Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Alonso Signs With Ferrari (Shocker!)



Cuz, y'know, they've only been talking about it since February.

Alonso's just about the closest thing to Michael Schumacher left in Formula 1--cold, calculating, knows the business side of it just as well as the driving side of it. How he didn't end up at Ferrari earlier I'll never know, but I respect the loyalty he showed to Renault. And he did bring them two world championships, beating Schumacher in the process, which is nothing to scoff at.

I'm still not sure about Raikkonen in the McLaren though--he was never one to play second fiddle, although he ended up doing so in 2008, to Massa. Still, I'm glad to see him back there with my favourite team, and for the first time since maybe 1998, I'm actually excited about the UPCOMING F1 season--the prospect of Ferrari and McLaren having figured out their cars, going head to head with Brawn and probably Red Bull. Sebastien Vettel will be a threat for wins, but I still think Red Bull is too inconsistent to challenge seriously for the title. But much like this year and last, we're looking at the possibility of four different teams (Ferrari, McLaren, Brawn, Red Bull) winning races, and a serious possibility of seven or eight drivers taking race wins.

Certainly a far cry from the boredom of Schumacher's reign...

Saturday, September 26, 2009

A Public Race Where I Wasn't Wrecked by a n00b...



Shocking, I know, but it does happen. For someone who races so much in leagues like myself, getting in on a public sim-race is usually just a recipe for anger and futility. The average public racer is typically 12 years old, or at least seems to act like it, and half the field wrecks on lap 1.

But this time I actually had a fun, quick, 16 lap race at Charlotte in a Car of Tomorrow (VHR). I started 9th and passed a few cars, with a few other cars dropping out, and found myself in this battle for 3rd/4th/5th with only a couple of laps to go. I had the quicker car of the three of us, but wasn't able to get down the bottom where I was running best. Still, the three of us swapped positions several times and it was a ton of fun to finally have a clean public sim race with equal drivers.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Devil's D...



I've always been an asphalt racer, both in my limited time as a driver and my career in the pits. Up north dirt tracks just aren't that popular. But once I moved down south here, I went to Ohsweken Speedway for the Canadian Sprint Car Nationals, and was blown away. I can't comment about DRIVING on it, as I haven't done that yet, but from an entertainment perspective, it's hard to beat really fast cars on a dirt track. Even the 4 cylinder and Street Stock classes put on an awesome show.

Since we took a break from putting the car together for next year, Tara and I decided to check out the one track in this area we hadn't been to yet: South Buxton Raceway, located near Merlin, Ontario. This was in the middle of September of course, but the night was cool without being cold.

We watched all four classes (Pure Stock 4, Pro Stock, Modifieds and Late Models) race for their season finale championship. I came away with a real appreciation for the technicality of a dirt track.

First off, I must make it clear that the track was in HORRIBLE shape. Having been to Ohsweken on a number of occasions, we never had anything but crystal clear visibility, amazing track conditions with just the right amount of tack, very little dust, and tons of speed. South Buxton was a whole other animal--it was greasy, slippery, and dusty as all hell. To make matters worse, we had forgotten to bring the safety glasses we usually do. Sitting in Turn 4 we got pelted with dust--no clay clobs, just dust. In the middle of a feature it was hard to see the entire field at certain times. I was told by a regular fan sitting next to me in the stands that it's often quite better than this--I hope so.



But having said that, I enjoyed myself. The track's 3/8 mile layout is quite unique; taking from its nickname, "The Devil's D", the entire front stretch is curved, while the back stretch is flat. As such, you come out of turn 4 with a ton of speed, gradually drifting wide onto the front "straight," all the while sideways, with your L/F tire up in the air. You're never actually straight. Then you dive hard into Turn 1, drift up a bit, then slow real hard for the much MUCH sharper Turn 2, slowly ease back on the throttle down the straight back stretch, and then slow heavy for the sharp Turn 3, before getting back on it early out of 4 again.

The picture from Turn 4 is pretty fantastic, as such. Watching a dozen late models blasting down the front stretch, from behind, with their wheels in the air, its a pretty interesting sight, and one you won't see at bigger tracks like Ohsweken. It's really quite surreal and I enjoyed it.

