October 19, 2010
No, it's not Brian France or Mike Helton - it would have been impossible for them - but a NASCAR executive will appear on CBS' 'UndercoverBoss' on Sunday.
NASCAR chief marketing officer Steve Phelps went incognitoduring the Coke Zero 400 in July. For the race week, Phelps was KevinThomas, a seller and installer of residential water purifier units inBurlington, VT. (Gotta give props to CBS for the attention to detail in Phelps'alias' job description)
Thomas, err, Phelps, was a contest winner doing multiple jobs around the track, including spotting during a Nationwide race.
Previous episodes of the show have shown the boss of Silver Dollar City working maintenance on the park grounds and the CEO of Hooters working in the kitchen at one of the restaurants. For the NASCAR episode, Phelps worked seven jobs, not all with NASCAR, to get a taste of the entire weekend.
From Sports Business Journal: (subscription required)
Phelps said the hardest job he did was working out with the pit crew of the No. 5 car driven by Mark Martin. The crew was doing heat training that day, rotating through one- to two-minute stations of push-ups, jumping jacks, sprints and tossing a medicine ball.
Through it all, one pit crew member named Dion Williams taunted Phelps.
“Come on Ben & Jerry’s,” Williams said because Phelps’s character, “Kevin,” was from Vermont. “Keep it up, Maple Syrup.”
“We put him through the ringer,” Williams said last week. “It was a hot day and we had him running and doing push-ups. He’s an older guy, but he’s in good shape.”
And even though Phelps was picked because he wasn't as recognizable as France or Helton, there were a couple of times that his cover was almost blown.
The most challenging thing for the crew was moving Phelps, a five-year veteran of NASCAR, around Daytona speedway without having anyone expose him and unknowingly become a spoiler. There were two close calls. At one point, Phelps was introduced as “Kevin” to longtime team owner Roger Penske, who obviously would have known Phelps. At another, he was introduced to a group of 43 Nationwide Series spotters who included team owner Richard Childress’ son-in-law, Mike Dillon.
“I was looking at him thinking, ‘What contest did you win?’” Dillon said. “I thought, ‘Oh my goodness, he’s spying on us.’ I was a real good spotter that day.”
The show airs at 9PM ET Sunday, and beware. Your boss could be secretly working for you.
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