NASCAR's Kevin Conway - On The Fast Track
by Bridgetta Tomarchio on Saturday, February 18, 2012
Faster than a speeding bullet, faster than a bolt of lightning, Kevin Conway's dreams as a child to be like Superman have sort of come true. No he’s not completely super human though he’d like to think so. Kevin Conway is known worldwide as the Extenze NASCAR Driver, won NASCAR’s Rookie of the Year, and now has started a motocross/supercross team so you may even catch him in part of the upcoming X Games. I got a chance to sit down and chat with him amongst his busy schedule. Hey, I do have some clout as you may have seen us together in the infamous late night tv commercials for Extenze!
BT: When did you realize you wanted to be in professional racing? Was this always a dream of yours?
KC: My parents bought my first three-wheeler for me when I was three so that definitely started the "dream". From there I started racing motocross and progressed through the motorsports ranks, once I started racing I never imagined doing anything else.
BT: You won Rookie of the Year last year, how does that feel to know you're acknowledged for all your hard work?
KC: It was somewhat surreal - you work your entire life just to have an opportunity to drive in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, and win the Rookie of the Year Championship, to be along side legends such as Dale Earnhardt, Jeff Gordon, Richard Petty in the records books forever is very cool. So many people have helped me along the way that I feel it was very rewarding for everyone.
BT: What does your family think? Are they supportive? Do they freak out before your races?
KC: My family is very supportive. My dad came to every race and was a huge part of my success. He never missed a race until he was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2006 and passed away in 2007. I feel like my mom has a love hate relationship with the sport, she loves to see me have the opportunity to do what I love and what makes me happy, but at the same time she hates the dangers involved.
BT: What is your ritual to prepare for a race??
KC: I don't really have a ritual. I'm not a very superstitious person so for me it's more about mental preparation, making sure your mind is in the right place and focusing on the race and visualizing success.
BT: How many races do you do a year? You have a crazy schedule, yes?
KC: We have the longest season of all professional sports -starting in February and going through the end of November. It's a grueling 36 race schedule packed into 10 months. I think we have two weekends off all year. It's intense.
BT: Being in a different city each week, must be invigorating on the body, what do you do to relax and have fun?
KC: Unfortunately on the road we don't get to relax too much as our schedules are always filled with sponsor appearances, media events, etc. But, I still try to make down times in my schedules just for sanity. I love getting a good workout in, grabbing a dinner at local restaurant and maybe catching a movie. Sounds boring but when you drive race cars for a living it's a nice change of pace.
KC: I feel like I have stayed in a hotel or bus more of my life than I have a house! So you name it, I've experienced it when it comes to hotels, the good, the bad and the ugly. Once of my favorite hotels is Dream New York City. It has a cool classical chic feel and it's not a new creation, but modern creativity breathed into a historical structure.
BT: Back to racing, how do you stay energized through a race?
KC: A lot of people don't realize the physical conditioning that racecar drivers have to do. We are similar to other endurance athletes but for us, the cars can reach temperatures above 140 degrees inside, we wear fireproof everything which does not breath at all while pulling a couple of G's every 10-15 seconds for three hours with no half time or time outs, while driving at the absolute limit. With that kind of intensity, it's important for us to stay in top shape, eat right and stay properly hydrated. Fortunately, we are able to have in-car drinking systems that keep us hydrated during the races. But it's still grueling.
BT: Racing has changed a lot in the past few years as far as safety with the tragic losses that have occurred. Tell us about what safety changes were made and how they affect you
KC: I feel that NASCAR has made the greatest strides over the past few years in terms of safety than almost any other sport. There have been more innovations to not only the racecars, but also the racetracks themselves and our personal safety equipment. NASCAR designed an entirely new style of race car that incorporated many new safety features, the racetracks have installed an energy absorbing barrier systems, and the mandate of a head and neck restraint for the drivers has significantly increased the safety of our sport. We have seen wrecks in the past few years that without the advances in technology and the new NASCAR rules, would probably not be survivable or at least not with out serious injury where the drivers walked away.
BT: Obviously we have worked to together on our infamous Extenze commercials, how did you first get involved with Extenze? What were some of people's reactions when you first took them on as a sponsor?
KC: I got involved with Extenze through a cold call basically. My business partner at the time knew one of company and said let's talk to them; they were at a point of transition where they were starting to focus more on retail and NASCAR made sense for them. It was definitely unique at first but I was excited that we were able to represent their category in a mainstream way without it being awkward or cheesy. I think the NASCAR program has been a great success for their brand.
BT: What was your first Extenze shoot like?
KC: My first commercial was definitely a little tough, I mean the subject matter is serious but there are a thousand puns that go along with it. So once everyone got the high school humor out of the way, it was down to business. Definitely one of the most memorable moments of my career.
BT: Where is the most elaborate hotel (anywhere in the world) that you have ever stayed in and what set it apart from the others?
KC: The Hilton Bora Bora Nui Resort and Spa is a great hotel that has so much character and the over the water bungalows are amazing. The teak hardwoods everywhere and the location in the South Pacific give it a very unique and cool vibe.
BT: When you travel to Las Vegas, where is your favorite place to stay and why?
KC: I'm a big fan of the The Palms Casino Resort and ARIA Resort and Casino. Both places are very cool, have great restaurants and good nightlife. Most of the time I spend in Las Vegas is work related but it's a great city when you can just go and have fun!
BT: Tell us about your new motocross team.
KC: Back in October of 2011 it was an idea that we were discussing and then we made the commitment to do it and everything happened really fast. We were able to partner with Mike Kranyak who has won two Championships as a team owner and has had some of the best riders in the world. It was a no brainer for me to become a partner with Jeff Ward, Mike Kranyak and Lucas Mirtl to form Jeff Ward Racing. We are racing in the AMA Supercross and Motocross Series with DNA Energy Drink and Kawasaki.
BT: Why did you decide to start it? Did you ride bikes in the past?
KC: Having started my career in motocross it is a sport that I have always had a passion for and followed. When I had the opportunity to partner with 10-time AMA Champion and one of my childhood heroes, Jeff Ward, it was an easy decision. For me, its a great platform to get back to my roots so to speak and bring some of the knowledge from the business side of NASCAR to Supercross and build a foundation to allow our marketing partners to tap into NASCAR, Supercross and even X Games.
BT: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and where would you stay?
KC: My favorite spot would have to be either Australia or Turkey. Both are very different in their own right but the Gold Coast has great surfing, scuba diving and awesome hotels. Turkey has so much history and is architecturally beautiful.
BT: Where can fans go to follow your race schedule, appearances, updates, etc? ?BT: Okay Kevin, thanks so much for meeting with Hotels of the Rich and Famous!
For More Kevin Conway:
Also, you can keep track of Jeff Ward Racing online at: www.jeffwardracing.us
Tags: famous hotels, celebs, hotels, kevin conway, nascar, dale earnhardt, jeff gordon, dream new york city, hilton bora bora nui resort and spa, the palms casino resort, aria resort and casino, las vegas, bridgetta tomarchio
Created on: 02/18/12 | permalink Share this article: