Q and A with MRN’s Dustin Long
Dustin Long talks with then-governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2008.
By Dominic Aragon
July 23, 2014
Q: For those who don’t know who Dustin Long is, tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do.
DL: “Wow, that’s a loaded question (laughs).
“I’m the senior writer for Motor Racing Network, on their website, mrn.com. I’ve been covering NASCAR since 1999; most races have been 30 races or so.”
Have you been to all 36 in one season?
“No. I had one year I did 33, that was the closest I ever did. I can’t remember what year that was, but I know I missed three one season. That was a lot (laughs).”
Q: Talk about what a typical week is like during the NASCAR season.
DL: “There’s no such thing as a typical week in one sense, because something happens and you go. And in one sense you’re traveling on Thursday; you get to the hotel and get dinner and then go to the hotel and work the rest of the night.
“And Friday, you’re at the track, and that’s usually a ten-to-twelve hour day at least. And Saturday is a full day [along with Sunday].
“Monday, you fly back, and work the rest of the day. Tuesday, in the office working, and try to get Wednesday off.”
Q: Did you ever try your hand at racing?
DL: “No. My dad did a little SCCA racing when I was reall young but I never got to see him run.
“My brother’s the racer. He races at a local short track in Alabama in a bomber class. He’s been doing that a number of years, and that keeps him busy. Keeps him out of trouble, gets him into all sorts of trouble.”
Q: You recently made headlines at Pocono Raceway getting injured on the job. Talk a little bit about that incident, and how you are doing on your road to recovery?
DL: “I was interviewing Dale Jr. We were walking back from pit road towards the garage.
“[Crew members] were moving cars and equipment back to the garage, so we were weaving through stuff, and we just kind of walked through the garage, and the nearest garage stall was the NASCAR area where they had the laser platform scales.
Photo by Gary Buchanan.
Long talks with Dale Earnhardt Jr. at Pocono Raceway. According to Buchanan, the photo was taken about 30 seconds before Long's fall.
“Junior was on my left and the two of us walked up the platform together. That platform has got some holes in it. I was watching where I was going, but Junior finished answering my question.
“I went to ask the next question, and I turned my head to my left so I could look at him and direct the question to him and when I did that, I took my eye off where I was walking, and walked into one of those holes, and it was probably a foot deep or so and [I] went down.
“At that point, I was just trying to figure out what happened, and I where did all these people come from and why Junior had this horrified look on his face and what was his problem (laughs).
“Everyone helped me up, and I put some weight on my ankle at the time because I didn’t think it was broken, but I could literally feel it blowing up.
“I could feel the swelling. It felt like somebody was blowing up a balloon, it felt like they were blowing up my ankle. I was wondering if I was ever going to get my shoe off because it was getting so large.
“But, I didn’t think the ankle was broken…so I finished the interview before getting medical help. NASCAR called the medics, and they stood around waiting for the interview to end. When it did, they attended to me.
“Then, I was going to the infield care center, and then I had to go to an urgent care center away from the track.”
“I had the offer from MRN to come home and I told them ‘I’m here, I have a job to do, and I’m going to do it. If anybody wants me to go home, they’re going to have to fight me, and now I have crutches.’
“It wasn’t the most pleasurable weekend in that sense, but I was there to do a job and I was going to do it.”
Q: What are some of the most stressful aspects of your job?
DL: “Internal pressure of trying to make each story as good as it can... my job is [for the fans]. I take that responsibility seriously.
“Even if it’s a day I am not feeling well, I’m out here to do a job because I’m here to get the story, the information and tell it to the fans because they depend on me. I don’t want to let them down.”
Taken in 2013 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Long posed with his uncle.
Q: When you are away from the racetrack, and have some free time, what are some of your hobbies or activities you enjoy doing?
DL: “Well, I would say hiking, but now with the broken ankle, I’m not doing much of that (laughs).
“I’m actually starting physical therapy, so that’s good. I’m down to one crutch, so I’ll be shedding that soon.
“I like to read, I enjoy other sports, movies, the arts, traveling.”
Q: You’ve been covering the sport for quite some time, and you’re known for your exceptional writing, authorship, and breaking news. But, is there a possibility sometime down the road we will see you working on TV or lending your voice to MRN Radio covering the sport?
DL: “I do a little bit on MRN with their prerace show, a couple minutes with a news segment I do. You’re not going to hear my voice coming from turn four anytime soon or down on pit road.
“Maybe some things will happen down the road, but right now, I’m just focused on the writing.”