Jay Howard says the key to his company’s success is straddling the edge of disaster to deliver a fan spectacle just before the green flag falls.
“We’ve found our niche in NASCAR by putting a whole lot of things where they aren’t supposed to go,” Howard said on the latest NASCAR on NBC podcast, “and getting rid of them before (NASCAR vice chairman) Mike Helton keys our radio channel.”
JHE Production, which was founded by Howard in 1988, handles the prerace shows and driver introductions for all Sprint Cup and IndyCar races except Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Planning can take months for some of the most elaborate extravaganzas, such as the Daytona 500 and Sprint All-Star Race. It often means moving heavy equipment and choreographing the actions of hundreds in short windows of time with razor-thin margins before a race begins.
“I just like doing it,” Howard said. “I found that I got chill bumps from good events. I think everyone in the hospitality or live delivery business, you have to get a rush from the end product.”
Other topics discussed by Howard on the podcast:
–How JHE Production designed the NASCAR America stage for full “immersion” on the grid just before a race;
–The “goose bump moments” that make a good prerace show;
–The NASCAR events that have worked well … and one that didn’t;
–The mechanics of assembling a minute-by-minute schedule.
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Here are time cues for easy references while listening to the episode: