The Outstanding NASCAR Experience

The Apopka High schools band was invited to perform at the NASCAR Daytona 500 last week. The Blue and White interviewed our band teacher, Mr. Langford, and head cheerleading coach Mrs. Bercegeay, as well as some band students who performed at the Daytona 500.

Mr. Langford, Apopka’s band teacher gave his opinion about his Daytona 500 experience: “It was absolutely amazing. I am not a race fan in the slightest, but I am well aware of Daytona and so to be there was absolutely incredible. We basically just did an extension of what we do for football, because we play football so late around here (December 18th), it hasn’t been that long for a lot of our players. Randomly, the guys were just looking for bands in the area that seem to kind of be like pep groups, they do this kind of naturally. He’s like, ‘You know we just stumbled upon your band and so I thought about reaching out,’ and honestly, when I saw the email I was going to respectfully decline because we’re just really busy right now. It doesn’t seem like it because it’s not football season, but we’re actually busier now than we’ve been all year. The third nine weeks are the hardest because there are so many things going on with jazz band, concert band, solo ensemble, [and] lots of stuff. I kept going back to the fact the Daytona motor speed is like one of the top venues of the sport, these kids will probably never have this opportunity again. As luck will have it, [people] really liked how the kids played. They loved it so they asked us to do it again next year, so yeah we will go back to it again. We like [the food there] too so we’ll [definitely be] going back there.

Some of the comments we got from some folks were how much better the kids played that day than we even did at the state championship game. We had been working in other ways and just working on our skills and abilities, so we just went back and played what we knew to play they’re just playing it at a higher level. We did have to do logistics planning like who wants to go was not required [whoever wants to go volunteered] we took about 110 folks over there. We played for a minute and a half. Basically, as they were coming out of a commercial break we played for an extended period, and then after about thirty seconds, they would talk on top of us while we were playing. Granted we were all 500 yards away from where they are but they would keep the cameras on us while we were on the track. As soon as we would, kind of fade out I would get the cue from the producer. “Alright cool, that’s a rap.” Then we [would] have to stop because we will impact their production. With that said it, was really just that, then during the commercials in between the hour we played three to five times in between each hour.

This was a lot of our younger students that went: our first and second-period kids. We had so many kids, we didn’t have any color guard kids because they were out there competing with their competitive stuff, so we took cheerleaders and also the mascots. It was truly a good representation of our campus and it was super fun to just see everybody coming together as we do on Friday mornings and Friday nights. Just to do it in a different venue was a good time.”

The Blue and White interviewed some band members that participated in the Daytona 500, starting with Natalie Davis a sophomore here. She explained, “The Daytona 500 was alright. I mean we didn’t really see anything but the experience was crazy. We were on TV!” Junior Talise Clay added, “The Daytona 500 event was really fun for the band. We had never done anything like this so to be invited was definitely a surreal experience. I would 100% do it again. Being on TV,[was] fun. Who doesn’t like it?” Junior Kimora John didn’t have such a pleasant experience, “So basically they have us playing in the cold and I couldn’t play because my fingers were frozen. We didn’t play that long. We only played some of our songs.”

Mrs. Bercegeay the head coach of the cheerleading team was invited by Mr. Langford to perform with the band since the color guard was competing, and she shared her experience: “I got the opportunity to perform at the Daytona 500 Fox & Friends morning show by being invited by our amazing Band Director Jeremy Langford and our Blue Darter Marching Band. The girls who volunteered to attend were given the list of songs that would be played and were asked to practice on their own. As a team, we practiced the morning of, for a very short time. The team pulled together and did a great job with the dance routines. It was hard getting up at 3:15 am but also exciting knowing where we were going and being able to spend time with some amazing people. The performance felt amazing. We felt important being able to walk on the actual race track and being able to meet some of the drivers. The band, cheerleaders, and mascots did an amazing job!! Unfortunately, we did not get to watch the race. We were only invited to be a part of the morning show with Fox & Friends. I would absolutely take my team again if we are invited to go back. It was an event that we have never done but one that will always be remembered.”

It seems like Apopka had a great experience performing for the Daytona 500. They had a few setbacks but it equated to an overall worthy experience.