Month: January 2012

The State of the Website

Gentleman who like Gentleman, and Ladies who like Ladies – the State of Queers4Gears is strong!

2011 was a banner year for Q4G.  We welcomed new contributors Ross Bynum (Indy), Cody Globig (V8 & F1) and Carla Page (NASCAR).  They share our love for racing and making people laugh….making them a perfect addition to the crew.  Troy Germain and Michael Myers pumped out the weekly podcast: “The Queers4Gears Radio Hour” – and while it wasn’t on the radio and sometimes didn’t last an hour – we appreciate you listening each week.

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Queers4Gears was profiled in two newspapers in 2011:  The Santa Rosa Press Democrat and The Las Vegas Review Journal.

One of the year’s highlights was when YOU – our readers and twitter followers donated to support Q4G founder Michael Myers in the Las Vegas AIDS Walk.  Q4G readers donated $1545.00 and that amount was matched by Penn and Teller!  Thanks to you – over $3000.00 was donated by Queers4Gears to AFAN (Aid for AIDS of Nevada.)

Site traffic made a dramatic jump this year.  Q4G moved to a new server host – and during the transition a technician asked if we still wanted the site blocked from the bots.  We were not aware that the “bots” used by search engines to index material for your searches was being blocked from Q4G until late this year.

Once we invited the bots in…. traffic jumped from an average of 3,500 unique visitors per month to over 12,000!

In 2012 – we are adding a new podcast, Michael Myers and Hannah Rickards will be covering action off of the track this season in “Out of the Tunnel.”

Keep your eyes open for weekly recurring race commentary that we hope will keep you laughing.

See ya at the track……………

Colin McRae, the WRC, and Team Orders

I’ve been sitting in bed watching “Colin McRae Pedal to the Metal” tonight.  You know, instead of doing my massive piles of other news/feature story assignments for school…

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For those of you who don’t know, Scotsman Colin McRae was one of the world’s best rally drivers (WRC World Champion for Subaru in 1995) before his tragic death in a helicopter accident in 2007.  His name may be familiar to some of you gamers as the namesake of the original DiRT rallying video games.

The documentary got me thinking about the dreaded topic in Formula One: team orders.

In 1995, McRae was embroiled in a bitter title fight with his own Subaru teammate Carlos Sainz.  At the penultimate round of the World Rally Championship, Sainz held a few second lead over McRae the entire rally.  McRae was trying like hell to beat Sainz’s stage times throughout the final day of the rally when Prodrive team boss David Richards pulled him aside at a service park.  He told Colin to back off and stay in second-position so Sainz would win the rally.

Colin didn’t like that, so he disobeyed team orders and went flat out over the second-to-last stage, which put him ahead of Sainz in the running order, and one step closer to another rally victory that year, which meant one step closer to the coveted WRC crown.

Dave Richards then gave Colin the ultimatum: ‘You disobeyed team orders.  You check in to your final control point late (to receive a time penalty and fall back behind Sainz) or this will be your last rally with Subaru, ever.’ (paraphrase)

Facing the termination of his contract, Colin wisely obeyed Richards’ wishes and incurred a time penalty that enabled Sainz to win the rally…  At the final round of the year, Colin’s home round – the RAC Rally of Great Britain – he pushed as hard as possible and won the rally, and hence, the World Rally Championship for 1995.  Colin McRae was now immortalized.

This circumstance begs the question though: Why team orders at all?

In Formula One, where team orders (in various guises) have been around since the inception of Grand Prix racing, I’ve always found that team orders were acceptable.  1.) It’s tradition  2.)If I was a team principle, I wouldn’t want my two drivers to battle so hard that they take each other out of a race and have the entire team score no points at all…

It’s different in the sport of rallying, though.  Cars do not compete wheel-to-wheel.  They are only out on closed public roads, one stage at a time, one CAR at a time (usually cars launch into a stage at two-minute intervals), only battling the clock.  Whoever has the lowest stage time when all cars have run is the winner of the stage.  Combine all the times and whoever has the lowest total time wins the rally.

If there is no risk of teammates taking each other out completely, why on Earth invoke those team orders at all?  I don’t understand it.  McRae and Sainz could have both gone flat-chat and potentially have been perfectly fine in the end.  OK, I’ll admit that Colin always did have a penchant for throwing his car off the road – sometimes multiple times in the same day – but he did that all the time.  Colin never drove harder to try and beat the time of his opponents – he ALWAYS was flat out.

So I’d like to know, what are your thoughts on team orders?  They’re legal again in F1; the WRC has seen them often as well.  As covert as they may be sometimes, they’re even carried out in NASCAR, IndyCar, and every other series that has multi-car teams.

