Talkin’ Trucks heads into the pits with Ray Dunlap

Each week on SPEED, Ray Dunlap provides
insight into the NCWTS and takes viewers in the pits.
Credit: Debbie Ross for Skirts and Scuffs 
From scuba diving to stolen victories and a roster preview, Ray Dunlap tells his tales from the pits

As the NASCAR season gears up, what better way to preview the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series then to head into the pits with Ray Dunlap, aka @truckpits on Twitter.

Dunlap, a graduate of Bowling Green University, has a Bachelor’s Degree in communications with interests in radio/TV/film. A lifelong race fan, Dunlap took it upon himself to make a career happen.

“I studied radio and TV but was leaning towards being a disc jockey,” Dunlap recalled on his college years. “I didn’t study nearly as hard in TV as I did in production.”

“Being in northwest Ohio, I was a race fan and as a young kid my dad and I would go and sit in the stands. We went to a lot of races. I went to an ARCA race (their headquarters is in nearby Toledo, Ohio) and I just met some people there. I asked who was doing their videos, they said they did not have anyone so I said, "Ya know, I would like to try that.”

After a few races and catching a spectacular crash followed by a fight. Dunlap’s video was airing on Sports Center on ESPN. That evolved and grew into other motorsports coverage and now Ray has been with NASCAR since 1997.

“It’s funny because just a few weeks ago someone asked me if I had any idea how many races I have broadcast. I have absolutely no idea. It would take an incredible amount of effort to try and figure that number out. I have been with the Truck Series now for at least 10 years, so just through that there are probably 300 and some broadcasts."

The numbers of races, hours spent on air and in the air traveling for his job are just mind-boggling but for Dunlap, it is all part of what he enjoys. Rain causing his flight to be delayed, that is just a part of the business.

With the hectic travel schedule racing presents, Dunlap manages to find time for a rather unusual hobby and probably the most interesting hobby I have seen in a while. Golf? No, come on, guess again. Tennis? Nope. Scuba diving. Ray is an avid diver, has dived in 9 different countries and aspires to dive at the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.

“It is one of my favorite things. Brendan Gaughan (driver for RCR) is much more experienced and heavy duty then I am. He and I have had some fun travels and what is great about it is that most have to figure out when to do their hobbies in our little bit of an offseason. Scuba fits in great because when it is winter here, it is summer elsewhere.”

Planning a trip in between Daytona and Martinsville, Dunlap looks to scuba diving as his form of relaxation away from the hustle and bustle of racing.

Talkin’ Trucks:

“…I’ve spent the last couple days looking over our roster for the season and boy, I’ll tell you, it’s just fantastic! It’s really got an opportunity to be the best season yet,” Dunlap said of the upcoming season, which is just days away.

“To supplement that, Kevin Harvick is only scheduled to run three races and we are not sure yet, but there is a chance that Kyle Busch might not run any. Those guys had stolen away a lot of victories from the other competitors in the last two to three seasons.”

Chatting with Dunlap about the prospects for this season, we discussed the Truck rookies. From Dakoda Armstrong and Paulie Harraka t Ty Dillon and Ross Chastain, the 2012 Rookie of the Year battle is set to impress.

“You also have to look at Max Gresham. I did an interview at their shop (Joe Denette Motosports) a few days ago and I asked him his expectations. He said to win a championship is top of the list, Rookie of the Year would be okay.”

“There is also the list of unproven winners – Parker Kligerman, James Buescher, Piquet, Paludo, those guys who we thought were very close to getting their first win a year ago and just haven’t done it yet. There is an incredible door open for people to get their first win in 2012.”

Halloween is always a great time for the Truck Series crew. Ray and Phil
look good in dresses, don't they? 
With all the experience Dunlap has in the pits, I asked what his most bizarre moment was. I was surprised to hear nothing jumped out at him. Then again, he is not the one who gets cake smashed in his face. Of course, he has dressed in some outrageous costumes for the Halloween episodes. Remember this?

A new Code of Conduct:

As part of his work for SPEED, Dunlap occasionally writes for on various topics. Last Novemeber he addressed a hot-button topic: the behavior of drivers in NASCAR. He called for a new code of conduct amongst drivers. The code of conduct article struck a cord with me. Really it is as simple as Dunlap says: "Just act like your parents taught you to act." That is simple, right? Well apparently not with the behaviors we often see and what sometimes we want to cover the ears of the children in the room to keep them from hearing. So I asked Ray to elaborate on this.

"The bottom line is the change in society. And with social media, that is all something we have to be aware of.  I just felt for a long time that we were slipping away from some of those core values that the guys need to be aware of. My biggest point to the whole thing was the radio communication. I think it has gotten out of hand and is a detriment to the sport. It is not that hard to fix."

A solution for the potty mouths heard on NASCAR scanners round the world is simple according to Dunlap; hit them where it counts, the wallet.

Credit: Debbie Ross for Skirts and Scuffs
"Team managers could fix it, NASCAR could fix it and for sure the FCC could fix it. With just a couple of fines all those guys would say hmm, really? I do not want to point fingers, but they are 4 to 5 drivers who are incredibly bad at this and spoil the whole bunch, I just do not think it is that hard to fix. 

Dunlap also addressed in his Code of Conduct the Pandora's Box issue with the a"Boys have at it" policy. Perhaps the greatest display of "have at it" was in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series last season, ala Kyle Busch versus Ron Hornaday. 

"To me anything that any driver has retaliated [over], I think there is some form of remorse. You just need enough of a deterrent so they do not cross the line and I think Kyle Busch getting suspended and Kurt Busch losing his job opened up these guys' eyes enough to say, 'Holy moley this is serious business!'" Dunlap continued, "It's a high- adrenaline sport, there is always going to be times where someone loses their mind. People laughed at me because that was my question to Kyle after he came to do the interview. After he stepped back and reexamined it, he realized he made a bonehead move and that it was going to cost him. Well, it cost him dearly." 

Best memory:

“One of the most amazing things that I have ever been a part of was when Carl Edwards won at Daytona. He won that race, by far the biggest moment of his life, and made one of those notches on the checklist of catapulting his career to where it is today: he gave away the trophy to a young man that had been his guest there in victory lane. He (Josh) had cancer and Carl gave him that trophy and I was just overwhelmed at the selflessness that he had that day. Most people that would be something you would wrap your arms around and take to bed, kiss it and never let it go. I just stood there and thought, ‘Did that really happen?’ It was overwhelming.”

Dunlap kicks off another season on NASCAR Camping World Truck coverage for SPEED in just a few days and with all the stories happening this offseason, the season is full of excitement. Tune into SPEED on February 24th at 7pm EST, as Ray and all the SPEED family kick off another exciting season. 
Talkin’ Trucks heads into the pits with Ray Dunlap Talkin’ Trucks heads into the pits with Ray Dunlap Reviewed by Unknown on Friday, February 17, 2012 Rating: 5