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Editorial

Spotters Face Challenges at Indy

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Aside from the road courses on NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series, the team spotter is generally perched high above the track on the frontstretch, to offer the best view of the action.

Typically, there is one spotter for each car giving him the sole responsibility of relaying timely information. But the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is far from typical.

Here, the spotters – and each team uses two – are relegated to speedway’s landmark Pagoda, located close to the frontstretch, but on the inside of the track.

“It’s definitely different than anywhere else on the circuit,” said Lorin Ranier, who spots for Jamie McMurrary, “with two spotters, you have to establish a definite hand-off point so we don’t talk over each other.”

The primary spotter is located at the rear of the Pagoda and covering the exit of turn one through the entrance of turn four. The additional spotter faces the grandstand and picks up his car off turn four and takes him through turn one. That position also takes charge of the restarts and pit road activity.

T.J. Majors, longtime spotter for Dale Earnhardt Jr, doesn’t relish not having exclusive contact with his driver.

“The hardest part is not being in control when your car is out of your sight. We’re all so used to giving our drivers the information and you get into a rhythm; but as soon as you lose him you feeling kind of helpless.”

Another challenge that presents itself is the lack of a clear view on the backstretch and into turn three. Jeff Gordon’s Spotter, Eddie D’Hondt explains.

“Once the car exits turn two, you’re dealing with a lot of trees, so you lose and find your car in split-seconds. Once they get to (turn) three, there’s a building there, which allows you to only see the roof of the car. It’s sort of like a high-speed treasure hunt.”

Mike Calinoff

Over the past twenty-three years, Mike has become a notable figure in the NASCAR community. As a Spotter, he spent a total of 14 seasons with Matt Kenseth and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in the Monster Energy Cup and XFINITY Series. All told, at Roush Fenway Racing, he garnered over 40 wins including three Championships and two Daytona 500’s. At the end of 2013, Mike left Roush Fenway to focus on his companies and stays active in the NASCAR community at many levels. Mike was a regular guest on SIRIUS NASCAR Radio, featured "act" Speed TV's Trackside Live and makes on occasional cameo on soap operas. (Really?) He has an affinity for starting new things, such as Popular Speed and 140 BUZZ – a PR, Marketing and Social Media company. Many 140 BUZZ clients are NASCAR teams, drivers and sponsors and represent many of the most visible brands in NASCAR and other business categories. Mike is also a Driver Development consultant, where he works with families and drivers around the country to set a career path. As a stand-up comic Mike is, without a doubt, the funniest guy he knows. Calinoff lives in Lake Norman, NC

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