@reply me on Twitter (@TheSAABwriter), comment below, Facebook me (Cody Globig).   Help me understand WHY!

Guest Blog – F1 Driver Mike Beuttler Remembered

This week Queers4Gears welcomes guest blogger Richard Bailey from www.RichardsF1.com.  Richard pays tribute to F1 Driver Mike Beuttler two plus decades after his death.  Bailey is an openly gay motorsport fan and journalist based in Australia, Queers4Gears hopes that you enjoy his tribute to a unique figure in the history of motorsports…

Mike-Beuttler-asag.sk_Twenty-four years ago, former F1 driver Mike Beuttler passed away. His name might only be of significance to true F1 aficionados, but his colorful and all-too-brief life is worth paying tribute to, for he remains the only F1 driver known to be gay.

His death in 1988 to AIDS makes him one of the many of his era to succumb to the crippling (and then, little-known) disease, but it was not just his sexuality – unique in the world of motorsport – that marked him out from his peers.

Beuttler was also a dedicated amateur in the then-semi-professional world of Formula 1, an all-but-extinct species in the now highly professional, corporate world that Formula 1 has become.

His support came from a group of London stockbroking friends (some of who were also gay), and while he may not have achieved the results that his talent perhaps warranted, his story is still fascinating.

Beuttler was born to English parents in the Egyptian capital of Cairo, where his family lived while his father served in the British Army during World War II.

Beuttler-Formula-2-formula-2.blogspot.com_His interest in motorsport was apparent throughout his childhood, and as soon as he left school at the age of sixteen, he took up an administrative role with racing enthusiast Graham Warner, whose Chequered Flag team was a regular entrant on the Formula 3 landscape.

Warner was interested in a little more than racing, it seems, and it was believed that Beuttler also captured his attentions…
Beuttler earned the odd opportunity to to pilot the team’s front-engined Gemini challenger, but it took until he was in his mid-twenties before his motor-racing career started in earnest.

It was in 1968 that he was finally able to drive a full season in Formula 3, courtesy of the backing of high-profile (and openly gay) stockbroker Ralph Clarke.

Over the next few years, Beuttler won several major races in his bright yellow Brabham – including the British Grand Prix support race – against the likes of fellow F1 up-and-comers James Hunt, Dave Walker, Dave Morgan and Tony Trimmer.

Beuttler’s desire to move up through the ranks had one unfortunate consequence: his tendency to regularly close the door on his pursuing rivals earned him the nickname ‘Blocker’, which stuck until his retirement from racing.

Beuttler now gained additional backing from the likes of other stockbrokers David Mordaunt, Alistair Guthrie and Jack Durlacher, and plans were laid to move into Formula 1 with a customer March chassis.

 

In the meantime, he competed in Formula 2, although the car was beset by a host of problems, and one of his few highlights was a win at the season-ending race at Vallelunga in Italy.

While he never confirmed the rumors, many of his contemporaries suspected that Beuttler and his backers enjoyed particularly close relationships on and off the track, although Beuttler would occasionally try and throw some off the scent by bringing along some rather busty young ladies to selected events! He wasn’t fooling anyone…

Beuttler’s F1 debut came at the 1971 British Grand Prix in a works March. He qualified twentieth of the twenty-four qualifiers, and retired with oil pressure problems. The remainder of his season was little better: he retired twice more, and in the other two races he failed to complete the minimum 90% of the race distance to be classified as a finisher.

He stayed for a full season in 1972, acquiring more backers but not achieving the race results that perhaps justified his friends’ continued investment. With March ruling that only its two works cars could field the latest chassis, Beuttler and his team took a modified March 722 Formula 2 chassis, which proved quicker than the works car!

His best finish that year was an eighth at the German Grand Prix, while he never managed to qualify inside the top-twenty.

Beuttler and his partners decided to give it another shot in 1973 – again with a March chassis – but his results were again discouraging. In fourteen races, his best qualifying result was an eleventh at Austria, while his best finish was seventh at the Spanish Grand Prix.

When the London financial scene suffered a dramatic collapse towards the end of the year, it effectively brought an end to Beuttler’s F1 foray, which totaled 28 championship starts.

Beuttler contested one more race – in sports cars, at the Brands Hatch 1000Km event – before quitting motorsport entirely and heading into business, and later trying his hand at journalism.

A shy, brooding and handsome man, Beuttler was well-regarded by many in the motorsport fraternity.
He later moved to San Francisco, and his passing (at age 48) just days before the end of 1988 brought a sad end to an all-too-short, yet very colorful, life.

