Friday, September 05, 2008

Introducing Cliff Cameron, RBRT's chef extraordinaire

Every job on a NASCAR Sprint Cup team is important, and one of the most critical during a race weekend belongs to Cliff Cameron, the team cook at Red Bull Racing.
Cameron is charged with preparing high-nutrition meals for the young athletes who go over the wall to perform 13-second pit stops for the Toyota Camrys of Brian Vickers and AJ Allmendinger. He also has to come up with meals the older guys on the team enjoy as well. It's a challenge he relishes -- no pun intended.

Born Charles Clifford Cameron II, the 33-year-old Red Bull cook has spent his entire career in the food business. After graduating with a degree in hospitality management from Appalachian State University and getting an associate arts degree from Brevard College, he began his career as a catering director.

"I ended up going through so many chefs in the first two years that I finally said, 'Hire me another catering director and I'll do the cooking,'" Cameron said.
Most recently, Cameron spent four years as executive chef at Queen's Landing, a restaurant in Mooresville, N.C., in the heart of NASCAR country that is popular with race crews. It was there that he was contacted by Red Bull officials looking for a recommendation for a new cook. Instead of recommending someone else, Cameron decided he was the right man for the job.

"I got in touch with (Red Bull Vice President and General Manager) Jay Frye, found out the details, came and checked out the situation, and found it to my liking."
Because he is a stickler for fresh ingredients and therefore does all his shopping the same day he serves food, Cameron prepares his menus on the fly. He can't always count on finding the same ingredients in say, Bristol, Tenn., as he will next week in Ontario, Calif.

"Menu planning actually goes on in the stores. You get to these race towns where it's just chaos, and they can be completely out of certain items -- a protein, chicken breasts -- so menu planning happens very spontaneously."

Each race day, Cameron prepares three meals a day for the team, prepared in a portable trailer with a built-in kitchen.

"It all starts with the shopping," Cameron says. "We do all the shopping on the road day to day. Sometimes, I shop at 2 or 3 a.m. at 24-hour grocery stores or Wal-Marts. I can get everything I need for the day and not have to go in and out of the track, fighting traffic."

On race days, nutrition is of paramount importance, especially for the over-the-wall crew and the drivers.

"Sundays gear more towards the nutritious sides of meals -- lots of fresh vegetables, produce, pasta, starches -- things like that," Cameron says. "Friday and Saturday, where it's mainly the garage guys in the group, they're good old boys, not so much athletes. I try to keep at least a healthy option (for them), in addition to the buffets."

Typically, Cameron cooks for about 60 people on Fridays and Saturdays, and 80 to 90 on Sundays, when the pit crew is in attendance along with the garage guys.

For Cameron, who is in first year with the team, the best thing about the job is something that lots of long-time veterans detest: travel.

"I'm getting to do a lot of stuff that I hadn't gotten to do," he says.
And he says the guys on the Red Bull team make it all worthwhile.

"They're pretty forgiving and I think they understand that I can't please everybody," Cameron says. "But seeing both cars qualifying decently and showing well in the race, once the weekend is over, it's very satisfying."
(Article courtesy Toyota Pit Pass; Photo courtesy David Vaughn)


Anonymous tracy said...

Okay, so maybe we need to ask this guy if anyone spiked the meal for the pit crews last week with something that slowed them down.

Either that, or someone switched out the Red Bull for regular water. LOL

5:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


lol I had to say it. Interesting story.

5:25 PM  
Blogger theonlynick said...

Red Bull to 3 teams? Jay Frye, who has engineered a solid turnaround at Team Red Bull is back from a post-California trip to the company's Austrian headquarters, and is reported to be seriously considering moving to the Stewart-Ryan Newman Chevy team next season. According to those close to the situation, Red Bull boss Dietrich Mateschitz wants Frye to put former Formula One driver Scott Speed in a full Cup ride next season, though there is still only sponsorship support for two drivers. #83-Brian Vickers and #84-AJ Allmendinger are the team's Cup drivers, and Frye wants to keep both. If Frye stays, that would likely mean a three-car team.(Winston Salem Journal), word is that Speed will test at LMS in a few weeks in a #82 Toyota and could make his Cup debut there in Oct.(9-6-2008)

10:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So let me get this straight: All Dietrich wants is Scott Speed in a Cup car next year? And Frye - if he stays - must figure out a way to add him in a third car, or AJ's out?

Is that what I'm reading?

7:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The media believes that Jay Frye will leave and it makes the news confusing. Jay Frye hasn't made any comments about Stewart Haas Racing. DM wants Scott Speed in a 3rd car next season but it cannot be Red Bull sponsored. To my understanding, that means that Jay Frye is going to start looking for sponsorship for the #82 team. The meeting in Austria had nothing to do with JF wanting to leave, only about getting a 3rd team ready, judging by this report.

