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Media denied access to cover race at Thunderhill Raceway


MikeHaag

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I was informed earlier this afternoon that Full Throttle Productions will not allow me the opportunity to cover the NASCAR West Series race tonight for San Antonio Express-News and MySanAntonio.com at Thunder Hill Raceway.

 

To find out why, click here to read my blog column at MySanAntonio.com.

 

Mike Haag

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Seems hard to believe... Most racing organizations are seeking all the free exposure they can get!

 

One time - a long, long time ago - when I was the Motorsports Editor for The San Antonio Light - I wrote a column critical of the NASCAR policy of allowing cars to speed full bore down pit road during pit stops. After that, I was denied NASCAR credentials with no explanation. The next year NASCAR changed it's pit road policy but never did forgive me for daring to say something "detrimental to the sport...."

 

And another time I was "banned' from the San Antonio Speedway press box for writing a story about the defending track champ - Beaver Stelzig - refusing to race at the track due to what he considered nepotism on the part of the track management. At that time track owner Frank Howell had both his son and son-in-law racing at the now-closed half-mile track. At the time I was providing extensive pre- and post-race coverage for the track.

 

So, things like this happen every now and then.

 

But it's a shame it had to happen to Mike who has been very good about covering THR events in the past...

 

Nick

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What I don't understand is Full Throttle Productions allowed me to cover the race in 2007.

 

Click here, to see last year's coverage

 

Also, I devoted my entire Friday notebook column for this event. Click here, to read it.

 

Plus, Dawn Murphy, Chip DuBose and I all talked about this race on her motorsports radio show this morning on ESPN 1250 AM The Zone in San Antonio.

 

Anyway, my gripe is with Full Throttle Productions and not Thunderhill Raceway. Everyone needs to remember that they are leasing/renting Thunderhill Raceway this weekend. Mary Ann Naumann and Debbie Williams didn't have any say in this matter.

 

Like Nick, I was also barred from San Antonio Speedway once. Bill and Judy Haglund barred the Express-News from attending the races once. When the Express-News sports editor threaten to pull all coverage of the track, I got to come back to the races the following weekend.

 

Mike Haag

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Upon reading that Mike Haag of the San Antonio Express-News was denied access to cover tonight's NASCAR West Series race at Thunderhill Raceway, TXSZ readers who are not at the race might be interested to know that it can be viewed "LIVE" on HDNet.

 

In San Antonio, the race is being telecast on Time Warner channel 162, on which I am watching flag-to-flag coverage.

 

The race is also available on Direct TV, channel 79.

 

 

Neil Upchurch

San Antonio

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Mike, You may want to think about your blog and how the fans in san Antone may read it.. i really can see how THR Staff can be made out to be the bad guy... And its not fair.... There are a lot of rules on this event, Some aren't even Full Throttles fault...

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Mike, You may want to think about your blog and how the fans in san Antone may read it.. i really can see how THR Staff can be made out to be the bad guy... And its not fair.... There are a lot of rules on this event, Some aren't even Full Throttles fault...

 

I have to agree with my good friends, Aaron and Jay Hallas..

1) Being stuck with friends on "both sides" of this, I don't want to upset anyone.

2) However...hey, I have people who genuinely don't like me, so what's a couple of more?...let me say this. Full Throttle takes its direction directly from NASCAR. (hint) And I totally agree with what Aaron said..

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I understand that NASCAR has rules and Full Throttle Productions and the media have to follow them.

 

Again, no one from NASCAR or Full Throttle Productions ever bothered to contact me or the San Antonio Express-News to inform us about their policy in regards to the media covering the event.

 

Normally, NASCAR, the IHRA and the NHRA have a media director who handles the media. The media director usually contacts newspapers, television and radio stations to see who is coming out to cover the event and informs them of any policies in regards to covering the event. I've covered many major motorsports events during the past 20 years and that has always been the protocol.

 

In this case, that didn't happen. Full Throttle Productions didn't have a media director to cover this event. There were no contact names or numbers on the event's web site either, so there was no one that I could contact about this issue on the day of the event.

 

Since I covered the event in 2007, I didn't think it was going to be a problem. After all, we are talking about a minor-league touring series coming in and racing at a minor-league short track in Kyle, Texas. And, if I recall correctly, there was only a handful of media in the press box last year, which pretty much consisted of me, Jay Hallas, Nick Holt and the two guys from NASCAR. There definitely wasn't a line of media guys trying to get in to cover the event last year.