 

You can learn more about this incredible man on the Mike Beuttler Tribute Page on Facebook.

Q4G Interview: Meet Luke Lucky Huff

LukeHuff2Luke Lucky Huff is a professional motorcycle racer from a small town in Ohio. He now resides in Los Angeles with his partner and is the owner of Lucky Management helping to promote careers in motorcycle racing. Luke plans to run a full season of AMA  as well as the WERA Motorcycle Roadracing &Willow Springs Motorcycle Club. The racing season begins this coming weekend, Jan 7 & 8 at Autoclub Speedway in Fontana, CA.  Queers4Gears’ Adam Lovelace sat down to ask Luke a few questions:

Q4G: Where are you from?

LH:  I was raised in the small rural farming community of the Village of Berkey, Ohio. I attended school in the same building from preschool, kindergarten, and 1-8th grade. I went on to St. Francis de Sales High School in the city of Toldeo, Ohio (our neighboring metropolis). After graduating, I wanted to pursue my passion at the time, filming professional skateboarding (and skateboarding myself). My parents helped me find an apartment and a job in San Diego and I was on my own on the other side of the country at age 19. After less than a year I yearned for more action than the sleepy town of Ocean Beach had to offer, so I moved north to Hollywood in the year 2000. I stayed in Hollywood for about 6 years during which time I had asked my parents to help me find a used motorcycle (my parents had owned a used car dealership in Ohio since 1982). When I found the one that I felt suited me, they surprised me by paying for it as a combined x-mas/birthday present in 2004! From then on, I slowly leaned toward sport bikes and learning how to go faster and began to love sport bike racing. In 2009, I was hit on the freeway and it forced me to re-think what I was doing on a bike. I had been riding canyons aggressively and knew I should probably start going to the track where aggressive riding belongs. This was the wake up call that I needed.

Q4G:  What series do you currently race in?
LH:   I currently participate in the following race series: AMA Pro Racing, WERA West, Willow Springs Motorcycle Club (WSMC), American Federation of Motorcyclists (AFM), California State Championship (CSC).

Q4G:  Did you really just start racing in 2010?
LH:   I bought a used Yamaha R6 in the summer of 2010, about a year after my accident on the street. I did a handful of trackdays in Aug/Sept. of ’10 and then picked up my novice race license that September.

Q4G:   Do you race full-time?
LH:    I would say I do race full-time in that I compete in some of the above mentioned series for their full seasons. Next year, I plan to attend the complete seasons of AMA, WERA West, WSMC, and CSC barring any conflicting dates between series. That should keep me busy from January till October in 2012.

Q4G:   How did you get started in racing?
LH:     Before I had the accident on the street, a friend of mine who had brought me under his wing to show me the ropes on how to ride a sport bike well had begun his own sport bike racing career. Jeremy Simmons had previously raced dirt bikes in his younger years and decided “why not see how far I can go with road racing motorcycles”. Due in part to that ideology and my recent accident, I thought I should adapt that idea and see if I can answer it on my own.

Q4G:   Do you follow any other racing series?
LH:    Sometimes I think I follow too many race series! haha. I’m pretty much up-to-date on the goings on in MotoGP, Moto2, 125s (soon to be Moto3), WSBK, WSS, BSB, AMA, Australian SBK, South African SBK, TT racing, TTXGP, and then there’s the 4-wheeled racing… WRC, ALMS, F1, etc.

Q4G:   Your Facebook page has a photo of you with Marco Simoncelli who was killed in October, 2011 in the Malaysian MotoGP race. How has his death affected you and/or the sport of motorcycle racing?

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Luke Huff and Marco Simoncelli

LH:   Many feel Marco’s death has put somewhat of a dark cloud on the risk involved. Just this past weekend, I had organized 2 screenings of the new MotoGP documentary, “FASTEST” with director, Mark Neale. In the documentary, Marco Simoncelli is interviewed and shown repeatedly because it was finished before his passing. Many said they find it more difficult to watch and it makes it somewhat sad to see. I find it the exact opposite. Marco clearly had a love of life and his life was centered around his love of racing. Many pictures, quotes, etc demonstrate his passion for racing and seeing him on the screen again, being shown more of his personality, and watching him race one more time just invigorates my soul and makes me want to live my life as much as he did. I had the chance to meet him very briefly when the photo was taken and he was more than happy to allow a whole crowd of fans take pictures and ask questions during an impromptu visit to his garage at Laguna Seca in 2010.

