He's orange, and he's a cone, yet The Orange Cone (@theOrangeCone) has captured a loyal following on Twitter with his snarky NASCAR race commentary and incessant invitations to a #hottubparty. Known for insightful analysis such as ..
The Orange Cone: I started out as a normal traffic cone, working city streets and keeping rioters under control. I used to work near a bar and a lot of pit lizards would hang out until they got tossed out. I would protect them while they were sobering up in the gutter. Eventually a couple of them made it to NASCAR and snatched husbands in the garage and remembered my kindness.
pressdog: Strictly a NASCAR cone, or do you do IndyCar, F1?
O.C: I've worked all major motorsports series. In fact I worked the USGP when Schumacher let off on the final straightaway and Barichello won. I'm ashamed of it now but I am the one who clued Schumacher in on exactly where to let off to ensure the closest finish.
pressdog: How long have you been on Twitter (@TheOrangeCone)? Did you start out as a phenomenon, or was it a slow build?
O.C: I've only been on a couple of months. It's been a phenomenon, all thanks to @mini_chad. If not for our strong relationship, I'd likely be toiling in virtual anonymity. I did have a MySpace page when that was the rage. There is a Facebook page but I really don't have the time to update that and provide my fans the type of quality information and snark they deserve and have come to expect.
pressdog: Do you have a favorite job at the track or are you always in the same position?
O.C: I've worked a few positions. Pit entrance is the most exhilarating. Nothing beats 43 cars thundering past you inches away at 190 miles per hour. I've done pit out a few times and it's not as exciting. Thankfully they never ask me to help with pre-race or post-race traffic. I thought working with Scott Speed was insane, but race fans can make even Speedo look like Alain Prost or Richard Petty.
pressdog: For the aspiring cones out there, what’s your advice? What do you tell he little cones coming up?
O.C: First, if any cone says they want to come work with me I show them the video of Rick Crawford flipping on to me in the Truck Series race at Daytona in 2005. Not gonna lie, that hurt. I got up and worked the rest of that race but have no memory of it. Hell, Tracy Hines almost nailed me later in the same race and I was so dazed I didn't even try to move out of the way. Back to it -- If they think they can handle it, I have them go on top of the wall at the restart zone and sit there for a few weeks. Usually that scares them all off. Our term for rookie cones is "orangehorns."
pressdog: You’re known for your insightful in-race commentary ...
... What do you attribute your grasp of the subtleties if the sport?
O.C: Being so close to it you can't help but pick it up. I've also got a degree in communications so I guess it's only natural that I took my love for the sport and found an outlet to offer running commentary. But I've also found that simply stating the obvious gets the most response from the audience.
pressdog: Your hashtags have quite a following. How do you come up with them?
O.C: I wish I could say I put a lot of thought into them, but usually whatever pops up on screen is whatever pops out of my conehole at the time. I do use #ultimateshowofrespect a lot, usually when someone runs a race with an orange car. Although I did just get some time on NASCAR Race Hub thanks to the amiable and gentlemanly Steve Byrnes, and that earned him an #ultimateshowofrespect too.
pressdog: Kind of confused by #goldbracelet … since you have no arms. Give us a better reading on that one.
O.C: That's in honor of my job as tech reporter for ESPN. I've started sharing that job with Tim Brewer, but ESPN didn't want the viewers at home to be able to tell the difference. It's simple really, all I do is pop on a wig just like Brewer's hair and an exact replica of that gaudy gold bracelet that he wears. You can easily tell which ones are my reports -- they are the more relevant, concise, and understandable ones.
pressdog: I’ve noticed you’re a big fan of #hottubparties. Do you actually float or sink like a stone, or do you just sit at the edge of the tub ensuring the safety of spacy people who walk to close?
O.C: I sit in the hot tub with many, many extraordinarily beautiful women! They can't keep their hands off of me either. Remember, pressdog, what happens under the water at a #hottubparty stays under the water. Most of my parties are in a secluded corner of the coach lot at the track. Sometimes we get married drivers wives there and they don't want a lot of attention.
