April 29, 2013



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 the dream.

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 said recently.

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 Cup circuit.

“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.


Brian Danko has been covering Auto Racing for over 30 years for various magazines & and racing papers including Area Auto Racing News. His weekly column can be seen "In The Print Editions" of  The New Britain Herald & The Bristol Press.


Copyright © 2012-2013  Brian Danko & SpeedwayLineReport.com, New Britain Herald & The Bristol Press.