Six Pack of Pop: Andrew Cuomo
August 14, 2013, Holly Cain, NASCAR.com
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo drove a couple laps around Watkins Glen International in his 1975 Chevrolet Corvette last weekend before on-track activities officially began for the NASCAR doubleheader there.
He stopped by to speak to reporters about how important the race is to New York state, to thank NASCAR for its help on a major distracted driving campaign and to share what it was like behind the wheel driving on one of racing’s most historic and famous tracks.
*How was it actually driving around the 2.45-mile Watkins Glen road course in your own car?
“As a car guy it’s a special treat to be here today. They actually let me take my old Corvette out on the track. I think I could have passed Regan Smith in the pace car if I had really wanted to, but I gave him a break because he’s a former New Yorker."
*You have been very supportive of New York hosting NASCAR, why?
“It’s big business not just for the sport, but for the state’s that host that sport. And it means about $150 million in economic activity for the region. We’ve been working very hard on sporting tourism in New York and we’re pleased and proud to have NASCAR in New York.’’
"We’ve been working very hard on sporting tourism in New York and we’re pleased and proud to have NASCAR in New York.’’
-- Gov. Andrew Cuomo on New York's support towards NASCAR
*New York is taking a firm stand against Distracted Driving, could you talk about this campaign?
“First, I wanted to applaud NASCAR for what they’re taking on in this distracted driving campaign. We’ve been very active with this in the state of New York and I think this is a great safety challenge. Distracted driving, which is texting, using your cellphone, electronic devices while in the car is a major problem in this state and in this nation. It has surpassed alcohol and drinking and driving as a problem. In this state, one out of every five accidents is from distracted driving. That’s the bad news. The good news is we know we can change behavior because we’ve done it before. It’s commonplace for people to wear a seatbelt and there was a time when nobody did. Drinking and driving has been a tremendous social change. We’ve changed societal behavior and we have to do the same thing when it comes to distracted driving. This is especially a problem with young drivers. We’re trying to change it. We’ve changed the laws in the state of New York to deal with distracted driving. It’s now 5-points on your license, which is a lot considering 11 points you lose your license. We’ve made it a primary offense."
*How can NASCAR help?
“It’s going to take more than new laws and enforcement and that’s NASCAR getting involved in a campaign that basically says, ‘Don’t do it.’ You’ll have the best drivers in the country saying it’s dangerous to text and drive, it’s dangerous to be distracted while you’re driving. And if it’s dangerous for the best drivers -- people that drive 180 mph -- then certainly it’s dangerous for all drivers and I think it’s going to be a very powerful message. There’s no more authoritative source than NASCAR and race car drivers on this. If they say it’s dangerous, it’s dangerous. Because they know the limits. I think it’s going to be a very powerful (message). I think it will actually save lives and that’s what it’s all about at the end of the day."
*Describe your laps around the track:
“First of all, every boy’s dream is to be able to take his car and drive around Watkins Glen and it took me a few years, but I actually got there. I have an old Corvette, 1975. I’d been around before only as a passenger. What was striking to me was how hard it was on the brakes and the car. You go from top speed and in a few hundred feet have to bring it way, way down. I could smell the brake pads and that was surprising to me as was the difficulty of the turns. It was striking how challenging the course actually is to drive. It looks easy when you’re sitting there watching on TV. It was a real thrill. It was real fun."
*Another big news item is this weekend, Alex Rodriguez returned to the lineup at Yankee Stadium for the first time. What do you think the reaction will be?
“New Yorkers are a tough audience and this is a legitimate issue and an issue the entire sport is facing. In some ways it will be therapeutic for the sport because we have to work through it.’’
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