I think the answer is right there. He's going to work on getting the #82 team ready. AJ's contract renewal should be near because JF wants him back. I think JF will stay.

I hope I'm right.

9:07 AM  
Blogger ochenta_y_tres! said...

Curt, I hope you're right too.

Maybe Frye can get Speed into at least a partial Cup season/sponsorship next year.

3 cars are better than 2, especially if AJ finishes in the top 35 in owner points.

Some people have said Speed is only doing good because of his equipment; that's why ANYONE does good. And he WILL have good equipment if he races a third RBRT car.

10:25 AM  
Anonymous 83Fanatic said...

I don't like the idea of going to 3 teams at this late date(assuming the 3rd team is full time) I fear if they rush the 3rd team, they will draw too much from the 2 teams they already have and you will end up with 3 flawed teams. And it will be BV or AJ that is no longer sponsored by RB. SS will drive a RB car, without doubt. He obviously, has a strong relationship with DM and I just do not see him driving for some generic sponsor-he has said as much in his recent Windtunnel apperance.

11:23 AM  
Anonymous tracy said...

I don't think Scott wants to jump in until he feels like he's ready. I think he saw what happened to AJ, and with a full time third car next year, he would be in that same high pressure go or go home situation.

And considering the good cars and drivers that might be in that same situation for at least the first handful of races, it could be a big blow to momentum to throw him in too early. I still think Scott should run full time Nwide or Trucks and run a partial Cup schedule in 09.

And I don't think anyone here is doubting that Scott will be good when he does get to the point where he is comfortable in these cars. I think it's just all these rumors that RB would pull AJ out in favor of Scott. No matter how great a season Scott is having in ARCA, it just doesn't compare.

11:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As much as I dont want AJ to leave this team, I think its time for him to worry about himself. It doesnt sound like RB is willing to commit and anything worth driving is dwindling away. I will be his fan no matter where he goes.

12:15 PM  
Anonymous 84 said...

So the only track time these cars have had for this race is a Happy hour practice? Ehhh, this race could be ugly. Hopefully AJ can work his way towards the front quickly. He cant afford to get caught up in a wreck.

8:33 PM  
Blogger theonlynick said...

Terrible day for the RBRT.

12:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

NASCAR took another decent day away for the 83 team by giving them a penalty for bringing out the caution. He hit the freaking wall!!

12:43 PM  
Anonymous Gangsta said...

Nascar are a**holes. Pentalizing him 2 laps for "stopping" on the track. HE HAD A FLAT TIRE!!!!!!! i am listening to his radio right now and he sounds pissed. he hit the wall and rode it and 1 and 2. he never shift gears, always on gear 4. hmmmmmmm.... i wonder? Nascar has something against teamredbull and especially BV and his team. something has to be done about this.

12:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yea. NASCAR just screwed BV. They said he brought out the caution intentionally by coming to a stop. BV never came to a stop, in fact he never left 4 gear, he was in the wall. BV got really pissed and told NASCAR to look at the replay, obviously they ignored BV. He wants an explanation after the race. I'd love to hear it too.

12:49 PM  
Anonymous Gangsta said...

BV is running faster laps than the damn leaders. what a ripoff. Nascar sucks, always AFTER the penalties BV is fast as the top 5.

12:58 PM  
Blogger theonlynick said...

Jay Frye mum on future at Red Bull

RICHMOND, Va. (AP)—Jay Frye had a “positive meeting” with Red Bull Racing management in Austria, but would not say Sunday if he’ll remain general manager or leave to run Tony Stewart’s new team.

Frye also said the team is not certain AJ Allmendinger will be back in the No. 84 Toyota next season.

“AJ has been a Red Bull athlete for a long time. They are very found of AJ,” Frye said before Sunday’s race at Richmond International Raceway. “We are going through different scenarios right now and should know something shortly.”

Asked if it was possible Allmendinger would not be back, Frye said “Yes, that’s one of the scenarios.”

The future of the team has been widely discussed since an ESPN report earlier this week that Stewart had asked Frye to manage Stewart-Haas Racing next season. The report came as Frye was traveling to Austria to discuss the direction of the race team.

Among the issues was Allmendinger, who is in the second and final year of his Red Bull contract. He’s shown marked improvement this season under Frye, and the entire Red Bull organization has been considerably better since Frye’s late January arrival.

Frye would not directly comment on the reported Stewart offer.

“I’m very happy where I’m at,” Frye said. “Obviously there is a lot going on in the sport right now, there are a lot of flattering things being said and a lot to think about, but I’m very happy where I’m at.”

It was Frye’s first visit to Austria, where the energy drink maker is based.

