Gluck: 20 years of NASCAR coverage

I know him, you all know him, we all know him. The man who brought us the Was It A Good Race poll, the iconic Quiet Track picture after every race, and the famous 12 Questions column, Jeff Gluck celebrates his 20th year covering NASCAR, with his first being the 2004 Subway 400, the final race at Rockingham. One of the more well known NASCAR journalists in the industry, Gluck is up there with the greats like Tom Higgins, Steve Waid, Ed Hinton, and Bob Pockrass just to name a few. 

As a kid who grew up in southwest Missouri and the only NASCAR fan in my grade, Twitter (now known as X) was one place where I could connect with many other people to share our love for the sport we call NASCAR, and one person who jumped on the Twitter Train at first was Gluck back in 2009. For me, Gluck was one of the people I followed to get me closer to the action, and occasionally would help me follow the race during school if there was a Monday race. 

They say don’t meet your heroes, and I for one can say I lucked out on having a good one in Jeff. In fact, Jeff, along with other greats like Pockrass, Dustin Long, and Jenna Fryer, were the people I looked up to when I was in high school, dreaming of having a career like them when I get older. 

During the fall of 2022, I was covering the NASCAR weekend at Texas for Speedway Digest, a 20 year old kid who barely had any money for his flight to Fort Worth, taking an Uber to the track and back because he was too young to rent a car, just living the dream and having a ball I was even there. That Sunday of the race, I was in the Press Box at TMS when a voice from someone that was an icon of mine asked me a question. 

“Thinking about sitting down there?” Jeff asked me, as I was looking for a different view of the track than I did the day before during the Xfinity race.

“Yeah, just trying to get a view where I can see the whole track,” I replied back thinking, “Holy crap, Jeff freaking Gluck is talking to me. Wait till Dad hears this!”

From there, Jeff asked who I was working for, where I was from, and other small talk. I told him I was working at a newspaper in my hometown covering high school sports and putting in my NASCAR work from time to time. He then told me that that’s exactly how he started out and told me more about how he came to where he is today, saying I’m on the right track on a path to great success in this industry. 

Imagine if you were a big Jeff Gordon fan and all of a sudden he’s telling you you’re doing a great job? That’s exactly how I felt at that very moment. Jeff then handed me his phone and said, “Type in your number that way we can stay in touch,” something that I never even DREAMED would happen in my life. 

After Texas, my next race wouldn’t be til the Daytona 500 race weekend just last year. Again, just a young/dumb kid with barely any money in his account, once again ubering to and from the airbnb I stayed at to the track, I was in my happy place. 

After Stenhouse captured his first Daytona 500 victory, I walked out to the track when the place was empty and the day looming into the next, just appreciating where I was and what an awesome experience I had this week. 

I sent Jeff a lengthy text message, just saying thanks for everything he did for me that weekend. 

“Didn’t see you in the media center, but I just have to say thanks again for the rides this weekend and for letting me tag along with you and Davey (Segal) to go watch the flyover. Appreciate you taking me under your wing when it comes to this stuff. Hope to see you at Kansas!”

I then get a reply that says…

“Sorry man! You still around? I can give you a ride. I’m walking out now.”

A ride? What does he mean by a ride? 

Well, what Jeff meant by a ride was driving towards Orlando and dropping me off at my AirBnb (which was a good 30 minutes from the track), that way I wouldn’t have to Uber back and spend any money. 

Let me tell you folks, that 30 minute drive was one I still remember to this day. It was an awesome experience that I for one still can’t believe happened. Why? Because not only was I getting a free ride back with Jeff Gluck, I was able to pick his brain and ask him questions and learn more about how to be a better journalist. 

One thing still sticks out that he said, a word of advice that I still do to this day. 

“Always invest in yourself. If you keep showing up to the track and keep being a familiar face, you’ll get your shot soon enough.” 

So simple yet so meaningful. That word of advice, as well as the other conversations we had on the drive to the AirBnb, is something that I will cherish forever. 

Since then at every race that I attend, there’s always Jeff coming over to say hi to me, asking if I’m wanting a ride to the Press Box, and a chance to talk about life, racing, and everything in between. 

Not just a great Motorsports Journalist, not just a guy with a great racing podcast on Dirty Mo Media, and not just a great follow on X (formerly known as Twitter), but a genuinely great human being to be around. 

Jeff, thank you for not only being one of the best journalists in the business, but for being an amazing friend to one of your biggest fans. 

Kaleb Vestal
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