Thursday, June 30, 2011

Beyond the Byline: Getting to know Candice Smith aka Chief187

You might not recognize the name Candice Smith, but if you are an avid reader of Skirts and Scuffs the name Chief 187 probably sounds familiar. This mother of three from New Jersey has a background in education, but now spends her days being called mom and sharing her love of NASCAR and life through words. Today I bring you another Beyond the Byline as we get to know more about the woman who calls herself the crew chief for her family, Candice Smith, aka Chief 187.

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Katy Lindamood (KL): Tell us about your background. Where you grew up, any formal education. What you do for a living.

Candice Smith (CS): I grew up in Montville, New Jersey with happily married parents and two older brothers who are nine and five years older than me respectively. I lived there until I was fourteen. As a freshmen in high school my parents informed me they had found their dream home, a circa 1720s stone house in historic Mendham, New Jersey. My folks were primitive antique collectors so the house was the perfect
place to showcase their collection. It was wonderful for them, but at the time I was devastated. The only thing that saved me was the knowledge that my high school boyfriend was leaving for college so I’d be without him anyway. I made the move a bit begrudgingly, but eventually I made the decision to fit in. Still, I decided to graduate a year early by doing a summer school stint and earned my high school diploma at sixteen. Days after my seventeenth birthday I started my freshmen year of college in the intimate liberal arts school Roanoke College in Salem, Virginia. Four years later, while still twenty, I graduated from college. I studied to be a secondary history teacher and was able to work in that field for a decade before I had my first child. Once I became a mother my husband and I knew I could best serve our family by staying home.

Chief and Racer 187 visited the NASCAR Hall of Fame
and salute the legend Dale Earnhardt.
KL: Your legal name is Candice but online you go by Chief 187. What's the story behind the name and what is the significance of the 187 portion?

CS: Although a writer since I could put pen to paper, I’d never published anything as “Candice Smith”. My first experience writing online was as a blogger on Rowdy.com, a NASCAR social networking site, in May 2007. My husband signed me up and suggested my username “Chief 187” as a counterpart to his
username of”Racer187”. As a vintage racer in the Vintage Sports Car Club of America (VSCCA) my husband was assigned number 187. When he signed up on Rowdy it seemed logical for him to use “Racer187”. When me, his actual crew chief, signed up he had already chosen “Chief187” for me. The rest, as they say, is history! Once I began to make a name as a NASCAR blogger on Rowdy as “Chief 187” I couldn’t imagine writing under my name. In September 2010 I branched out and began an account on blogger to explore other topics besides NASCAR. I quickly gained a loyal following as well as a broad national and international readership. Other writing gigs followed and the pseudonym stuck professionally.


Chief 187 with husband, Racer 187 and children ML187 and GS187
KL: In addition to writing for several sites and hosting a radio show you are the mother of three young children. How do you juggle the day to day routines of being mom and still have time to write?

CS: My children, family and home are the highest priority for me. Once I started writing my inner joy and personal happiness grew exponentially! Writing was the one thing in my life I had been ignoring but desperately missed. My husband, an early riser, taught me that early morning is the best time to get the most done. He and I get up between 4-4:30am to start our day. We both try to work out, he does financial work, emails, etc. and I write and self-promote my work. Once 6am comes around I shift gears, hit the shower, and rouse my children to start our day together. Two of my children are still home with me, which I adore, but it does make it tricky to work; conducting interviews, writing articles, Tweeting and Facebooking my work takes a lot of time and I have to find a balance between my career and my family. My Internet radio work, fortunately, all occurs when my children are sleeping. It makes for late nights for me, and the mornings even earlier, but I so love the work that I cannot imagine giving it up! I’ll sleep another year!


KL: In reading your weekly Why I Love NASCAR columns our readers have learned a lot about you in terms of how you came to follow the sport and your travels to the track. What's the one thing that makes NASCAR stand out from all the other sports out there?

CS: Growing up I was never a sports fan although my father was an avid race enthusiast and amateur racecar driver on the vintage circuit. I was open to trying NASCAR when my husband and I moved to Virginia. We were immediately hooked and never looked back. I enjoyed the forty-three plus personalities that were showcased weekly, the family-oriented presentation, and the drama the rivalries provided. It was also a fantastic way for my husband and I to bond and share a common interest. For us, NASCAR is one of many interests we share, but it is definitely at the top of the list!

KL: You host a radio show. Tell us about the show, what topics you cover and when and where we can hear you.

CS: I was hired to write for a fledgling website called WhooBazooNASCAR as the
season was gearing up for a one off. My first week on the program, “Around the Cooler”, was coming into the Daytona 500. I’ve done every Tuesday night since!

“Around the Cooler” can be heard every Tuesday night on WhooBazoo.com from 8-10pm EST. That show led to a sports show on our sister station Eventlevel.com called “The Final Round Show” which airs from 9-11pm EST on Thursday nights. That show is a looser, more casual format that concentrates one hour of two on Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) and the rest of the show on all other sports including NASCAR. I enjoy doing the show and meeting amazing MMA fighters as well as other fascinating guests like Massachusetts State Senator Brian Joyce. Recently I started doing the Wednesday night program called “The Main Event Show” (8-10pm EST) which highlights Indie Artists from musicians to tattoo artists, magicians to politicos. I enjoy the radio work completely and feel so lucky to be able to work with incredibly talented, funny, intelligent, and entertaining people on both stations.


KL: There are hundreds of NASCAR themed sites why did you choose Skirts and Scuffs?

CS: A dear friend who is a NASCAR cartoonist and writes his own strip called Racetoons (racetoons.com) took an interest in my career back in my Rowdy days. He found me back in January and made it his mission to ignite my fledgling career. He introduced me to the editors of Skirts and Scuffs on Twitter and encouraged me to look at the website. I was intrigued but didn’t think I’d have a chance to write for such a professional site. I was prolific, having written nearly 500 NASCAR blogs on Rowdy and another 100 more on my own personal site. I wanted to be associated with smart, intelligent, knowledgeable, and important women writing about NASCAR. I loved the idea that the creator, editors, and writers were all women and were putting out a quality product consumable for all NASCAR fans, male and female. I wanted to be a part of that world. I simply sent Katy (Lindamood, the creator) a letter requesting a writing position. The Skirts and Scuffs team did their research on me and took a chance. I pitched my idea to write my column “Why I Love NASCAR” by Chief 187. The ladies loved the idea and agreed! I’ve published one each Monday since being hired. I also occasionally write comedic pieces, interviews like Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage, and human-interest NASCAR stories about Apolo Anton Ohno, Richard Marx, and Davey Allison.


KL: You seem like the kind of person who loves a challenge and who is always thinking ahead. What's in the future for Chief 187?

CS: I am keeping all of my options open. I do know I love to write and want to pursue this career to its fullest potential. The radio work is absolute fun and I cannot imagine ever wanting to stop doing that either. Whatever I do, my family will have to continue to be my priority and get the quality time they richly deserve from me. I do feel my career is just beginning so I simply look to the future with wide-eyed wonder and enthusiasm. I hope you all stay with me on my journey!

Candice’s column Why I Love NASCAR appears each Monday on Skirts and Scuffs. You can find her daily blogs on Chief 187 Chatter and follow her on Twitter @Chief187s.

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black polo2 A fan of NASCAR since the age of 12, Katy Lindamood is the Founder/Editor-in-Chief of Skirts and Scuffs. In addition to Beyond the Byline, which profiles the women of Skirts and Scuffs, Katy also writes Deuces Wild, a weekly recap of Penske Racing drivers Brad Keselowski and Kurt Busch. Katy can be contacted via email or through Twitter.

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