Berlin’s Doug Campbell is
“Living The Dream”
|By Brian Danko, Staff Writer
The New Britain Herald & Bristol Press
Of course, that is the saying when someone makes it
to the big time in racing. But how many 21 year olds know what they
want to do and then actually do it? Doug is a living example of living
Doug is the spotter for driver Dave Blaney on the NASCAR Sprint Cup
circuit and the “rookie” is learning on the job after helping modified
series driver Tommy Barrett to many wins the last couple of years.
Now a spotter’s job is just as important as the crew chief, the tire
changer or even the crew. A spotter is the driver’s eyes in the sky.
He tells the driver what cars he’s coming up on or what drivers are
coming up on him.
Doug with his father at Daytona
He is on the radio telling his driver which way to go when a caution
happens. A bad call can cost your driver a win or top finish.
Campbell has relocated to North Carolina, moving there right after the New
Year, and is currently living with Mike Calinoff, the spotter for Ricky
Stenhouse after years of spotting for two-time Daytona 500 winner and past
champion Matt Kenseth.
“I can’t help but learn from a better person. I consider him one of the
best spotters out there and he has been so helpful to me. I know that I
have a big learning curve so I am soaking in everything Mike says,” Doug
Calinoff is another “modified” person who moved south many years ago after
writing for a racing trade paper as well as announcing at several tracks
and of course spotting for drivers such as Reggie Ruggiero and Ricky
Fuller on the modified tour.
Campbell received a call from Sprint Cup team owner Tommy Baldwin, Jr.,
son of modified legend Tommy Baldwin, and was asked to spot on a tryout
basis and Baldwin liked what he saw and heard.
“We tried out Doug during some races last year and we liked what we saw in
him. He has a lot of room to grow and I love that he wants to learn and
get better,” Tom said. “His background working up north with the modifieds
will make the transition easy as I feel the NASCAR modified tour is one
the best training grounds to excel down south.”
Campbell’s love with racing came when he was younger, going to Riverside
Park Speedway to watch the Alkas family of Berlin race.
Now that Doug has a few tracks under his wing, I asked which one so far
was the toughest to spot.
“Bristol is toughest because everything happens so fast.”
Laps at Bristol’s banked half mile are 15 seconds and with 43 cars racing,
you must be ready for anything.
One of the obstacles for Doug has been life on the road.
“I am just doing laundry now,” Doug said with a laugh, but added the
travel doesn’t bother him, “It really hasn’t gotten to me, and it’s
actually fun for me.”
Sure, what 21 year old wouldn’t like to be in Daytona, Phoenix, Las Vegas,
Bristol, Tenn. and then off to California to start the year off.
While the spotting is his main job on race day, Doug also coordinates all
the team’s travel plans lining up hotels and rental cars for team members
once they arrive in the city of wherever they are racing.
Life on the Sprint Cup circuit can be rough. Getting home late on a Sunday
night, doing your laundry, rechecking your plans and hopping on a plane
Thursday to head to the next race.
“That was another area that Mike Calinoff helped me a great deal. I can’t
stress what a help he’s been to me.”
Usually, spotters are grizzled veterans who have earned their stripes at
various tracks around the country before getting the call for the big
time, but at 21, Doug believes he is the youngest spotter on the Sprint
“I just had a birthday February 7 so, yeah, I think I am.”
Has that proven to be an advantage or disadvantage to him?
“I know that all of the other teams’ spotters have been helpful to me. If
I ask them questions, they are all willing to answer them for me.”
Doug said he is learning a lot of the spotter’s terminology and that is
another thing that Calinoff has been very helpful with.
“I try to follow and shadow Mike as much as possible. I am so thankful for
the opportunity I have.”
The town of Berlin has long been known throughout the state as a sports
town, but with many Berlin residents involved in racing and moving south
in NASCAR, it soon will be known for its rich racing heritage.