Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Confessions of a Suddenly Lost DEI Fan

Last Tuesday, Martin Truex Jr., along with Michael Waltrip Racing, announced that the current EGR driver now has plans to drive for the 2-time Daytona 500 winner’s team next season. EGR, as you know, is the result of the Dale Earnhardt, Inc/Ganassi Racing partnership that occurred earlier this year. As far as the other EGR driver, Juan Pablo Montoya, his contract with Ganassi Racing (this did not change when the partnership took place) takes him to at least 2011 with the team. Do you see where I am going here?

So, the question that I pose to you, faithful DEI fans, is this: Who do we cheer for now?

When a racing team is wiped from existence due to economic downturn, the suspicious mixing of 2 prescription drugs, the loss of manufacturer support, not being able to race enough to even come close to the top 35 in owners points (and any other of the countless reasons why teams in 2009 have had to call it quits) — it becomes a sad time for all of those mourning their losses. Sad for DEI fans, especially. With all of the loss that this team has encountered over the past 8 years, it is a wonder that I have stuck around long enough to see it all progress to this. The moment for me is a difficult one, since I have been a DEI fan mainly because of association (yes, a large part to why I am a fan is in part that I have a family member who has worked there for many years). As I have watched this sport change over the years, I have come to realize that it is very tough to be a “true” fan of one specific driver for very long. The reasons will need to be listed, since it could get quite confusing:

Reasons why it is tough to be a “true” fan of one specific driver (for very long):

1. Good today, unpredictable tomorrow – Jeff, Carl, Kasey... Where did you guys go?!
2. Constant change of sponsorship — The days of a steady sponsorship deal are just about numbered (for all of you with the #8 Bud car tattooed on your tush...)
3. Lost in the shuffle of a new number — Poor Clint Bowyer fans, I bet you though he would be carrying your favorite Jack forever! I am sure that 07 CB hat has a nice dust bunny family living on it now...
4. He got married...had a kid...and gained 30lbs — For the ladies out there who were hung-up on their dreamboat of a driver... “He ain’t what he used to be”
5. They’ve gone over to the “dark side” -- Dale Jr fans, need I say more?
6. The mugshot isn’t as cool as the in-car camera — The “Do you know who I am?!” behavior has caused not only embarrassment for the team owner, but for the fans, too. (We can only make so many excuses for your off-track performance...)
7. The Retired or The Lost – Whether you were a Rusty Wallace fan or a Dale Earnhardt fan, you miss cheering their names.
8. Slap Fights – During a race, your favorite driver was spun out by their teammate – after the race, that favorite driver of yours decides to throw a “made you blink” air punch at his teammate – leaving you wondering why you cheered for him in the first place.
9. Team changed manufacturers – For the Chevy lovers…a Toyota just isn’t the same.
10. They just can’t win – Plain and simple.

As I have racked my brain for a full week, I cannot shake the thought that I will follow into a new season of racing, and not have a favorite. Can a fan just watch a race without the expectations of their favorite winning? As I type this, I am remembering the last few years of my life where I have watched (and listened – thanks to TrackPass scanner) every weekend and been disappointed with the outcome of many races…too many. The most interesting and exciting races have been those where some crazy things have happened and have lead to first wins, streak breakers, and championships won. As I look at the list above, I can’t help but think that these are the things that most fans love to see and hear about. It is like reality TV…most people deny that they watch it, but are secretly addicted to it.

If you can stick with “your driver” for a period of time (as every driver has their bad days…and their REALLY bad years), then I commend you – for this sport is full of unexpected turns…regardless if they are always turning the wheel to the left.

So, DEI fans, who will you be cheering for next year? Will you stick with Truex Jr. and follow him to MWR? Fall back on Dale Jr? Or will you be waiting for another young Earnhardt from the Nationwide Series…?


Friday, July 10, 2009

Did you know?

It seems that 2009 is the year of changes and it is no different here at Press Pass.

