A question that everyone gets asked during their lifetime is “what do you do for a living?” When your answer is event producer for various NASCAR opening ceremonies, you usually receive a few additional questions. While the most recurring questions are “have you ever met Dale Earnhardt, Jr.?” and “can you get me tickets?” the third most popular question is “what does that mean?” Well, where do I begin…?
The quick answer you give to strangers in the airport is that you help each track promoter plan and execute the activities happening on the race track prior to the green flag. What the stranger doesn’t always realize is that the planning process for next year’s event can sometimes start the day after the checkered flag is waved. Certain elements such as flyover approvals, talent bookings for pre-race concerts, and stage signage designs simply take time. As the planning process gets under way, the event producer also creates what is commonly referred to in our business as the “minute by minute.” This document is the schedule of events for the day which is literally timed out to the second. We receive several of our cues during opening ceremonies from the broadcast television network so it is essential that we have back-timed all of the prior activities into those dictated times.
Once the plan is created and the date of the event has arrived, the event producer travels to the event to execute the plan as seamlessly and flawlessly as possible. However, none of these event plans would be possible without the support of the opening ceremonies team. Each event that JHE produces typically has the following staff members: announcer manager, audio technicians, operations coordinators and logistics coordinators. The team’s first day on-site usually consists of building the mobile pre-race stage, connecting all audio sources so that fans in attendance and watching at home can hear all of the opening ceremonies, finalizing scripts for the pre-race announcer, and sorting through those last minute details at meetings with the track promoter, NASCAR, and the broadcast networks. The set-up and execution each weekend is somewhat of a routine but each venue can create a unique set of challenges.
The most important part of being an event producer is being able to keep a level head during those chaotic moments prior to the start of the race. Everything doesn’t always go according to plan, but the client and your team are looking to you to lead them through another successful event. You have to be able to react quickly and roll with the punches while properly communicating to your team and the client how the plan has changed. Whether it goes according to the plan or changes to something new, the event producer wants to make sure that the client’s expectations are still met and hopefully exceeded. The most rewarding words you can hear from the client at the end of the day are “We could not have done this without JHE.”
– Lauren Livesay