Back in the early 1990's, Chuck Howard came into thousands of Western New York homes via their television screens as a sports reporter at WIVB-TV in Buffalo.
Today, Howard, a native of the Cattaraugus County community of South Dayton and a veteran television sports journalist and producer, is watched on a much more national scale as a news producer/reporter for NASCAR Media Group. He was here this weekend working his craft. He remembers his area roots well.
"I worked with Van [Miller] and the boys at Channel 4 from 1990 to 1995," recalled Howard, a Fredonia State graduate in 1986. "I got the sports director job at WCNC television in Charlotte in 1995.
"So I was the sports director there for 12 years and then left there four and a half years ago and did a sports talk radio show in Charlotte. And then low and behold through all my NASCAR work over the years, the folks at NASCAR Media Group called me three and a half years ago and I'm now a producer and reporter for the NASCAR News Center which is part of NASCAR Media Group. So I'm still in the middle of it."
Howard works many of the NASCAR Cup Series races each season and stays very busy. He just completed a deal to do a show during this fall's final ten race Chase for The Cup on the New England Sports Network (NESN) starting the week of Sept. 17.
"I go to about 15 of what I call the marquee races," Howard said. "We do preview reports and race recaps for several companies and we also provide NASCAR's public relations division with driver interviews to send out to television affiliates. It's going really well."
Despite being away from Western New York for several years, Howard still keeps up with area happenings.
"I read The Buffalo News on-line everyday to check on things and actually just spent the last three days with mom in South Dayton. I also found out that you can't beat Western New York weather, especially this time of year. But in January, I'll take Charlotte."
Helping the hundreds of media members here this weekend is Tonawanda native Elizabeth Mayer who has joined The Glen's full-time staff this season as the public relations director. Her responsibilities keep her hopping the year around.
"My primary responsibilities are handling credentials for all the events that we have," said Mayer. "I draft press releases and foster relationships with the media that we have here."
She has definite impressions from working her first NASCAR Cup Series weekend here.
"So far so good. I like it. It's crazy. You get to meet a lot of people that I've heard about or read about or see on line. I'm helping people find things. It's been a learning experience," Mayer said.
"I graduated from Kenmore East High School and went to college at Ithaca College where I majored in sports media in their health sciences and human performance program. I graduated in 2007. I ended up at The Glen. I've been here as a fan a bunch of times. I was looking for a job and I found this job on line and applied."
Mayer also is working with Kristen Kaszubowski, a Lake View native, who is interning this summer. Kaszubowski is a senior at Ithaca College, majoring in communications with a minor in sports studies. She graduated from Immaculata Academy in 2009. Mayer and Kaszubowski join Watkins Glen president and Hamburg native Michael Printup as Western New York natives working in The Glen's front office.
"Western New York is definitely represented in our office, both from the Northtowns and the Southtowns so I guess we're slowly taking over here," laughed Mayer.
Former Lancaster (now Dunn Tire Raceway Park), Wyoming County and Ransomville Speedway announcer and Clarence native Tim Packman continues to work in NASCAR circles after having moved to the Charlotte area in 2000.
"I have my own public relations company now called Packman Public Relations," he said. "I do contract work for teams that can't afford a full-time person."
Packman was working this weekend with the NASCAR Nationwide Series R3 Motorsports entry and driver Alex Kennedy who finished 23rd in Saturday's Zippo 200.
Packman has also recently authored a book entitled, "Funny Dan -- The Race Car Man".
"The book was inspired by Dan Collins who raced Street Stocks at Dunn Tire Raceway Park years ago," said Packman.
Co-drivers Max Angelelli & Ricky Taylor were the the winners in the Daytona Prototype class of the Canadian Tire 200 for the Grand American Road Racing Association's Rolex Sports Car Series. Th GT class winners were Spencer Pumpelly & Steven Bertheau. Team Sahlen's #42 car finished eighth in GT with co-drivers John Edwards and Wayne Nonnamaker.