Over the Wall with Miles McGee

Miles McGee's passion for racing has allowed him to experience life over the wall. (Photo Credit: Dave Preat)

Miles McGee’s passion for racing has allowed him to experience life over the wall. (Photo Credit: Dave Preat)

First off, I want to thank all of our first responders who dedicate their lives to serve the people.

Miles McGee : I’m a retired firefighter for the City of Sebring, FL. I’ve been involved for twenty-eight years as of this year, and I started working for Daytona International Speedway about five years ago.

I’ve done everything from rescue trucks, med carts, ambulances, pit road, garages and the fuel house as far as coverage. It’s everything that NASCAR and the racetracks requires. I travel with a couple of guys that also do fuel out, pit or garage with NASCAR from Daytona. It’s just wherever they need us.

I asked McGee if there are any differences with how fuel islands are set up in NASCAR, IndyCar, and IMSA. In fact, they are. However, it only affects his job if it becomes a fire issue.   You don’t need your passport race fans to catch a glimpse of this “island!”

Melissa Wright : So when you say fuel out, what does that mean?

MM : That’s where the team comes and gets their fuel for race weekend. Cup cars, Xfinity, and the Trucks as well. At all NASCAR races, the Sunoco tanker contains the racing fuel. The set up is called the “fuel island.” This is an area set up for temporary pumps or cans of fuel and we have to stand there and make sure that there are no spills, tipovers or flashes.

MW : How long have you been traveling with NASCAR and do you travel to every race?

MM : About four 1/2 years, maybe five? We’re able to do this job as a traveling safety team because of what we do. While in the process, we’re making friends from other tracks and that’s how we get hired on by them.

MW : Just to clarify on this about coverage of tracks that you’re able to cover: You’re not restricted to just SMI or ISC for example?

MM : No. I still do volunteer fire work with Sebring, and I’m currently the pit boss there. And also I’ve worked the 12H last March.

The two main things they need from us from different tracks is that we have our NASCAR hard cards and make sure that our training is updated. We have training every year.

MW : Are you a first responder other than fire and safety?

MM : Yes, I’m a licensed EMT and retired police officer.

MW : What piqued your interest into NASCAR?

MM : I love auto racing! It doesn’t have to be NASCAR. It could be Trucks, especially IndyCar or a dirt track track!

MW : What is one of your biggest fears while standing at the fuel island?

MM : Probably a flash fire from a spark.

MW : How do you handle one of those situations?

MM : Here at Bristol, we have some of the best firefighters and every firefighter has fire procedures. We’re standing close enough if in the event of something happening, we can put the fire out.

MW : Most people associate fire trucks with fire. What do you do in the event of an emergency while trackside?

MM : We’ll use fire extinguishers while we’re waiting on the EMTs.

MW : In all of your years of experience, have you ever experienced a flashback?

MM : Not as long as I’ve been with the NASCAR circuit. I had a couple of flash fires in a different series a several years back though. I know that several of the tracks have had them, but I wasn’t there when they had them. We have a safety plan in place and if it gets past that point, we have a second safety plan that we engage. Safety is always a priority.

Author’s Notes : A flash fire is a sudden, intense fire caused by ignition of a mixture of air in a disbursed flammable substance such as a solid, flammable or combustible liquid, or flammable gas.

MW : Outside of NASCAR and fire safety, what are your general hobbies? What do you like to do?

MM : I love camping, hanging out with family and friends, watching some good movies – or sometimes when I’m not working, I love to hunt and fish.

McGee was formerly with the City of Sebring, FL Fire Department and currently servies with the West Sebring Fire Department.

McGee found himself in the winner's circle during Tony Stewart's final Cup start at Bristol Motor Speedway.

McGee found himself in the winner’s circle during Tony Stewart’s final Cup start at Bristol Motor Speedway.

“I think every firefighter’s dream is to go to Victory Lane or Circle,” McGee said.

Incidentally, in the NXS race at Bristol, an occurrence happened inside the the pit box on lap 49 of the Fitzgerald Glider Kits 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway for the No. 00 of Cole Custer.

“I’d like to give a shoutout to all the guys who work the pit roads and fuel islands,” McGee said. “We know that there are two different corporations like SMI and ISC, but all of us have to have the same qualifications and training. I truly enjoy what I do, not everyone loves this sport like they use to. You have to love it, it keeps you safer and more alert while doing your job. All of the tracks I’ve been to really take care of us – it’s awesome. It’s just really awesome.”
I’d like to thank Miles for taking time out of his busy day on Friday while at the track to do this interview and wish him a very “Happy Birthday” on race day! It’s Bristol, Baby!
Melissa Wright

My column focuses on the unsung heroes in motor sports. I’m an avid sports lover, bow hunter, and a humanitarian that has the effective ability to help communities that have been hit by a natural or man made disaster. Paying it forward as a Disaster Responder with the American Red Cross is the most important action of kindness, and gratitude that I can give to others. Lover of coffee, the beach and LivePD.

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