You can see what I mean with this video from turn 4:



The competition is quite good too--it definitely has the "old school country track" feel. The heats are run in Australian Elimination style--if you get passed, you leave the track. No points are awarded, just money. It really gives the drivers incentive to drive 100% at all times, I found it really interesting. Each class had some good competition, and clearly had some heroes and some villians, with drivers getting booed and drivers getting cheered. It made me feel at home, reminding me of North Bay Speedway's heyday. Despite being "just" a normal night with no touring classes, the stands were JAM packed and the 50/50 draw was almost $1000.

This upcoming weekend (September 26th) is their big UMP Late Model/Modified Shootout, which regularly draws 40+ competitors in both classes from Canada and the USA. Chris Ross is your defending winner, the first Canadian to win the Late Model division, and looking to repeat in front of a rabid crowd. I highly recommend you check it out, whether you've been to a dirt track or not--it's an amazing experience.

Just remember to bring safety glasses!

http://www.southbuxtonraceway.com

Friday, September 18, 2009

And So it Begins...




Montoya Sets New Track Record at NHIS

I'm telling you: 2009 Sprint Cup Champion. With ZERO wins.

Oh it's happening, folks.

I also see that Mark Martin has signed on 'til 2011 with GoDaddy.com as a sponsor. Kind of bittersweet for me--love being able to keep watching my all-time fav race... But pissed that I still have a REASON to watch the Cup series when it bores me to tears most of the time.

No word on where Carquest and Kellogg's are in this mess... Possibly associate sponsors. I hope so--I enjoy getting free Mark Martin gear at work!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Barrichello and Martin: Eerie similarities...

I'll keep my comments on the Renault bullshit brief:

Everyone involved should be ashamed; F1 has always been about money and power instead of racing, it's just that occasionally we get good racing as a byproduct. From all of Michael Schumacher's bullshit cheating (the man does not deserve to be the champion he is) to the whole McLaren-spying-on-Ferrari debacle, it's almost expected nowadays. But when you cross that line from enhancing your performance or forcing a track condition that shouldn't be under your control, to deliberately putting your own life and the lives of your fellow races in MORTAL DANGER, you don't belong in motorsport. Period.

On to a more cheerful topic...

Rubens Barrichello and Mark Martin--are these two guys the shit or what? Both are having amazing seasons; not necessarily statistically their best (yet), but in terms of attitude, fun-factor, and the drive to win.

The similarities are pretty startling:

- Rubens is only 37, but that's deemed "old" in F1 these days. Mark is 50, which is also deemed "old" in NASCAR.

- Both had limited success in their early big league careers, before landing that big name ride (Ferrari, Roush Racing)...

- Both spent the better part of that so-called "prime" of their career winning often, yet always playing bridesmaid and just not quite getting that championship they should've (both finishing 2nd in points on more than one occasion)...

- Both are fan favourites who enjoy a huge following.

- Both have the attitude that they're there to win, but also to have fun and just happy to be a part of the sport.

- Both were driving for shitty teams after leaving the big name rides (BAR, Ginn Racing) and looked like their careers might be over when those teams folded.

- And both are now driving for the top team in their respective series, racking up wins and fighting for the championship, in what many thought was the twilight of their careers.

It's really pretty amazing. And who wouldn't want to see either of these guys take the title? We've only got a couple months to find out...

9


Shane Acker's 9 is well and truly impressive. Not the best movie of the year for me (that's a tossup between District 9, Coraline and The Hangover--and I haven't seen The Hurt Locker yet), but plain and simple, 9 is worth seeing simply because it's something NEW.

I guess I'm ripping off Peter Jackson a little here, who defended District 9 by saying "it's nice to see some creativity in Hollywood" but... IT'S NICE TO SEE SOME CREATIVITY IN HOLLYWOOD. 9 isn't based off of a book or comic book, it isn't a sequel, and it isn't a remake of a 1970s or 1980s TV series.

Shane Acker thought it up all by himself, and at seems like that's hard to come by in Hollywood these days. Long story short, tiny automaton rag dolls fight machines in a post-apocalyptic future--think The Secret of Nym meets The Matrix. It's basically a good old fashioned fantasy quest... Newcomer defies the old status quo, awakens an evil force, fights the evil force, and finds out more about himself and his friends, and their origin, along the way.

And along the way we see some VERY cool stuff. A whole lot of steampunk inspired things (steampunk fans will know what I mean right in the opening montage), with a dash of cyberpunk--but what impresses even more than the characters and the action is the amazing visuals given by the nightmarish world they're in--some of them look absolutely stunning.

