Setting espionage back 20 years
by Stan Creekmore, NASCAR Editor

January 14, 2003

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[Editor's Note: This is the very first article written for AR1 by Stan Creekmore, our new NASCAR Editor.  Look for his columns on a regular basis]

The former Director of the Winston Cup Series, Gary Nelson, uttered one of the most intriguing statements ever made in my presence. In one of many heart to heart chats, Nelson posed a question concerning the constant attacks on the integrity of those guiding NASCAR.

ďJust because you donít believe what we say, does that mean weíre lying?Ē said Nelson, just two years ago.

The truth in those words is a clear indicator of the adversarial relationship that exists between the print media, the veteran race fan and NASCAR.

Those in the leadership roles at NASCAR have, despite their best efforts, been found guilty before being proven innocent, generally.
Nothing can be farther from the truth.

It takes a keen ear to hear the truth during a weekend of public relation spinning in the Winston Cup garage. Donít think for even a minute NASCAR is the only entity carefully selecting every word uttered before the press.

Fans will be locked out of the garage area, meaning they can't spy for teams

A story, appearing on a Ford website, outlining a rather interesting conversation overheard at Daytona reminded me of just how naÔve the media can be. The author of the piece found it amazing that members of the DEI organization actually spent time tracking a member of another manufacturing camp taking pictures of the competition.

The story was interesting, but cause more than one chuckle as this writer remembers a time not so long ago when Ford paid a couple to take pictures of Chevrolet engines during post-race inspection. Over the course of several weeks, the same couple showed up in post-race inspection, took pictures and then slipped the film to a crewmember from the Ford camp. Each week the couple appeared as guest of a different Ford team, according to their credentials.

Gary Nelson alerted this writer to their presence. NASCAR officials had been tracking the couple for several weeks.

Why mention this matter?

Henceforth, fans will will have to lineup like cattle to have driver contact

The new crackdown on access to the Winston Cup garage will seriously curtail the ability of manufacturers and teams to flood the garage with spies. Innocent looking fans that seem to never ask for an autograph, but take more pictures than the professional photographers covering the sport.

Publicly the teams have all endorsed the crackdown. Privately they have to be thinking that this move will send espionage back 20 years to the days when crew members would lean against a competitors car as a way of measure different shapes and curves.

During the coming year many of you who read the weekly ramblings of this less than humble reporter will swear I have fallen into the mind-altering machinery at NASCAR. It hasnít happened, but at the same time, several years ago I accepted that just because I donít believe something, that doesnít mean it isnít true.

The author can be contacted nascar@autoracing1.com

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