Friday, July 20, 2007
I'm going to be honest here. Weekend posting on any blog is kind of like being the Maytag repairman from the old commercial. OMDQ and I know you are reading our stuff, but we also know that it's harder to compete with weekend activities than it is with office work. I kind of got used to not seeing much in the way of comments.
But when I was bored at work myself, I decided to check back through, and discovered that someone had left a comment weeks ago, wondering why I never talk about NASCAR. Well, the answer is simple. I don't know jack about it. But I consider myself open to new things, so I thought this weekend, I'd have a go at it. Just don't be surprised if I sound like the complete novice I am.
After the jump, articles from the Indianapolis Star and the Daytona News-Journal.
I grew up in Kansas, and we didn't get a real speedway until long after I moved away, so racing was just never on my list of viable sporting options growing up. I remember seeing a few drag races and one demolition derby, but no oval track at all. So I had some research to do when I decided to take up this challenge.
But I'm lazy. I didn't start from the beginning. I just went to the NASCAR website and looked up who was in the points lead (Jeff Gordon!), who won the last race (my doppelganger, Tony Stewart!), and where the next race would be (Indianapolis Motor Speedway!). Thus armed, I moved on.
For starters, the Indianapolis Star is an excellent paper for racing fans. Being the home of one of our nation's most famous tracks, the hometown rag has a dedicated section for motorsports. Here's what I found out:
For one thing, the president of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS), has the incredibly unlikely name (for a man) of Joie Chitwood. I'm forced to picture Spike Lee's sister and the Hoosiers legend in some kind of mashup.
Second of all, apparently Joie does not simply let the track lie dormant when the big events are in other cities. He's announced that the track will undergo a several-million-dollar renovation to allow for an upcoming MotoGP race, which apparently means motorcycles. My favorite quote about the changes to the track:
"Concrete walls are not a good thing for gentlemen on motorcycles," Chitwood said.
The work crews are going to try to squeeze the construction in between next weekend's Allstate 400 and the Indianapolis 500, set for May of 2008. The track is also approved for F1 racing, should the need occur.
That sounded pretty good, right? But I must admit I don't understand it in light of the next article I read. Apparently, since there is not going to be an F1 race at the Brickyard this year, another racing body called Grand Am has thrown their hats into the ring. Apparently, this is an interesting but unlikely possibility.
A Grand Am race might elicit a strong reaction from some of the Speedway's Indy Racing League partners who participate in the American Le Mans Series, Grand Am's rival. Honda is one of the ALMS manufacturers, and Penske Racing, Andretti Green Racing and Rahal Letterman Racing are participants. So is Fernandez Racing, which was an IRL regular through last season.
See - that's too many governing bodies. It reminds me of boxing.
Speaking of Rahal Letterman Worldwide Pants Racing, this little item reminded me how brutal a sport this can be:
Ryan Hunter-Reay will replace Jeff Simmons in the No. 17 car of Rahal Letterman Racing, the first driver shakeup of the IndyCar Series season, team officials confirmed today.
Simmons received the ride at the start of the 2006 season when Paul Dana was killed in a crash at Homestead-Miami Speedway prior to the season-opening race.
Hey, thanks for stepping up for the dead guy and all, but you aren't winning enough races. NEXT!
After all of the above, I decided to turn to the newspaper from NASCAR's hometown of Daytona, Florida, the News-Journal. I must admit, this newspaper was a bit more user-friendly for a guy who is baffled by the three buttons on the standard gas pump.
First, columnist Brent Woronoff helped me out by explaining some of the changes being contemplated by NASCAR, and what they mean.
A NASCAR.com poll Saturday asked how qualifying should be handled when weather comes into play. Fifty-one percent of respondents said to keep the completed times and finish the remainder the next day before the race. Another 28 percent said throw out the completed times and qualify everybody again the next day.
Only 20 percent voted to cancel qualifying and set the field according to the points standings. In other words, don't send home Boris Said and Michael Waltrip and Jeremy Mayfield if they can make the field on speed.
Teams on the outside of the top 35 have it tough enough. Don't wipe out their only chance to race because of a tight schedule.
Thank you! Was that so hard? Talk to me like I'm a moron who's never seen a race, and we can get somewhere. Because that's what I am.
And I found this one to be hilarious. Ken Hornack's Sounding Off feature delved into the sponsorship question of the day, namely Where the hell is the Schlitz car? I mean, does that not seem like a natural fit? But there is no Schlitz car. Best was this quote from my doppelganger, Tony Stewart, who won the last NASCAR event, held in Chicago:
(A)nyone in the infield sporting an orange-and-black cap and celebrating with a Budweiser 12-pack certainly had no recollection of a time when Schlitz trailed only the so-called King of Beers in sales.
In spite of that, or perhaps because of that, Stewart's frank admission that "I have a case of Schlitz and I fully intend to get to the bottom of the cardboard box tonight" should have served as a source of high comedy after a race that was about as bland as the average domestic light beer.
A funny quote, though the last sentence highlights another problem I have when trying to discuss racing. I can't tell a good race from a bad one. I suspect that racing, like most sports, has to have some point of entry, as in, one must have participated, and have some visceral understanding of how difficult it is, in order to fully appreciate it.
There was no motorsports module in my high school phys ed class, so I'm on the outside looking in.
But I welcome the challenge of learning something new in this space. I always enjoy the research more than I thought I would, and it helps me not sound like a doofus when the subject comes up again. So thanks to reader Dummy (his choice of nickname, not mine) for his comment, and for getting me off my duff to learn something new.
Now that the blog is over, I have a case of bomb pops and I fully intend to get to the bottom of the cardboard box tonight.
See you around,