 

Two weeks ago while covering the IHRA Texas Nationals at San Antonio Raceway, Greg Simmons from KSAT 12 TV in San Antonio arrived with a cameraman on the final day of the event without making prior arrangements with the IHRA and San Antonio Raceway. Mike Perry, the media relations director of the IHRA, allowed them in without any problems.

 

Also, my editor at the Express-News decided to send out a photographer on the last day. We didn't know who that person would be until the photographers came to work early Sunday morning and were given their daily photo assignments. Since the IHRA is flexible and understands how the media works, there was no problem getting our photographer in at the last minute.

 

Finally, the reason why I posted this on my blog at MYSA.com is to inform my readers why the Express-News wasn't there to cover the event. Also, since I talked about the race on ESPN 1250 AM on Saturday morning, I felt that my readers and the listeners on Dawn's radio show deserved to know why the Express-News wasn't going to be providing coverage of the event.

 

So, to make it very clear, I have no problem with the fact that NASCAR has rules and the media must follow them. My concern is that I was not offered the opportunity to follow those rules.

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I admire and respect the great folks at Full Throttle Productions and my long-time colleague Mike Haag. So I am definitely not going to point fingers at anyone.

 

But I do want to explain what I did to get credentials for both J.M. Hallas and myself.

 

I was not notified by Full Throttle or by NASCAR about the credentialing procedure in spite of the fact that both organizations have sent me press releases and other information in the past and certainly know how to contact me. But I knew that credentials would be required as did Mr. Hallas who reminded me to go to the Full Throttle website to download the credentials application - a lengthy, very detailed document that asked for as much information, or more, than any major racing event I have ever covered including NASCAR, ARCA, Winston West, PASS, ASA, All-Pro, Busch, Busch North and various very large "outlaw" events such as the Banknorth events in Maine.

 

I filled in the required form and was soon notified by Tavo that he had approved both Jay and me.

 

Since Jay wanted to cover the THR event, I elected to cover the Houston Motorsports Park event.

 

I am sure that if Mr. Haag had been notified of the required procedure his editor at the Express-News would have submitted the paperwork in a timely manner just as I did.

 

The one thing that should be made very clear about this unfortunate situation is that the Naumanns and THR had zero responsibility for any of this. Full Throttle Productions leased the track. NASCAR and Full Throttle were calling the shots, not Mary Ann or any of her staff.

 

Nick

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OK, here goes my two cents, not that it matters.

I was also denied access. Now please understand this, Neil Upchurch locally is the ONLY PR person who sends me ANYTHING on racing with his SERIES. With that said this last week I was called by T.Q. and asked if I would like to start coming out to I-37 and covering things, and I will be. NO ONE ELSE sends me results, or information AT ALL locally as far as Stock Car Racing. I get things from SAR and Hill Country Kart Club. Now I do get BOMBARDED on the NATIONAL LEVEL with everything from NASCAR to CHAMP CAR to Sport Bike Racing.

 

With that said, I understand I am a "NEWBIE" of sorts although I have been on the radio in one way or the other talking racing now for almost 5 years, but again, I know that THR covers not just San Antonio, but Austin. I also do not "BLAME" THR and their staff although I do kinda question the fact that they in the end RUN THIS TRACK and it was being LEASED by someone else. But I can understand not wanting to ruffle feathers.

 

My issue is this guys, real simple. I have NEVER had to get CREDENTIALED for ANY LOCAL RACE TRACK. I was not notified or sent press releases of this event. No COMMERCIALS are running on our SPORTS STATION or my RACE SHOW. I have never heard any ads, but I have been told I guess that stuff was running on a local country station. Anyway, because I had not been sent anything, I had NO IDEA there was a process to go through for this event. I was SCHEDULED through work to cover the SPURS game and got permission to go to the race and cover it instead since we have spent the last THREE WEEKS on our show talking about this race with MIKE, drivers,fans, and even MARY ANN. By the way, Mike tried for over a week to get a hold of TAVO also so we could get him or someone on to further pub the event.

 

I was told by Debbie that I would not be able to come as media without the credentials and I could try and put in through the website and she would try to help. I was so upset though at this point and in the end not only did I not get to attend this event to cover it after really working hard to get the word out about it, but I also missed covering ONE HELL OF A FREAKING SPURS GAME!!!!! :)

 

I have personally walked into the Texas Motor Speedway offices on Friday of a Race Event and had someone credentialed before. If this can be done on the NATIONAL level, I would think there has to be something changed locally to accommodate this kind of situation. There are lots of media venues that make last minute schedule changes and may want to in the future include an event like this in their coverage. I have talked with a couple of promoters though and they all say in no way do you EVER TURN AWAY MEDIA COVERAGE, especially to those who have ALWAYS been on your side and tried to help you. I can understand me I guess and not allowing me in, but Mike Haag is another story. I have HUGE ISSUES with him being denied.

