Tim Brewer calls them his "toys," but the components of the ESPN Dish Tech Center are far from child's play. The million-dollar traveling studio will be used at all of ESPN and ESPN on ABC NASCAR Nextel Cup races, as well as at companion Busch series events, to bring fans inside the garage. Brewer is excited to bring it to life as technical analyst.
One of the most successful crew chiefs in NASCAR history with 53 wins, 55 poles and two NASCAR Cup series championships, Brewer said he enjoys sharing his racing knowledge with fans as part of the ESPN broadcast team. But he wasn't always so eager to talk.
"When I was in the racing business, I was greedy," he said. "I didn't share anything with anybody because we came to win the race. We would have been a lot more profitable and probably made a lot more money and had a lot bigger business if we would have shared selling product. But at that time we didn't want to race against our product; we wanted to race with our product. But now I'm here to share information."
Among Brewer's "toys" are a Chevrolet cutaway car, a Chevrolet Car of Tomorrow, a complete power train, and a touch-screen monitor.
"Everything you see in here, 90 percent of the people in the garage have it on their cars," he said. "We feel that if we were going to go race, these are the products that we would have."
"Rich Feinberg [senior coordinating producer for NASCAR on ESPN] had the unique idea of an indoor tech studio," Brewer said. "We want the fan, when he or she tunes in, to turn the volume up instead of turning the channel. And I think if they give us just a little bit of their time, we can share our knowledge with them.
"It's a giant step for ESPN to present all this because we can illustrate pretty much anything that happens on the racetrack here in the tech center. We had certain illustrations with our animations that were so lifelike that when we displayed them for the Chevrolet people last weekend at Indy, they asked that we cover some of it up, because it was pretty revealing."
Brewer also has the resources of friends in the garage he's made over his many years in the business.
"Some people said, 'Well, somebody has to break something for you to go on.' But that's not necessarily true. We can illustrate good, bad and the strange. In Indianapolis, the No. 38 car spun out and flat-spotted a tire. Well, I called a friend at Goodyear, and the next thing you know, there was a knock on the door. We were able to show that tire right after the incident."
"You know Mickey Mouse?" Brewer asked. "It takes a lot of cheese to feed him and he gets bigger and bigger and it just takes more cheese. It's a great illustration of us as an entertainment business and it goes back to the fans. The more we give them, the more they want. The more we get, the more we want to give them. So it's a never-ending process to be better."
"We've got a phenomenal staff and we get a lot support from our people," Brewer concluded. "You cannot win a war without having the people and the tools to do it with. "And we feel like here at ESPN in the Dish Tech Center, we have those tools and we're definitely going to win the war."