“The NASCAR program is very important to their business,” he said. “As a company, I wanted to understand where we’re at, what’s in store for the future. There is a lot going on with the company that is really good. We’ve made good progress. It was a very positive meeting. No matter what happens, it is great to have Red Bull part of this sport.”


If Red Bull was that "fond" of AJ, they would have already re-signed him. This is complete crap.

12:59 PM  
Anonymous Jason from PA said...

seriously, If I were AJ, I'd be out the door. Red Bull has completely F'ed him over. I have tried not to make Speed the enemy here, but now I can't wait for him to fail. I am really not happy about this. ALl of AJ's shit runs have been the teams fault-

Daytona- car wasn't fast enough in quals, had to run qual setup in race because of impound rules, car cuts tire because of these rules and ruins race-

New Hampshire- Car blows up
Sonoma- battery failure, because team neglected to make sure battery was up to snuff.

California- garbage pit stops

today, god only knows why the car failed 20 laps in...

I sure hope someone worth a shit picks him up, he deserves better-

1:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Apparently they are just fonder of Scott Speed. It concerns me that this is so unsettled because I believe it affects the entire shop and therefore both teams and I think that has maybe shown in the last few races.
Since Frye says he is happy then I hope that happiness is important enough for him to stay at Red Bull.

1:54 PM  
Anonymous KC Fan said...

AJ is still in in the top 35 in points and that should be a good thing.I'm seriously thinking that both these situations are starting to affact both teams with their perfermences the last two weeks.

NASCAR must have a problem with the 83 this season because by NO way did BV stop after hitting the wall. He was still moving.

2:19 PM  
Blogger theonlynick said...

Honestly, at this point, I wouldn't mind if AJ left the 84. He needs to know if and where he is racing next year, and all Red Bull is doing is holding him up. I love the 84 and the silver car, but unless a miracle happens, he'll be better off elsewhere. I know Ganassi isn't at the top, but I believe AJ would have more support from his owners if he went to the 41. Maybe AJ will know something by Christmas, who knows.

2:21 PM  
Blogger theonlynick said...

Red Bull is treating this like it's F1, but I'm sorry.. you can't do that.

2:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Red Bull should just have someone sit with the NASCAR officials, so crap like this doesn't happen. BV was so pissed over the radio and he kept asking for a review and there was no answer. Dale Jarret didn't agree with the penalty and video shows him always moving. Maybe if BV was not put a lap down, he could have had a better finish because he was pretty fast near the end.

2:46 PM  
Blogger Suzie said...

Oh please. The cars were crap today. AJ dropped two cylinders 10 laps into the race.

The way these cars are, you can be half a tenth off the leader and run 30th all day. It's that close. You have to run good all race.

Another absolutely pitiful race.

I don't know where the magic has gone. We're not that good anymore.

5:46 PM  
Anonymous 83fanatic said...

Suzie! Step back from the ledge! AJ, as much as I like you- think it is time to look out for yourself if you are not already. It is a damn shame though, you deserve better from them and someone else will reap the foundation RBRT helpd you build. It will come back to haunt RB for sure.

6:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We look great one week and then we are crap the next. You dont contend for championships or the chase when you run like that. Dont even get me started on the pit crews. They have gone from bad to worse. Maybe if Austria had all their ducks in a row months ago like most teams they wouldnt have so many distractions right now.

It must be very hard on the 84 side when you dont know if your driver is coming back.

It must be very hard to drive the 84 when your career is on the line.

Hopefully AJ has been approached by other teams - im sure they can see the talent evolving, even though RB cant. I sure would hate to see him out of a ride for next year because this team cant make up its mind!

7:49 PM  
Blogger ochenta_y_tres! said...

You can't blame today's performance on distractions. Everyone races for the job - that's the way it's always been and will always be. AJ definitely knows that by now.

Austria is the scapegoat in this; they're not the real enemy. I feel bad for AJ - everyone does - but he chose to enter this career with these pitfalls when he joined RBRT.

8:04 PM  
Anonymous 83fanatic said...

Ummm...if it wasn't for "Austria" there would be no team, that everyone is complaining about! Yes they have been a little inconsistant-but it is only the second year! Before the season, if it would have been stated that the 83 would be in 15th at this point anyone with half a brain would have been excited. As much as it sometimes sucks, the people in Austria own this team and can really do whatever they want. I may not agree with how they are handling AJ, but it is DM's team.

4:33 AM  
Blogger ochenta_y_tres! said...

Exactly - that is why I say they are the 'scapegoat'. DM is the one everyone wants to blame, but the truth is, things aren't that bad.

2:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Umm, Isn't this article supposed to be about Cliff Cameron?

12:25 PM  

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