Friday, December 24, 2004

Chocolate's Last Gas and Go

As a TV Photojournalist in here in NASCAR country, NO, NOT CHARLOTTE but here in the Triad where you will find a myriad of NASCAR race shops and racer's homes, I have had the opportunity to work with most of the NASCAR teams in the area at one time or another.

One of my favorite memories, however, is when I flew to Miami for the last race of 2003.

The event wasn't only the last Winston Cup Race of the year with a tight points race in which Tony Stewart ultimately came out victorious, but it was the last race for a long time veteran of pit road, Danny 'Chocolate' Myers.

For the race at Miami Chocolate was the gasman for the number 31 car driven by Robby Gordon. But from the early 80s to February of 2001 he was the fueler for Dale Earnhardt. After Dale's death Chocolate stayed with the GM Goodwrench team and new driver Kevin Harvick and then later swicthed over to the other Robby Gordon's RCR ride.

Choc' was Dale's alter ego. As much as Dale was a son of a bitch, Chocolate was the humorous, personable, teddy bear. He had a reputation for a long time of being a bad ass, but around the fans he was the one that people could get to when Dale wasn't available.

But after 2 full seasons of fueling the speeding stock cars without Dale, Chocolate decided to retire from jumping the wall.

I flew down on the team plane, stayed with them at the Hotel and traveled to and from the track with the team. It was a great trip.

The 3 minute story that came out of this 2 day journey was full of emotion about a lost hero, but with no regrets about calling it a career.

Chocolate is still busy at RCR however, he is the Director of Safety and the currator the the RCR Racing Museum.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

When I grow up...

It's the quintessential question.
What am I going to do when I grow up?
The childhood memory books that my mom kept up with and I ultimatley took over as I grew older tell me that I wanted to be a Doctor when I was 5, a Firefighter when I was 6 and a Fighter Jet Pilot when I was 7,8,and 9.

When I was 7 I moved to Goldsboro, NC, a town full of figher jets that were stationed at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, so it is no surprise that I used to daydream about one day distracting the local elementary school students with unexpected sonic booms.

I continued my love affair with the fantasy of becoming a Top Gun all the way through high school and into the Wayne Community College Pre-Engineering program until an advanced Calculus Course kicked my ass, two semesters in a row.

It was at that point that I realized that I needed to find a new career field. It found me. And unbeknownst to me it had actually been following me around since I was 7.

My favorite passion in life from an early age was taking pictures. My 4th grade class project was a slide show. I borrowed the school's 35mm SLR and ran around the school snapping endless rolls of film that I had to beg my mom to get developed. I presented my teacher with a slide show yearbook of sorts. It even had a taped narration.

When I was about 11 my Great Uncle came to town with a fancy new machine that captured moving pictures and recorded them on a videotape. WOW! Yes that's me in the tube socks. My first experience with a video camera.

For Christmas of 85 my dad bought the family our first video camera. A full size Magnovox VHS Camcorder. The rule from Dad: "Hands Off! It's not for kids." That directive of course meant that I had to figure out every damned feature that thing had and start making movies. Now we won't go into the exact content of some of those tapes right now, but lets just say they are like a Mastercard commercial, Priceless.

I practiced my skill while my parents were at work or out with friends in the evening and over time I was allowed to used the camcorder with Dad's consent. I used the camcorder for projects in High School and College. There was something intuitive about being able to share my information on a given subject not only with the written word but with visual and audio support.

Another passion of mine growing up was listening to the Police and Fire Departments on a Radio Scanner. My parents had a scanner in the house and I grew up listening to the dispatchers and even made friends with several of them.

My passions of listening to the scanner and videotaping everything within sight finally joined together in late 1992. I was at a local downtown festival and saw a cameraman from a local TV station who was covering the event. I struck up a conversation with him and he opened my eyes to the possiblity of becoming a stringer. That is, taking my Camcorder to wrecks and fires and other possibly newsworthy events and then selling the footage to the local TV stations. That was his story and he had been hired, at least part time at that point, to shoot on the weekends.

I started 'stringing' for that station at various fires and wrecks but a true turning point came in September of 1993. My Mom found an ad in the paper wanting a News Videographer for a local cable show. I applied using my stringer footage from the previous six months and got the job. I was hired as the second full time photographer along side a familiar face; the part time cameraman who had opened my eyes to what I was going to be when I grew up.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Welcome to TVPhotogBlog!

Welcome to the TheTVPhotogBlog!
I am Chris Weaver aka, FTOJRLST and this is my first posting on my first Blog.

Before now I have reserved my writing to message boards such as and Medialine as screenname FTOJRLST. After seeing how happy the whole blogging thing makes my pal Lenslinger, I decided it was time to open up shop. Heck, he even gave me the idea for the title!

Anyhow, I will be posting my daily experiences on here if I have time and think they warrant a story. Mostly I will post pictures from my past 10 years in the news business and relate the stories that goes along with them.
See Ya Later!!!