Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Brooksville fire chief's 'working vacation' at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama

BROOKSVILLE

Weighed down by about 20 pounds of equipment and gear, Brooksville Fire Chief Tim Mossgrove will sit patiently for hours in an air-conditioned tool truck this afternoon. The truck will be parked at a far end of a racetrack, which means Mossgrove won't see much of the cars racing around the 2.66-mile tri-oval course at 180 mph, the celebrity drivers like Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson or the more than 150,000 fans in the stands. Unless, of course, there's a serious problem.

Mossgrove will be one of 180 members of the fire crew working the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway today. This will be Mossgrove's seventh year working at the event, one of the largest and most important on the circuit.

"My wife calls it my 'working vacation,' " Mossgrove said, laughing. "And it is a lot of work. But it's not really a vacation."

Mossgrove will be joined in Alabama by a couple of fellow Brooksville firefighters, Mike Dow and Alan Regis.

The position certainly has its share of perks — a ticket to a coveted sporting event, a chance to network with old friends. And occasionally the family can come along to hang out. But the four-day stint in Alabama is far from a break.

Mossgrove was set to arrive in Talladega on Wednesday afternoon, and then immediately immerse himself in training and workshops in preparation for the race and preliminary events. The days often start before sunrise and last well into the night, sometimes as late as 9 p.m.

But every bit of the prep time is necessary at the Alabama track, which is generally known for its unusual speed factor — even in the world of auto racing — and some of the more notable crashes on the circuit.

"You just have to survive there," last year's winner Kyle Busch said at a NASCAR news conference this week, "and hope you somehow stay out of the inevitable big wreck."

That means the firefighters must always be prepared to spring into action — much like in their jobs back home. Once the trucks are arranged around the track for the race, members of the fire crew are readying themselves for the worst — fires and, of course, wrecks.

"We have to be on our game," Mossgrove said. "We're very disciplined in what we do."

Growing up as a racing fan in West Virginia, Mossgrove was dogged in his pursuit of a chance to work a NASCAR event. He first heard about the opportunity a decade ago from an instructor at Florida State Fire College. The instructor was working events at the Daytona International Speedway.

So, Mossgrove immediately went home and filled out an application. He didn't hear back from NASCAR for the next four years.

"I just thought it was a foregone conclusion" that he wasn't going to be accepted, Mossgrove said.

But in the spring of 2002, Mossgrove got a call from Talladega asking if he would be interested. He's been going back every year since.

Mossgrove said he's probably worked a total of 50 NASCAR events since then, including some at the Daytona track. During that time, Mossgrove has steadily worked his way up the chain of command. He started out on pit road and now works as crew chief on one of four tool trucks at Talladega.

The rapid rise is attributed not only to Mossgrove's diligence and experience, but to the grueling nature of the work.

"You've got to be a race fan to want to do it," said Randy Ballard, extrication supervisor and training officer for Talladega. "You'll work all week, and some folks come here and think it was going to be all rest and relaxation.

"Tim has been good for us. He's one of the guys and fits in here real well."

And even though Mossgrove won't see much of the race, or much of anything for that matter, he's happy to keep going back.

"Yeah, I might not move much the whole day while I'm there," Mossgrove said. "But to me, it's a release."

Joel Anderson can be reached at joelanderson@sptimes.com or (352) 754-6120.

Fast facts

Live from Alabama

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Aaron's 499 race at Talladega Superspeedway can be seen at 1 p.m. today on WTVT-Ch. 13.

Brooksville fire chief's 'working vacation' at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama 04/25/09 [Last modified: Saturday, April 25, 2009 12:34pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Trump reveals that he didn't record Comey after all

    Politics

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump declared Thursday he never made and doesn't have recordings of his private conversations with ousted former FBI director James Comey, ending a monthlong guessing game that he started with a cryptic tweet and that ensnared his administration in yet more controversy.

    President Donald Trump said Thursday that he didn’t record his conversations with James Comey.
  2. Lightning fans, don't get attached to your first-round draft picks

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — When Lightning GM Steve Yzerman announces his first-round pick tonight in the amateur draft at No. 14, he'll invite the prospect onto the stage for the once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunity.

    Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin (27) eludes  Montreal Canadiens left wing Phillip Danault (24) during the second period of Wednesday???‚??„?s (12/28/16) game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Montreal Canadiens at the Amalie Arena in Tampa.
  3. Investigation Discovery TV show profiles 2011 Landy Martinez murder case

    Crime

    The murder of a St. Petersburg man will be featured this week on a new true crime series Murder Calls on Investigation Discovery.

    Jose Adame sits in a Pinellas County courtroom during his 2016 trial and conviction for first-degree murder. Adame was convicted of first-degree murder last year for torturing and then executing his boyfriend as he pleaded for his life in 2011. Now it will be featured in a new true crime series Murder Calls on Investigation Discovery. The episode will air on June 26 at 9 p.m. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]
  4. Uhuru mayoral candidate Jesse Nevel protests exclusion from debate

    Blogs

    ST. PETERSBURG — Jesse Nevel, the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement candidate for mayor, on Thursday demanded that he be allowed to participate in a July 25 televised debate between incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman and challenger Rick Baker.

    Mayoral candidate Jesse Nevel holds a news conference outside the headquarters of the Tampa Bay Times on Thursday to protest his exclusion from the mayoral debate. Nevel is a member of the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement.
  5. Lightning GM Steve Yzerman also has top-9 wing on his wish list

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — Much has been made about the Lightning's interest in bolstering its blue line, even after last week's acquisition of defense prospect Mikhail Sergachev.

    Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman gestures as he speaks to the media about recent trades during a news conference before an NHL hockey game against the Carolina Hurricanes Wednesday, March 1, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. The Lightning, over the past few days, have traded goaltender Ben Bishop to the Los Angeles Kings, forward Brian Boyle to the Toronto Maple Leafs, and forward Valtteri Filppula to the Philadelphia Flyers. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) TPA101