Michigan Int'l Speedway news 2009-06-14

An interview with: Kid Rock, LifeLock 400 grand marshal Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz, LifeLock 400 honorary starter Q -- Coach Schwartz, Can you talk about your experiences today? I know you're a big NASCAR fan. Schwartz: This has...

An interview with:
Kid Rock, LifeLock 400 grand marshal
Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz, LifeLock 400 honorary starter

Q -- Coach Schwartz, Can you talk about your experiences today? I know you're a big NASCAR fan.

Schwartz: This has been awesome. I've never had a chance to be in the pits before, listen to the cars warm up in the garage. Man, it's been a really, really cool experience so far. I can't wait for the race to start. I've been doing a lot of cardio recently because they say that when you're up there when those cars start your heart rate goes up to about 200. I'm trying not to have a heart attack. It's been cool so far and I can't wait to finish the day.

Q -- You've had a pace car ride. Can you talk about the experience. I know you're a big short-track fan from your younger days, and maybe a little prediction on how we're going to see the Lions play this year?

Schwartz: We'll pass on those predictions. The pace car ride was awesome. I think I was only up to about 130. For these guys that's nothing. For me I know that will get my heart rate going, also. I grew up on short-track racing. There's a quarter-mile dirt track that's about five miles from my house. We would go on Friday and Saturday nights, probably mostly to drink beer more than anything. Obviously it was a lot different racing. Lot of paint swapping and things like that. This is, obviously, a two-mile track. They're going to get going. It's a completely different style of racing. I can't wait to see it.

Q -- Do you have a favorite driver?

Schwartz: It's hard to root against Joe Gibbs because of his affiliation with the NFL and what he's done and the respect I have for him. I think I know where my bread's buttered. I'm employed by the Ford family so I'm behind all of the Ford drivers today.

Q -- There will be 100,000 people here or more. Ticket sales are down. Your impression of the facility and your impression of Detroit since you've come here?

Schwartz: Detroit has become home for me. I was able to get out to the Final Four with Michigan State being there, and obviously the Red Wings' game seven. When you're talking about a sports town and you have game seven of the Stanley Cup, and you've got a NASCAR race, a Final Four, all that stuff, it's a great place to make my home. It's a great place to call home. I've been in Nashville for the last 10 years, where I really developed my NASCAR sort of following. It's cool when you say about 100,000 people. We'll have a good walk-up crowd today. It's a great day. We'll have a lot of people here today. Like I said before, obviously we're going through some tough times, but tough times don't last. Tough people do. There's tough people in this state, there's tough people in this city and we'll get back on our feet.

Q -- Kid Rock, can you tell us what your experience is going to be like today? I know you're a big race fan, you're good friends with Tony Stewart and what are you looking forward to today?

Kid Rock: I think it's going to be a great day. We're starting out with good weather. It's my son's birthday, so, yes, I'm friends with Tony, Dale (Earnhardt) Jr., Jimmie Johnson, a lot of the guys, Robby Gordon and it's going to be fun. I'm not here because I thought it would be a bad time.

Q -- Last week Kyle Busch smashed a guitar in Nashville Victory Lane. Have you ever smashed anything on stage, broken any instruments? What's the most expensive thing you've broken?

Kid Rock: "The most expensive thing I've ever broke? It was probably something that wasn't mine, I know that. Back in my wilder days I tripped over my turntables. I smashed a guitar here and there and fell through some drums. I've lost jewelry. Probably nothing too serious, though.

Q -- Coach Schwartz what's you favorite Kid Rock song?

Schwartz: Um, Cocky. It's ain't bragging if you can back it up.

Kid Rock (laughing): He even knows the lyrics. He's my man. He's the best coach we've ever had in Detroit.

Schwartz: I just hope you're saying that in about six months.

Kid Rock: things could be worse.

Q -- Coach, can you explain a little bit the similarities between the Lions and NASCAR?

Schwartz: I think there's a lot of similarities between the NFL and NASCAR. Number one, it's a competitive business. Everyone is going through everything they can to get a competitive edge. And nobody likes to lose. I like the way the weeks sort of fall out the same way. You have qualifying and a lot of testing that goes on during the week , all for a Sunday race. Probably 100 hours goes into just going out three, four hours on the track on a Sunday afternoon. So, it's very, very similar there. When you're talking about the loyalty of the fans, you're in some similar neighborhoods, too. I've always been impressed with the loyalty of NASCAR fans. They stay with their teams, they stay with their drivers. They support the sponsors who support their teams and Detroit Lions fans are similar. The short time I've been in this city I can't go anywhere without hearing someone talk about their 35 years as a Detroit Lions fan. I have a summer house on the Eastern shore of Maryland. I was just there this week. The guy that does my pool is a 30-year Detroit Lions fan. It's cool to see that around, the loyalty that sticks with this team through thick and thin.

Q -- Coach, there's always a debate as to whether race car drivers are athletes or not. What's your opinion?

Schwartz: Oh, no doubt. No doubt. You talk about coordination, you talk about reflexes, all those sort of things. These guys have to be in great condition. You can't come out here and go through a 400-mile race and without being in good condition. What they do on Sunday is just a tip of the iceberg of what these guys go through during the week. I got exposed to a little bit of that and it's a grind for these guys to go through during the week. You have to be in good condition mentally, you have to be in good condition physically. No, you can't be a bad athlete and drive one of these race cars, or bad things are going to happen.

Q -- For the both of you. Right now we're not going through the greatest of times. Do you see a sign of hope in anybody's eyes when you talk to them, especially here at the track? People can't get sponsorships and stuff. Do you see that there might be a light at the end of the tunnel?

Kid Rock: I feel it every day. I still live here. I live in Clarkston Michigan. I see a lot of stuff, a lot of my friends, houses foreclosed, losing their jobs, trying to find work. They're embarrassed about it. One thing I've known about this town, the reason why I stay here -- and I could live any where I want in the world -- is because of the people. Because of who they are. It's a hard working town. Great people in it. It's not the first time we've been down. We'll get back up. I'm sure of that. I see hope every day in a lot of people's eyes. You know, my buddies at the race, they're talking about Tony starting his own thing now and especially at a time when it's very difficult to do it. He's doing very well and I think it's like anything else, it's persistence and hard work and doing the right thing when times get tough. That's what I've always seen about Michigan and especially Detroit.

Q -- Have you thought about writing music, of an inspirational type about the times and how hard they are?

Kid Rock: I have a song called the Midwest Farmers I 'm working on. Another one called, In Times Like These. Another one called Care. A whole bunch of them that's really inspiration from everything I see around me. For a lot of years I was just very young and very wild. I talked about drinking and women and fun things like that. But when I got older and my son got older the song business had changed and grown and there's a lot of stuff we're writing now that reflects the times we're going through right now.

Schwartz: A lot of people have said to me over the last six months, 'Hey coach, this is a great opportunity for you.' I've been insistent in saying it's not an opportunity. It's a responsibility. I think we have a responsibility in this town to get this thing turned around with the Lions. Again, I can't keep from saying, there was a sign on our refrigerator when I was growing up that said tough times don't last, tough people do. That's what we're all about.

-credit: mis

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Robby Gordon , Jimmie Johnson , Kyle Busch