Growing up in palm-tree lined South Florida, the closest I ever came to a car race was zooming around in kid-sized go-carts at a local amusement park. Born to Cuban-immigrant parents, I was more familiar with popular spectator events like jai alai than NASCAR racing.
Needless to say, when the UPS Race to Miami employee contest was launched, I jumped at the chance to win a trip home and encouraged all my friends and family to sign up for UPS My Choice. My many persuasive emails paid off, and on November 18, along with 29 winning UPSers, I was sitting in an air-conditioned motorbus zipping through the traffic of Miami with a police escort in tow. Who needs the speed of NASCAR when you have Miami-Dade County’s finest leading you down a street in the opposite direction of traffic and running red lights?
At the Homestead-Miami Speedway, a 65,000-seat facility and the vision of Ralph Sanchez, a Cuban-exile (who knew?), I was greeted by a sea of RVs loaded with barbeques, coolers and die-hard NASCAR fans elated to see which of the 43 drivers would take home the title at the NASCAR Sprint Cup final race of the year.
As a NASCAR newbie, I was completely enthralled by the pit road guided tour and learning new factoids, such as:
- Former athletes are hired to haul and lift the 90-lb ethanol-blend fueling tanks during pit stops (every 50 laps or so).
- They use nitrogen to fill the no-tread tires, and teams spend $8-$9 million a year on rebuilding car engines, which they rebuild every single week.
- Five years ago, the racing industry started using instant messaging between pit crews on the same team to communicate confidential tips to each other in order to gain the competitive advantage.
- On the sustainability front, they recycle oil and radiator fluids with an onsite vendor. They also recycle tires (they often go through 40 per race), which can later be used for swing sets and playground mulch.
Once the race started, the roar of cars flashing by at speeds of up to 191 miles per hour was deafening (think heavy metal band times 1000!). I watched each dizzying lap – all 267 of them – which lasted a whopping four hours as the Miami sun set in the backdrop. While the UPS 99-car did not walk away with the winning cup, it was an interesting adventure that I’m grateful UPS afforded me. Who knows, I might have even caught the racing bug – on second thought, I think I’ll stick to go-carts!
|Category:||Business Insights, Sports Talk|
|Tags:||employees, Miami, NASCAR, UPS My Choice, UPSers|