 

Let me say this, in the end I am very glad the event was a success crowd wise and I guess coverage wise, although it sounds like mostly Austin coverage. As a member of the media in San Antonio, this bothers me. But I would just like to know if opinions would be different about this situation if the event was not a success or if the coverage was like it was last year.

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This is absolutely the CRAZIEST thing that I have ever heard of.In the end Thunderhill management should have stepped up and said/done something,after all this is THEIR track and it's suppose to be a make it or break it year for THR!!!!It's possible that THR want be around next year for NASCAR to come so why should THR management care if poor little ol NASCAR gets mad,because they are gone now and the local media is MAD!!!!The only bad media coverage is NO media coverage and who can blame them for having a severe case of the reds!!!!"Someone" dropped the ball and an exception should have been made!!!!!

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So lets get this straight. It THR's fault for leasing the track to an independant party for money to use it the way they seem fit and not allow someone whom they normally allow in to cover races in. That's the most stupidest thing I have ever heard. Anytime can deny access to anyone for any reason that they lease or own.

 

Things change all the time for the good or the bad. I have access to Nascar events from time to time because of some friends that work in the industry. Everytime I go to an event I have to provide them the necessary information that is requested. I know this. Just because I am allowed access for the previous year I dont expect to be allowed in the following year because I was allowed in the previous year. I realize that media creditials are a bit different. What was expected of the media professionals were in black in white on their website.

 

Its seems Nick and Jay did what was expected of them and provided the necessary paperwork and they were allowed in if they so choose. With all due respect they did not expect to be let in because of prior coverage for the event. The real question should be asked, why didn't I do what was expected of me as a professional and do the exact same thing.

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Marvin: The HDNet service here in San Antonio on Time Warner does cost a little extra because it is included as a "premium channel" with all the other High Def services. I can watch any program on all those channel and HDNet 24/7 for the same premium monthly charge.

 

Last night, HDNet was promoting their next telecast of NASCAR West which they will cover "live" on HDNet. It will be their May race at Iowa Speedway. (I don't recall the May date except late May).

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Modracer I understand what you are saying, but again, I was not aware of ANY Media Credential procedure on the website. I was never sent anything. I would also say that this kind of t hing could happen again. What if a local station heard an ad, did some research, found out that this is a big event and decided, hey let's get someone on this. Do you turn them away at the gate? I would have been satisfied to stand at the fence and watch. I did not need any MEDIA TABLE to work form, or PIT ACCESS, or anything else. Just to view the event LIVE and chat with folks out there was what I was looking to do. Again this was a breakdown in communication. I hope there is a lesson or two here learned so this type of thing does not happen further.

 

I don't blame THR. I do not know the procedures or RULES for contracting out a track. All I know is the way I felt last night was WHO'S TRACK IS IT IN THE ENDand again I was upset ( YOU GUYS KNOW HOW US CHICS ARE WHEN WE ARE BITTER... :D ), but that is not my way of thinking today. Although I will say anytime I have ever LEASED something from someone else I was doing just that, PAYING TO USE SOMEONE ELSES PROPERTY, and in no way did that EVER give me the RIGHT to make my own rules or be the final SAY SO on how things went, but again I have never leased a track for an event so maybe when doing so, you do have the power to run the place as if it was yours. I don't know. It's done now, can't go back and change it...

 

Again, lesson learned for me.

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I for one would like to see this thread pulled. To me it is a bash and doesnt need to go any further! If it was about a driver it would have been edited and or deleted for content. I saw J. there spoke with him for at least 30-45 minutes. J. thanks for your coverage at ALL the events you cover. Great Job! Since when does being media give someone the right to get on a forum and bash a group for not giving them entrance for FREE to an event. Pay $30 like most people and go to them in PRIVATE to see if they will return your money. It's bad enough when we bash each other, but worse when people use their media to make their issues public. Go to Tavo!

 

(on edit) My friend from the Victoria Advocate had her information sent in and had credentials waiting. Due to some personal issues she wasn't able to make it. I know TQ was busy most of last week and I'm not making excuses, but he returns every phone call I ever make to him.

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