Radio announcer Marty Brennaman has spent a Hall of Fame career watching the Cincinnati Reds turn left around the bases for the past 44 years.
On July 14, he’ll see a different version of turning left.
Brennaman will serve as the honorary pace car driver for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway during the speedway’s triple-header weekend in July. The Camping World Truck Series Buckle Up In Your Truck 225 (July 12) and Xfinity Series Alsco 300 (July 13) are also in action.
“I said yes, with a little bit of trepidation,” Brennaman said last week during Kentucky Speedway’s media day at the Montgomery Inn Boathouse. “Unlike me, I’m convinced my wife, Amanda, was either a NASCAR driver or she drove an 18-wheeler over the road in a previous life. She drives us everywhere we go – I don’t drive unless I’m by myself.”
This will be Brennaman’s first NASCAR race in about 60 years, even though his daughter Ashley works as Kentucky Speedway’s communications manager. Brennaman said his last visit came when his career was just starting out at a small radio station in Salisbury, N.C.
“Back in the 1960s … I went (to the Coca-Cola 600 at) Charlotte Motor Speedway and it was so deafening and so noisy,” Brennaman said. “I tell people I made a pact with God that day if he let me out of there I’d never go back. He did and I haven’t. That’s changed a lot. Ashley has educated me to the point I’ll watch races on television. I’m a heck of a lot better versed than I was five years ago.”
Semi-retired driver Brendan Gaughan, winner of the Xfinity Series’ VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 with Richard Childress Racing in 2014, also appeared as a guest speaker. The Las Vegas resident’s cheering section included some fans – and now friends – from the Dayton area.
“Our sport is about fans and some fans do become friends. It’s amazing when you have a positive attitude you meet a lot more people and have a lot more fun,” Gaughan said.
Kentucky Speedway is one of those fun places for Gaughan, who will drive the No. 62 Beard Motorsports Chevrolet in the Can-Am Duel qualifying races — a pair of 60-lap, 150-mile races that set the field for the Daytona 500 — on Thursday. Gaughan races in the first Duel and starts 16th on the 20-car grid.
All 40 cars in the Duels are guaranteed a spot in the 40-car Daytona 500 field on Sunday.
“I’m excited. I think we have a great Chevrolet and we could be something to watch,” he said. “Let’s put it this way: I do my fantasy racing show and I have myself on my fantasy racing team.
While Daytona is the pinnacle of stock car racing, Kentucky’s 1.5-mile, tri-oval isn’t far behind on Gaughan’s list.
“If there are two tracks that I could still race — that are currently not on my schedule — it’s California Speedway and Kentucky Speedway. This track means so much to me, and not just that win on that day,” Gaughan said. “There’s only two tracks I’m going to miss. That’s Kentucky Speedway and California Speedway. They’re both very near and dear to my heart. It wouldn’t take pulling many teeth to come to a truck race for this place.”
Kentucky Speedway general manager Mark Simendinger announced the track has a unique promotional event for the Buckle Up In Your Truck 225. According to the Kentucky Office of Highway Safety, pick-up trucks are twice as likely to flip during a crash. Statistics show 79 percent of truck drivers fasten their seat belts, 10 percent lower than those who drive cars.
To help improve those numbers, Kentucky Speedway has provided law enforcement officers with vouchers for two tickets to the truck race. Officers who make traffic stops can reward drivers with the vouchers if they are wearing their seat belts.