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Saturday Morning Quarterback
Apr 10, 2007 12:00 am
GLADEVILLE — Arrived at the Nashville Superspeedway for the first race weekend of the season Friday and saw the usual cast of characters.
There was media relations chief Sean Dozier, track boss Cliff Hawks and even Bubba, the cart driver. Tammy Brewington was there, just like the previous 24 weekends over the past six years.
But wait, Tammy was sitting with the rest of the media and PR types, not in the NSS staff media room. She has crossed over.
After six years as Dozier's right-hand girl as the media relations coordinator for the Superspeedway, the Lebanon resident has taken up temporary [at least for this year] shop in Mooresville, N.C., headquarters for Fitz Racing, where she handles public relations for the teams owned by former Goodpasture and Vanderbilt football player Armando Fitz. This weekend, she is handling the PR duties for Mike Bliss, driver of Fitz's No. 22 Dodge, and rookie Ruben Pardo of the No. 44 Dodge.
She's come a long way from her roots in the tiny Franklin County community of Sherwood and Nashville Superspeedway was a long stop on her road to success.
"Working here all these years was great because it sort of laid all the foundation and it afforded me to meet all the people," Brewington told me yesterday in her old office. "So now when I walk into the other side of it, I know everybody. You know the sport. This place was great. I loved it here. I learned so much."
What she's learning now is the travel. Nashville Superspeedway represents two of the 35 stops on the Busch Series tour. Unlike most of the other members of the NASCAR traveling road show, she has actually gotten to sleep in her own bed this week instead of in a motel.
"The travel is hard sometimes because you're not home a whole lot," Brewington said. "This time I get to stay here nine days. I tell people now 'Home is like a vacation'.
"[But] it is so fun going to all these different tracks. Vegas and California and all these tracks I always wanted to go see."
She didn't go to Mexico because Mexico City-native Carlos Contreras, a road-course specialist, was the only Fitz driver in the race and he had his own PR person who speaks Spanish, which the others don't. But she may have to take a crash course in French as the Busch Series goes to Montreal for the first time later this year.
"I just heard the city's beautiful," Brewington said. "We're hearing they're really going to roll out the red carpet."
Montreal bears little resemblance to Franklin County, where her dad, Jimmy Garner, a former minor-league pitching coach, was a baseball coach. She spent her childhood on the diamonds during the summer and watched on TV whatever was in season.
She also had her feminine side which she expressed in writing little love novels. But her dad turned her away from becoming the next Danielle Steel when he wanted more publicity for his baseball teams. He introduced her to the term 'press release'.
"He said, 'You're always writing these love stories and poems and this 11-year-old girl stuff'," she said. "I said, 'What's a press release?' He told me so I did and I took it to the little newspaper [Winchester Herald-Chronicle] and they loved it and they actually started using them. That was kind of cool.
"I just always loved to write and I started writing for this tiny newspaper you've never heard of covering football; it's not in existence anymore," Brewington said of the old Sewanee Messenger. "And then the racing started taking off."
She started writing for Terrell Davis [another regular around the Superspeedway, though I didn't see him yesterday] of Middle Tennessee Racing News. And then Dover Downs built Nashville Superspeedway.
"It was a perfect fit that I would come here," said Brewington, who moved to Lebanon to attend Cumberland Junior College and met her husband. "One of the guys who was working at Dover suggested that I come here. Sean had already been hired and they weren't going to have two PR people. Sean has a really great background in PR, but not in racing and I did.
"It started out part time, helping with the races. And then it just kind of grew from that."
Her husband, Rick, is a developer and is keeping the couple's two dogs and two cats while she is away. They have a daughter and an 18-month-old grandson in northern Kentucky near Kentucky Speedway, another stop on the Busch circuit.
"We talked a whole lot about this before I did it," Tammy said. "He was definitely on board.
"He comes to races when he can. He comes to Atlanta. He comes when they're close and it's nice that we come here twice and race because then I get to stay the whole week because I'm basically doing advance PR."
The 47-year-old said leaving NSS was a difficult, but necessary, move.
"You sort of learn everything you can at one particular job and you probably need to move on and challenge yourself a little more," she said. "It was hard leaving and it's hard coming back in some ways. I didn't know how I was going to feel about coming back because I do miss it but it seems like a long time ago, too."
Life in NASCAR, or any racing or golf or tennis circuit is a world unto itself. When you arrive at a new site, you see the people who live and work there. But you're also with the same folks as at the previous stop, and the next one.
"You're all together, you become really tight with your crew," Brewington said. "I never knew what that was like. Then you bond with all these people because you're with them every week. It's like a family in a sense.
"You eat together, you stay together, you travel together, you're on planes together. You do everything together. You fight like families sometimes, too. Mostly we don't. Mostly it's good."
But she doesn't plan to do this forever. In fact, she hopes to work out of Nashville next year, noting most of her work is done on computer as she pointed to her laptop.
"I may do it again next year if I can base out of Nashville," she said. "I don't want to do it and live away from home anymore."
Sports Editor Andy Reed can be reached at 444-3952 ext. 17 or by e-mail at email@example.com.