Q4G:   Not only do you race, but you also own your own management company where you represent other riders? Tell us about that and how that is going?
LH:   My entire life I’ve always held management positions in various lines of work. I always find myself somehow directed to management whether I do it consciously or not. When I had decided to go racing myself, I think I had 3 sponsors before I had my race license. My brain just can’t stop thinking like a business, so I address those issues before silly things like having a license. I had 13 sponsors on my list by the time I held a novice license for just 2 months. Many of my friends I raced against didn’t understand how I did it because most racers have the mind-set of “I go fast, then sponsors come to me”. Using this knowledge, I noticed many incredibly talented riders were struggling with obtaining sponsors and more importantly, funding. I thought to myself, I seem to have this innate ability to make the business side of anything work, so I took on one racer that was destined for greatness, Bryce Prince. As a purely voluntary effort, I wanted to help Bryce gain more sponsorship and help direct his career as he began his transition from winning multiple club racing championships to racing on the Pro level in AMA for 2012. As I started to explore what he would need and how to get him the proper funding, I realized there are a lot of people in the same situation, and none of them seem to understand the complexity of their situation. At that point, I decided to form Lucky Management where I could represent a variety of racers and hopefully enable them to go racing at the pro level. I just recently launched my new website: www.Lucky-Management.com which is a B2B website to help facilitate my goals of drawing out funding for my riders. The initial response has been wonderful and I’m in discussions with numerous companies to make this work for 2012. I’m taking a new approach to sponsorships where the companies are forming partnerships with the riders and their team managers to fulfill whatever needs the companies have specific to them. Gone are the days when a fast rider can slap a sticker on his bike and ask for a big chunk of money. Now we must be open-minded and get creative to bring those companies a better and more real return on their investment. The roles have changed and we are now given the responsibility of pleasing the needs of the partners (sponsors).

Q4G:   You are putting together a fund-raising charity race to benefit cancer research. How is that going? Do you have any details that can be released yet?LukeHuff-300x199
LH:   I can tell you the fund-raiser is a motorcycle race event which will be held at Willow Springs International Raceway after the end of the 2012 AMA Pro Racing season has ended. The beneficiary is www.CancerResearch.org. The event is tentatively scheduled for September 30th, 2012 but the exact date has not been confirmed. The idea behind the event is to bring together motorcycle racers from across the country to raise donations for cancer research and do what we know (racing) to give back to the community. I’m expecting a lot of participation from racers of many different series including, AMA, WERA, WSMC, AFM, CSC, CVMA, etc. We may even have a guest or two from outside of the US. As soon as more details are established, a website and Facebook page will be set up and the word will go out in force.

Q4G:   What are your future aspirations?
LH:    My main focus is the management company. I view that as my long-term project that I will continue to fine-tune and operate for many many years to come. Over time, I would like to build the site much larger to include partnership opportunities with racers and teams around the world in various motorsports, not just motorcycle racing. For 2012, I’m planning to run my first season of AMA Pro Supersport to further push that idea of “how far can I go in road racing?”. I would like to win a couple club racing championships as well. I will always be working for the riders I represent, even when I’m at my own race weekend. IPhone in hand and laptop open constantly doing whatever I can to improve the business and help their careers. I also just had an article written about me in the December issue of RoadRacing World magazine on pages 76 & 77.

Q4G:    Being openly gay in the series, have you had any negative reactions with competitors or the sanctioning body?
LH:    Being openly gay in racing sounds like a difficult marriage of personalities, but it’s not really. One’s sexual preference rarely comes up at the race track other than an occasional cat call or comment about women in general. Since almost every race series also has women racers that regularly beat many of the guys out there, the comments are quickly dissipated when someone makes a remark about that same girl passing them and knowing how to race a bike better. The same can be said about negative comments about gay people in general. It’s very rare I’ve ever heard anyone act or speak with a homophobic tone at the track. Even then, the person who made the comment in poor taste would usually apologize later when word gets around to them that I or someone else in the paddock is in fact gay. I don’t feel that I have any larger hurdles to clear than any other racer in the paddock and the sheer fact that your performance on the track by you alone riding your motorcycle is one of the reasons I’m so drawn to this sport. No one can claim they are faster or better. They either beat you on the track or they didn’t. Lucky for me, not many have.LukeHuffLogo

Q4G:   I see that you are engaged. Does he race, or is he involved with racing?
LH:    I put my status as “engaged” more as a joke because well, I can’t be engaged to another man in the State of California. I have been with my partner, Danny, for a few years now and he doesn’t have much interest in riding a motorcycle after dealing with my accident a couple years ago when our relationship was still new. Although it worries him to see me risk so much on the track, he knows it’s my passion and it’s not something that can be taken away. Danny is slowly accepting the idea that I’m going to be involved in racing more and more, so who knows; maybe we’ll get him on the track some day.