NASCAR After The Lap - A Day In The Life

January 27, 2017

As one of the nation’s premier event producers, JHE’s team spends countless hours creating memorable, best-in-class event experiences for its clients. However, that entails a not-so-glamorous life of late nights and early mornings; details, details and more details; and fitting in a little fun in between.

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 JHE prides itself not only on its people but the quality of work we deliver.

For our first day-in-the-life spotlight, the audacious and full-of-life Kristin Thompson, director of special events, takes us through several days leading up to the annual NASCAR After The Lap which took place Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016. 

NASCAR After The Lap - A Day In The Life

Monday, Nov. 28

               

3:30 a.m.

The alarm goes off. Did I even sleep? The dog did. My movie didn't download overnight - awesome. It's going to be a long flight to Las Vegas with no entertainment.

4:52 a.m.

Arrive at MYR (Myrtle Beach, South Carolina). It's been nine years since I last flew out of MYR ... to go to my interview at JHE, in fact. Parking here is super close – no busses to get on; oddly expensive compared to Charlotte, though. My bag is 51.5 pounds. The gate agent makes me take out one shoe which doesn't make my bag underweight so I'm not sure what the point was. Hopefully my bag doesn't get lost. Otherwise I'm going to dinner tonight with one shoe.

5:55 a.m.

I underestimated the number of people that would be on the upgrade list ahead of me. Bummer. Wheels up to Charlotte to meet the rest of the crew.

6:49 a.m.

Arrived in Charlotte. Ready for a giant Starbucks and some grub.

7:29 a.m.

No dice on the upgrade to Las Vegas either. Coffee is delicious. However, the person sitting in between Natalie (Epperly) and I is way too tall for this plane. I feel sorry for him.

10:10 a.m. (PST)

Coffee #2 in hand and we are at baggage claim. Easy flight thanks to the free movies that American offers! Little bit of turbulence so we only feared for our lives once. Not a ton on the schedule today. Mainly get the trucks parked and check out a new event space in Las Vegas.

12:12 p.m.

Check in with the venue contacts, test internet lines, pick up tickets, check in with Eddie (our truck driver extraordinaire), confirm signage install time, coffee #3

3:30 p.m.

Meet for a site check at Park Theater.

4:37 p.m.

Men at work photo! 

4:55 p.m.

Beer! Been in Vegas for almost a whole day and just got around to having a drink. Surely that’s some sort of record.

7:15 p.m.

Dinner with the client (Dana Lent) at Yardbird. Always a good choice.

8:49 a.m.

Cab back to hotel. Boys want to play craps ... girls want one more glass of wine. Refer back to getting up at 3:30 a.m. EST. Ouch.

9:30 p.m.

Night night!

 

Tuesday, Nov. 29                                    

3:30 a.m.

Wake up! Signage install with Design to Print starts promptly at 4 a.m.

4 a.m.

It’s so early!

5:19 a.m.

Back in bed for a couple of hours.

6 a.m.

Long-time partner, DSS, starts marking the floor and begins production load in. The set this year is so cool. Tons of video.

8 a.m.

Natalie heads down to meet the DSS gang, and Tim (Kurek) sets up GoPro cameras to record the set up 

9 a.m.

I go back downstairs to kick off the rest of day one. I should have just stayed awake. Signage install galore. Kara, Natalie and I get the production office set up so we can function out of it for the week. Home away from home. 

11 a.m.

Ops team comes in to assemble stage furniture. I don’t envy this job. Allen wrenches are not anyone’s friend.

2 p.m.

Dan (Mott) and Matt (Davis) meet for an internal run of show (ROS) overview and rehearsal plan. Gotta practice for practice. Sounds funny but it is actually really beneficial when there are 30 other cooks in the kitchen come show day. 

4:30 p.m.

How have I only had one cup of coffee so far today? Only a few install items are left. The install team has been killing it but will have a full day of reprints tomorrow. As with any large-scale event, there are always going to be some hiccups. Thankfully this vendor is really great to work with and always takes great care of us.

5 p.m.

The Pearl staff starts setting seats. It’s all coming together and coming together quick!

5:30 p.m.

Unpackage all the autograph items and proof them. Dinner - one piece of deliciously greasy pizza.

6 p.m.

Time to catch up on other work. The rest of the crew heads out for the night except for the video team, Natalie and Dan. Reasonably early day. We’ve gotten much more efficient over the year’s. DSS stays late to finish up the stage. It looks so good. The signage on it looks pretty amazing too. Brandon (Stegall) and the fab team made some cool pieces for it. 

10:30 p.m.