I am currently trying to get a NASCAR media hot tub party organized with Nicole Briscoe, Jenna Fryer, Danielle Trotta, Wendy Venturini and Shannon Spake. Maybe we can organize one at the Indycar race at Iowa next year. I'll make you honorary Iowa Hot Tub Party chairman. Your only duty is to find four to six hot women to share a few hours in a hot tub with us. Maybe you can ask Curt Cavin to come too.
(pressdog note: Hard to believe you left out Woman of pressdog® Jamie Little, but maybe it was out of fear of the Cone-Killing Ponytail.)
pressdog: IndyCar uses some fluorescent green cones occasionally? Are they relatives of yours? I can't imagine you'd ask us to judge a cone by it's color.
O.C: Those cones are my French cousins. Just as open wheel drivers are now mostly European and South American, so are the cones that keep them safe. I think a lot of it is due to the inherent language barrier.
pressdog: What’s the status on your candidacy to replace Brian Barnhart as chief steward for IndyCar?
O.C: Have had several great conversations with Randy Bernard on this. He'd like to make it happen and was ready to announce during the pre-race show at Sonoma. But then Mike Helton came in and basically tripled Indycar's offer.
I am not in it just for the money (please don't call me Danicone!!!), but Indycar will need to step up to the plate big time. I know Max Papis supports my candidacy and I think it's likely he'd jump over to Indycar if it were to happen.
pressdog: Jimmie Johnson, man or myth?
O.C: Both. I saw him at a few hot tub parties before he was married. Wonderfully nice guy. Except I heard he tosses @mini_chad into the closet of his motorhome at night with his sweaty uniform. That's not very nice.
pressdog: Gotta ask … since everyone else is offering their opinions… what’s your take on Danica to NASCAR. Does she have what it takes?
O.C: All it means for me, really, is that she and I will spend a lot more time together. I get texts from her when she's racing Indy cars telling me how much she misses me and how much fun we have together. I knew months before everyone else that she was going to come to NASCAR full-time because she told me she'd see me every week in 2012. That was back in May.
pressdog: You seem to be tight with the @SprintCup and something called @Mini_Chad. First, what the hell is a Mini Chad? And are there other inanimate objects out there that you network with on Twitter?
O.C: @Mini_Chad is the cardboard cutout version of Jimmie Johnson's crew chief Chad Knaus. I believe he originated on a Lowe's in-store advert, but we don't talk about where we came from. After all, who wants to hear how a cone was made? It's quite disgusting really. Anyhow, there's @TheCautLights, @DoubleKsBeard, @NASCARPaceCar, and the elusive and enigmatic @JacquesDebris. And since it always raises a lot of questions, if someone does hit me and I go on to the track and bring out a caution it is not officially a debris caution. I would never presume to step on @JacquesDebris' toes like that.
pressdog: Favorite part of race weekend?
O.C: Usually after qualifying. That's when the go-or-go-homers go, well, home. And since Scott Speed is a go-or-go-homer I have a pretty good chance of seeing him go home. It's not that I dislike the guy, but we have a long and storied history. For some reason he hates me, and takes every opportunity he has to try to hit me. Thankfully he doesn't get to very often because I have a few guys that go out of their way to protect me. Also, whenever Speed walks past me on pit road, I get the double-barrelled middle finger salute that Will Power showed Brian Barnhart. In fact, I also see the same anger and hatred on Speedo's face too.
pressdog: Who’s someone famous who has run over you? Any favorite encounters you can tell us about?
O.C: This goes back to my Hollywood days. I was a stunt cone for some straight-to-DVD movie and Eric Norris was a stunt driver. We'd had some words when he was running Winston West races and he noticed me on set, thought he would get even with me and ran me over. Then he got out and started jawing with me.
After a few minutes, his dad Chuck Norris came over and started running his mouth too. I was already short tempered from being run over and I snapped. I gave Chuck Norris what has become known as, very simply, the ass kicking of a lifetime (#asskickingofalifetime). But he didn't learn his lesson. I've had to do it two more times since. To top it off he drunk dialed me a couple weeks ago and started running his mouth again so he still has another one coming the next time I see him.
pressdog: Finally, what’s Rusty Wallace really like?
O.C.: Let's just say this - what you see on TV is exactly what you get in real life.
Follow The Orange Cone on twitter at @TheOrangeCone