8:07 a.m.

We made it. Into the track we go navigating to the office trailer to prep for the day. The St. Pete crew has arrived just before us. I quickly print the updated minute by minute and distribute. A quick chat to our team, and they head to the stage to get ready for a run through with Mickey Mouse (he is a special guest for the pre-race). I bring the skydive team into the track. We go over timing and sync watches. We make our way to the security point where they will bring their gear truck on and off and survey the landing zone. After this, they depart for the airport to get ready.

I make my way back to the office and walk through scripting and run of show with Alex. We make a few changes and then off to the stage to meet with the group.  We run through the first post-race of the day for IndyLights. From there things pick up as it’s a quick flip to SST prior to IndyCar ceremonies.  A delay pushes back the start of the SST race and thus we will have to move their podium celebration as we will start IndyCar Ceremonies right on time.

11:42 a.m.

We start right on time for opening ceremonies, working through the VIP list and honorary positions. Mark Schlereth serves as grand marshal, and Mario Andretti takes Ken Griffey Jr. for a ride in the two-seater to start the race. Now, it is time to reveal the largest one of the day … Mickey Mouse! Mickey makes a surprise intro and kicks off driver introductions. For IndyCar, we interview six of the drivers after they have been introduced to showcase their personalities, get thoughts for the race and a few questions.

12:09 p.m.

We completed driver introductions and made our way to the grid on pit lane where the anthem package and command will take place.  We intro Team FasTrax as they are out of plane and making their way into the track with American flags. This is always quite a sight, and they are an excellent team to work with. They land just prior to the start of the anthem.

12:15 p.m.

We introduce the Color Guard, have the Invocation and then the anthem. SSgt Cherrelle Warren from MacDill Air Force Base performs the anthem, and it’s capped off by a 1 MH-60 TJ Hawk Helicopter from the US Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater. Now we gear up for the command. We work with the screen program of IMSP to bounce back and forth on the run of show.

Time for the command! Mark Schlereth, three-time Super Bowl Champion and ESPN personality delivers the iconic command to fire engines.  It is now around 12:31 and the 110-lap race begins.

Our team must now prepare the stage for IndyCar Victory Lane.  The winning car will drive in where we will shoot confetti “out of car” and again for the trophy celebration. We have a custom Victory Lane step and repeat with the three-step podium for the drivers. We re-introduce the top-three much like pre-race. They come out to greet the fans and have a quick interview with Michael Young, the announcer for IndyCar.  After post-race, we begin tearing down the stage and pre-packing items. We still run two post-race celebrations for Pirelli World Challenge and Pro-Mazda.

5:30 – 6 p.m.

We are finishing up the last post-race celebration and packing up to head out.

6 p.m.

Depart the track to get checked into the hotel and rest for a bit.

8 p.m.

Around 8 p.m., I meet with several of our team and head out for dinner. Nathan from our team has friends in the area, and we catch up with them in downtown. After dinner, we make our way over to a VIP party hosted at one of the restaurants. DJ Ich is performing. The night continues as we catch up with some friends and venture out a bit to celebrate a crazy weekend. 

 

Monday, March 13

5 a.m.

Up super early after a few hours of sleep. Let’s call it 5 hours of sleep in the last two days. Looking forward to getting home and sleeping the day away. 

6 a.m.

We depart the hotel and wheels up at 8:25 a.m. 

We land in Charlotte and must wait on luggage which seems to take around three days. It could be the exhaustion setting in. Pick up luggage and off to get the car. I get home a little after noon. SLEEEEEP!

 

The COAST TO COAST trip is in the books. Back into the office on Tuesday to recap the events and gear up for the next events.

 

Categories:
Tags:
IndyCar, Supercross, Daytona, coast to coast, road life, producer
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