I also like that it's a nice manageable length. I used to think, starting with The Lord of the Rings trilogy, that sitting through a 3-hour movie was "getting my money's worth." Oftentimes since then, though, I've realized that most (MOST) movies that long are just too damn bulky and make me want to go home and crawl into bed about halfway through.

9 is only 91 minutes long, but it never feels rushed, and the action, characters and visuals, not to mention the originality, make you ignore the small plot problems with the origins of the characters or the explanation behind the hero's solution at the end of the movie. It's just plain fun to watch.

9 out of 10.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Crafton... and What Makes a Champion


Alright, good, I'm not the only one with some sanity.

Then there's this moron...

I don't even know where to begin with this. On the one hand, we agree that Crafton wasn't at fault; but then he goes on a tirade about the Truck series being boring, and having sucked since 2001 when they got the high compression engines........ Uuuuh, wtf Truck Series are you watching? This season is definitely the exception to the rule--assuming Hornaday doesn't have some trouble and Crafton catches up, which is still a possibility.

The racing in the Truck series for the past several years has been easily the best of the three major series--awesome side-by-side racing, a variety of great short tracks, non-restrictor plate super speedway racing with REAL drafting, and more importantly, GREAT championship battles that consistently come down to the last race of the season. This is ESPECIALLY true of the last two seasons, plus the season that Kvapil won the title. The racing has been awesome, plain and simple. I won't disagree that the "top teams" run near the front, but that's the same in any series; those top teams are still putting on the best racing on the planet.

Moving onto this statement:

These factors have left Hornaday with few challengers. This season, his greatest competition each week comes from Crafton - a driver who has only one career win (none this season) and just 29 Top-5 finishes in 215 career Truck Series starts.


Okay, and? How is it the fault of the SERIES that Kyle Busch came in and dominated four races, or that Hornaday has put together a dream season? The first time in recent MEMORY that anyone's put together a dream season, by the way...

This brings me to my next point: What makes a Champion.

If there's one argument I hate about the current Chase debacle, it's that "champions need to win all the races..." Plain and simple, stockcar racing has always been more about consistency. The days of having Richard Petty win ten races in a season or Jeff Gordon winning thirteen are becoming more and more scarce, as rules continue to level the playing field (whether that's good or not is another argument entirely.) To assume that a driver who "only" wins once or twice a year is somehow not deserving of racing for the championship is absurd.

When Matt Kenseth won the championship having won only one race, it wasn't really anything new--Terry Labonte won both his championships with only two wins, and Benny Parsons won his with only one win too. Where was all the whining and bitching then? It wasn't around, because REAL racing fans were the majority of fans watching back then, and they appreciated the consistency these guys posessed.

Consistency, in my opinion, is way more impressive than going out there and winning. People are actually saying Kyle Busch "deserves" to be in the Chase more than someone like Bryan Vickers or, for that matter, Juan Montoya? They're insane. The #18 team has proven only one thing: they're fast as hell, and inconsistent as hell. They "deserve" whatever finish they get, Chase or otherwise.

The mark of a true Champion, plain and simple, is NOT winning. It's the ability to overcome adversity.

I'm no big Jimmie Johnson fan, but he illustrates this perfectly anyway. How many times in the last few years have we seen Johnson have a crappy night, ill handling, involved in a wreck, screw-up in the pits, running somewhere down in the 20s, or even two or THREE laps down... And by the end of the night, he finishes 6th or 7th!? THAT is the mark of a Champion, and the mark of a championship-calibre team: the ability to never give up, never say die, and constantly improve on a bad situation.

You can't blame his team (or Montoya's, for that matter) for working the system. It's another argument entirely as to whether The Chase is a good idea (I think it blows), but do you REALLY think that Johnson, if we were on the old points system, wouldn't still be winning championships? They work whatever system they run in.

Which is why Crafton is every bit a legitimate threat in the Truck series. He's a veteran who's been around for several years; he has consistent sponsor backing and a great team, and he is the very picture of consistency. Has he won a lot? Hell no, he's only won once. But talk about bad luck, the guy has been leading so often near the end of a race only to lose it at the last second, it must be hard for his team to keep coming back. But they do. They never give up, they never back down, and like he said, he "ain't afraid." I respect that.