As some of you may have noticed things have been shaken up a bit when it comes to our products. Everything we are doing this year is bigger and better. There are multiple levels added to our autograph and memorabilia card programs and later this month we are releasing our first ever high end product Press Pass Showcase.

And I am about to offer up a crazy idea that just might change the way you look at trading cards. When you are ripping through Press Pass 2 why don’t you take the time and read some of the interesting facts that are on the back of the base cards?

Press Pass 2 is a great product to do this with because if you are like me, a novice NASCAR fan, it will allow you to learn more about the drivers, the teams and more about the Nationwide series and the Truck series.

Don’t get me wrong I love opening a pack and seeing a great memorabilia card or nice autograph card, but once all the packs are opened I sort the base cards and then sit down and read the back of the cards. I learn something new with every product.

For example did you know that Jeff Burton recently did a guest spot on General Hospital? Or did you know that Carl Edwards has been a licensed pilot since the age of 17? Or that Sam Hornish Jr. is the narrator of “Roary The Racing Car,” a cartoon on PBS Kids Sprout?

You never know what you might learn if you just take the time to stop and look at the base cards.


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Showcase sneak peek

So working at Press Pass means every now and then getting to be a part of some fairly interesting and unique cards. Here's an example of some of the live cards that are part of the super premium Press Pass Showcase 2009 release. These are the Carl Edwards Prized Pieces Melting level memorabilia cards. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Machines or Magic?

So there you sit, anxiously awaiting the arrival of your boxes of Press Pass Series 2. It’s been a few days since you last ripped some packs. You crave that feeling of excitement and anticipation that you get when you tear open a pack and find that Dale Jr. auto or over-sized autographed Tony Stewart memorabilia card. Ah, the joy of ripping wax.

To many of us, there are few things that compare to the insatiable pleasure of opening packs of trading cards. But have you ever wondered how those packs are made? Where do those shiny packages full of so much joy come from? Is it magic? I used to think so, and for those of you who are absolutely convinced that the trading cards you buy are packaged far away on the enchanting "Isle de Collectia" by magical elves, please stop reading now or may your visions of grandeur be forever tarnished.

It’s hot. The thermometer on the dash of the rental car shows an exhausting 105°. This is a place where thin blades of scorched grass crumble beneath your feet as you walk and the tar from the asphalt turns to liquid. Welcome to summertime in Dallas, Texas. Yes, the “Isle de Collectia” is actually a 300,000 sq ft facility on the outskirts of Big D. This is where the “magic” happens.

Charlotte, NC to Dallas, TX 1,026 miles

After the cards are designed, built, approved, and printed. They’re sent to this facility for “pack-out” where a Press Pass representative flies down from Charlotte to oversee everything and ensure each card, pack, and box are as perfect as possible.

Production Facility

First, all of the various base cards, inserts, autographs, and memorabilia cards are loaded into feeders on a production line. Throughout production, the feeders are constantly monitored and reloaded to keep everything running smoothly.

Top view of a card feeder on a production line

The feeders drop the cards at various insert rates onto a moving line. Each feeder is timed to drop its card(s) at exactly the right moment. Several tests are done prior to production to ensure that each feeder is dropping the right cards at the right time.

View of a trading card production line in action

The line quickly whisks the groups of cards down the line and into a machine that wraps and seals each pack.

Cards entering the wrapping machine

After the cards are wrapped, the packs pass across a scale which is designed to weigh each pack and catch any packs that have too many or too few cards before they go into the boxes.

Packs are weighed as they pass through the production line

From there, packs are sorted, shuffled, and inserted into the boxes by hand. Boxes are placed on a conveyor belt where they are shrink-wrapped and placed into cases.

Finished boxes being shrink-wrapped

After that, it’s pretty simple. The cases are shipped to customers, and then the fun begins!

Now that you have an idea of how the products you enjoy are made, you can appreciate them even more. Oh, and as for how we get actual signatures on the autograph cards without using sticker – well that truly IS magic.