Shower and bed. Full day of rehearsals tomorrow.

 

Wednesday, Nov. 30                                     

6:30 a.m.

Wake up!

8 a.m.

Coffee #1, final signage install, tweaks on stage set, run of show internal meeting, internet drops for VIP guests and media row and load video content.

11 a.m.

Ops staff comes in to prep for rehearsals.

Noon

Camera and spotlight operators come in to do a little blocking rehearsal before the client arrives at 1 p.m.

12:30 p.m.

Jimmie Johnson’s car is delivered to be loaded onto the stage. This is always an interesting process. Thank goodness our ops staff can handle anything.

1 p.m.

Client arrives for rehearsal as does the fire marshal and NASCAR.com. Sometimes, even with the best planning, everyone is going to show up at once. 

1:40 p.m.

Run throughs with video and lighting.

5:23 p.m.

COFFEE and fresh air break (side note – when you’re producing an event in Vegas and you stay onsite you very rarely see the sun. Fresh air breaks are almost as important as coffee). Final tweaks on pretty much everything and some dinner before bed. Tomorrow is going to be a long but really great day. A lot of hard work from a lot of people go into this event. It’s always amazing watching it all come together.

 

Thursday, Dec. 1 – Game Day!                         

8:30 a.m.

Everybody is up and at it this morning making sure everything is in tip-top shape for when the event hosts arrive for rehearsal. We meet as a group to walk through any changes that were made last night and review the plan for the morning rehearsal.

10 a.m.

Guy Fieri and Rutledge Wood arrive for rehearsal (Guy may have been a tick fashionably late). These two are absolutely hilarious together. There is such an ease with them, true professionals and so, so, so funny.

10 a.m.

Kara (Hickerson) gets the autograph tables set up. She is responsible for making sure 16 guys sign about 100 things. It’s chaos, but she does a great job wrangling those guys. I don’t envy that job.

1:30 p.m.

Our vendors for the fan area in the lobby, Hit & Run and Tap Snap, arrive for set up. The fan experience should be really good in the lobby this year. Final script tweaks are underway. Good thing I type fast as this is my job to get finalized before the show so all of the talent can review their parts.  

2:30 p.m.

Doors are open. Fans are starting to make their way in to get settled before Victory Lap begins. The t-shirt booth in the lobby is quite the hit!

3:30 p.m.

Victory Lap begins. It’s great that we can stream this event so the fans can watch from their seats. Miss Sprint Cup, Julianna, and I are in the crowd giving away signed hats and tickets to the red carpet at the Awards Ceremony the next night. Fans are loving it.

4:25 p.m.

Drivers arrive, chaos ensues. They have to sign a ton of stuff, get changed and prepped for the show. It’s a lot of people and things happening in a small space.

5 p.m.

The show beings. I love when the show starts and each staff member settles into their respective job. It’s like clockwork; no matter how chaotic it sounds on our headsets. My role once the show gets going is to move the talent around as needed. It’s nice because I get to actually enjoy the show. 

5:07 p.m.

A fire alarm is going off. Something triggered it but the show must go on. Live events … what can you do?

Update: Fire alarm finally was silenced a few minutes later. At least it went off during intros so it wasn’t AS noticeable.

5:15 p.m.

Drivers and hosts get settled into a rhythm. Lots of good content (and tequila). Honorable mention to Chris Buescher who took his roasting like a champ. 

5:40 p.m.

AJ Foyt surprises Tony Stewart. It is truly a Goose Bump moment. 

6:30 p.m.

Show ends. I am covered in confetti and streamers thanks to my wonderful colleagues. The drivers were rowdy as usual but so many great moments for the fans. Time for LOAD OUT!

7 p.m.

More pizza (it’s so good) and a quick, informal debrief in the dressing room. We get our parts and pieces packed up on the truck. We have a party to get to.

10 p.m.

Depart for the Coors Light Silver Bullet Bash. It’s nice to end the night having fun together over some much needed (strong) cocktails. We clean up alright and I will leave it at that. 

 

Friday, Dec. 2                           

7 a.m.

Woke up really early. There are McDonalds wrappers on the night stand. Solid way to end the trip. Back to sleep.

9:30 a.m.

Natalie and the rest of the crew head to the airport to go back to Charlotte. I am on a later flight since I am connecting to Myrtle Beach. I will take all the sleep I can get.

11 a.m.

Off to the airport. I need some greasy food and a nap on the plane. See you next year, Las Vegas!

Categories:
Tags:
Event, Producer, NASCAR After The Lap, Kristin Thompson, Special Event, Day in the life, backstage, behind the curtains
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