Behind Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus, Earl Barban may well be the most well-known member of Team 48. As Jimmie’s spotter, fans can hear him on the radio every week, as he feeds Jimmie important information and a little encouragement.
On Twitter, @BigEarl48 has a hilarious personality that comes across through his interaction with his friends and fans. We asked Earl a few questions so that you could get to know him even better (keep in mind that Earl definitely has a sense of humor!):
- Nicknames: “Big Earl” “The Duke” “Big Worm” (this last one is used by his close friends, and is a reference to the character in the movie “Friday”)
- Twitter: @BigEarl48
- Hometown: St. Louis, MO
- How long have you spotted for the 48 (and number of year w/ the team)?5 years
- Years as a Spotter? 13
- Favorite Track to Spot at? Bristol
- Hardest Track to Spot at? Watkins Glen because you can’t see half the track so you have to rely on others to help you. Where I would normally anticipate where Jimmie is and what is happening around him, you can’t see him at the Glen to do that, so you’re constantly being ‘surprised.’
- Favorite Track to Visit? Las Vegas. I also like Chicago, Kansas & Indy because I get to see family.
- Favorite Vacation Spot? The next place I’m going to! (Earl loves riding his Harley on long trips. This week he rode from Texas to Phoenix, which is a 17-hour journey, and next week he will be riding back from Homestead to Charlotte). Also, anywhere that my feet are higher than my hinny and they serve drinks with umbrellas. I love anywhere that I can go scuba diving, it’s one of my favorite things to do. You don’t have to be athletic to float!
- What is your eyesight (20/20?) My eyesight is perfect to watch Jimmie Johnson win!
- What do you take with you to the spotter's stand? My radios & radio bag, repair equipment and accessories for the radios, my Canadian-made Tilly hat (I have great style), and depending on the day, a Dagwood sandwich or a Pop Tart. Formerly, my snacks would be cookies and Swedish fish, but I have recently been working on bringing healthier snacks, like an apple, up to the spotter’s stand.
- Most Memorable Moment with Team 48? My first race win with the 48 team in the 2006 Daytona 500, which just happened to be the 48th running of the Daytona 500.
- What do you do in the shop during the week? Special projects for the shop foreman, quarterly inventories, and helping any department that needs it (paint, fab, etc.). I’ll sweep the floors if it needs to be done. I basically act as an all-around floater and help anyone that needs it. I also assist the truckers – I co-drove the 88 hauler recently, I helped Kyle drive the 48 hauler to Texas, and I help Viggy drive Jimmie’s coach to tracks when he needs me to.
- What is unique about spotting for Jimmie Johnson? I have learned how to run from the spotter’s stand to Victory Lane a lot! Jimmie is self-sufficient, he’s a 5-time champion, so I’m just happy there is a rule requiring drivers to have a spotter! I give him information on where other cars are running and act as his cheerleader once in awhile, but he doesn’t need a lot of help getting around any of these tracks. I just make sure he knows I’m on his side.
- Last Home Improvement Project You Worked on? I installed bamboo flooring in a rental house.