Q and A with Jeff Gluck
Image credit: Stewart-Haas Racing Instagram
Jeff Gluck talks with Stewart-Haas Racing's Kevin Harvick at California Speedway last Friday.
By Dominic Aragón
March 20, 2014
USA Today’s Jeff Gluck is known for his reporting and his tough questions during press conferences. The mic got turned on Gluck, as he recently talked with The Racing Experts.
Dominic Aragon: For those who don’t know who Jeff Gluck is, tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do.
Jeff Gluck: “I cover NASCAR for USA Today. This year, I’m going to 27 races, I think I usually go between 27 and 30 races.
“I’ve been covering [the sport] eight seasons. I definitely didn’t grow up a NASCAR fan. Actually, I didn’t even know what it was when I was growing up. When I was in college, I thought ‘this is stupid, its cars going around in circles,’ and I never got into it until I got an assignment to go cover my first race.
“[I covered] the last Rockingham race in 2004. I was working for a small newspaper in eastern North Carolina at the time, and my boss said ‘you should go cover this NASCAR race.’ I was like ‘I don’t want to cover that.’ He said ‘no, you need to be well-rounded and cover all sports, you never know when you need to know that stuff.’
I went, not knowing anything about it, and I was blown away by the whole experience. The access you get, the speed of the cars, and how big everything was—I was immediately wrapped up in it, and started going to as many races as I could to cover them. From that point on, I wanted to be a NASCAR writer.”
DA: Did you ever try your hand at racing?
JG: “No, only after I got into NASCAR did I try go-karts. When I go go-kart racing, which isn’t very often, I’m one of the last few people usually. I’m pretty bad at it; it gives you a new respect for how difficult it is. I’m definitely not a driver.”
DA: Talk about what a typical week is like for you this season.
JG: “Every Thursday, the whole NASCAR industry gets on a plane and goes wherever the race is. You’ll be at Charlotte Airport, at the gate, and it seems like the whole plane is NASCAR people. Some of the teams that don’t have their own jets fly commercial. It’s like the NASCAR school bus.
Friday’s usually the busiest day for media, I’d say busier than race day, because there’s a bunch of practices and qualifying, and they bring a bunch of people in the media center. There are a lot of interviews to do, and you’re running around all day.
Race day, I go to the Tweet Up and the driver’s meeting. [When the] race starts, write as quickly as you can afterwards, and you’re done.”
DA: What are some of the most stressful aspects of your job?
JG: “The most stressful time is when there’s news happening during the week. I don’t get too stressed out at the track, you’re reacting to what’s happening.
“I think the immediacy of breaking news can make things stressful at times. You can be out to lunch, at a movie, the doctor’s office, and if news is happening, it’s immediate; you have to react to it.
“My girlfriend’s been not happy with me several times. One time, we were sitting down at a nice restaurant, and we only were on appetizers, and news broke, was hitting my phone. I looked down, and I was like ‘check please, we’ve gotta go’. We never actually ate, I mean, that’s just how it is. You’re on call, twenty-four seven, because you never know when something’s going to happen.
“Last summer, I was sitting in my apartment at 3 in the morning, writing breaking news, [on Tony Stewart breaking his leg].
“You can say you’re going to take a day off, and have good intentions to, but you just never know what’s going to happen. That’s just part of the job.”
DA: When you are away from the racetrack, and have some free time, what are some of your hobbies or activities you enjoy doing?
JG: “I really like to travel. You’d think ‘I’m on the road so much, [why wouldn’t I want to be] sitting at home.’ I’d rather be traveling somewhere, exploring the world, or seeing somewhere new.
“I also like to play video games. Recently, I’ve started playing Grand Theft Auto with NASCAR fans on Twitter.
“It’s the NASCAR community, just in a different setting.”
DA: You’ve been covering the sport for a long time, and are known for your exceptional writing and interview skills. Is there a possibility sometime down the road we will see you working on TV or radio covering the sport?
JG:: “I don’t know. It’s kind of whoever wants to give you a chance. In some ways, you can try all you want, and you can say ‘I can do this, I can do that,’ but with [those kind of roles,] you have to catch somebody’s eye.
“It’d be different if I came up on TV or something, and then, I was going for that full-time.
I don’t know if that would ever happen, but it would be fun.”
DA: Anything else you’d like to share with us?
JG: “If anybody comes out to the track, I’d really recommend they attend a ‘Tweet Up.’
“It doesn’t really matter who the special guests are… its kind of funny how the fans react to each other. You’re meeting other fans from Twitter. If you’re a NASCAR fan, and want to be a part of the community more, I think it’s a great way to meet people. ”