One of these days, someone is going to win a Championship without winning a race. And I will laugh my ass off at Brian France for hours, and toast the champion. I've been a Mark Martin fan since I was 9, and he's the top seed in the points right now, and I want him to win so damn bad it hurts.

But if he isn't gonna take it, I could think of nothing more satisfying than seeing Juan Montoya become the 2009 Sprint Cup Champion--without winning a single race.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Bodine is a Tard




Am I the only one who thinks Crafton didn't do anything wrong?

For those who didn't see the truck race from Gateway, you can see the recap at http://www.nascar.com/2009/news/headlines/truck/09/12/post.race.mskinner.wins.gateway/index.html.

Basically, Crafton had the fastest truck, especially on short runs toward the end of the race. On a late restart, Bo-whine blatantly blocked him into Turn 1, cutting him right off. Crafton was damn-near in the grass and had nowhere to go--the only way to avoid getting into Bodine at that time would be to spin himself out--with 10 laps to go. So he spun him. Sucks that Braun got caught up in the wreck, but Crafton did NOTHING wrong. And what does Bodine do? His usual bitching, saying that he did, in fact, want to block him, did it all on purpose, and expected Crafton to just slam on the brakes? Gimme a friggin' break. Blocking like that on a short track (or near enough to one) is just stupid.

And as far as the spin on Hornaday... I've been a huge Hornaday fan since the mid-90s, he's the man but... He still cut Crafton off, tucked him down way too far, and Crafton's hungry for a win and racing for a championship. What did he expect him to do? For ONCE the master of restarts got a bad restart, and Crafton pounced.

So instead Crafton ends up with a black flag and has to race from 12th to 6th at the finish. He cut into Hornaday's lead by a few points, but not nearly as many as he would have from the win.

I'm definitely not a believer that wreckin is racin', but there was no fault of Crafton's in that race--Hornaday had been aggressive and choppy the entire race, and Crafton didn't make down. Plain and simple.

What sucks is that Bo-whine is gonna end up wrecking Crafton next week just for the hell of it. And that's a shame, because Crafton's run might've meant an actual championship fight, on par with the last few seasons in the Trucks, instead of Hornaday walking away with it.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

I can't even escape religion in MY OWN BLOG


"My" Profile:

Are you fucking kidding me, it lists astrological signs and the year of the zodiac? I didn't sign up for this! But I can't find a way to remove it without hiding my profile entirely. Argh.

efnet#cars Historic GT & Touring Car League




We've just finished our fourth successful season over at the efnet#cars HGT&TC sim-racing league. I ended the season 3rd in points, with 5 wins and 4 poles, but struggled with consistency in the #66 Corvette Coupe. Still pretty happy with the results, and at the end of September we'll be starting our Winter Series.

We race 9:30 PM EST on Sundays, with a 14-round season ending before Christmas. Two classes, TC-2 for novices, and TC-1 for experienced racers. We use rFactor, one of the most popular pieces of sim racing software, and the Historic GT & Touring Car Mod (60s sports cars and touring cars.)

We're also starting our Monday night fun races this coming Monday, starting with 6 races in the NAGT mod (SPEED World Challenge), before we move to the Porsche Carerra Cup, and so on and so on. Gotta get some modern cars in the mix for variety.

Anyone interested in racing with us, all you need is a wheel and a half-decent computer. You can sign up at http://www.efnetcars.com .

First! lol




Sitting here watching the Richmond race before the Chase cutoff. Looks like Mark's just about a lock, so I'm happy (or as happy as I can be with the current NASCAR "system.")

So I figured I'd give this blog thing a try, if for no other reason than I can put my thoughts down on (digital) paper. As mentioned in the banner, I like racing, especially stockcar racing, but I really love all motorsports. I also love science fiction and fantasy literature, Mixed Martial Arts, sim racing, video games, metal music, and outdoorsy stuff. So hey, if this thing takes off, I guess we'll see plenty of sci-fi nerds, and plenty of car guys checking the page out.

My team's currently finishing up a Super Stock Monte Carlo for competition at Delaware Speedway here in London, in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. Should be a good run for the 2010 Rookie of the Year.

I'm also an open, proud, out-of-the-closet Atheist. I will happily and regularly shit on all manner of organized religion on these pages, for the absurdity that it is.

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