Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix Day 1

Greetings motorheads!  This is Cody (@theSAABwriter) reporting from my airport-overlooking hotel room in Romulus, MI. I’m only slightly distracted by planes on the glide path in front of my face…

I’m here for the Belle Isle GP – IZOD IndyCar Series, Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series, and Pirelli World Challenge GT and GTS classes.

For photos, see my feed on Twitter. Technology and signal here is not being cooperative with uploading them anywhere but Twitter (and consequently my Facebook).

 

IndyCar Belle Isle Update

This week brought sudden news of J.R. Hildebrand’s release from Panther Racing, which dominated the press this morning.  Silver lining: Ryan Briscoe is replacing him for the rest of the year, minus his ALMS conflicts. Theory: If Dryer & Reinbold can sort out their contractual issues with Oriol Servia (upon the closure of that team after Indy), we could see the veteran Spaniard behind the wheel of that National Guard car when Briscoe is out.

Short downpour makes for an interesting qualifying! The rain ceased just before Q1 went green, which meant the laps got faster and faster as time wore on.  By the time the Firestone Fast 6 session rolled around, cars were quickly discovering they needed to pit and change to the soft dry tire. The starting order was a bit interesting, however…

Dario Franchitti snatched pole for tomorrow’s first race of the weekend but will start P11 tomorrow because of a grid penalty. This puts EJ Viso on pole, followed by P2 Mike Conway and P3 James Jakes – names we don’t often see at the sharp end!

The crowd got a bit of excitement at Belle Isle’s backstretch complex when Scott Dixon had a harmless spin (read: burnout) and went on his way with no more than a local yellow in Q2.  That sessoin was red-flagged with roughly two minutes remaining when Helio Castroneves spun and parked his car just past an apex.  He didn’t look pleased on the jumbo-tron…

Grand-Am Day 1 at Belle Isle pleasent for GM

Jordan Taylor and codriver Max Angelelli took their Wayne Taylor Racing Chevrolet Corvette Daytona Prototype to pole for tomorrow’s two-hour race, leading a quartet of Corvette DPs in the top five.

If you’re not a sports car racing fan, I think you really will be after seeing Jordan Taylor, his older brother Ricky, and their friends lip-syncing RuPaul style in homemade music videos.  They are absolutely hysterical, and one of them even features the fine gentlemen shirtless… YouTube them now. They’re a great bunch of guys.

Know who’s another great guy?  Veteran sports car and open-wheel driver Max Papis.  Mad Max took the GT class pole in his AIM Autosport Ferrari 458.

GX class pole goes to Tom Long in his Speedsource Mazda 6 Skyactiv diesel.  The two Mazdas look fantastic and sound like trucks (not a bad thing to me – I’m a bus driver now as a day job), but Belle Isle is a rough ole street circuit, so we’ll see how long it takes both Mazdas to break tomorrow.  They tend to do that a lot.  My win money goes to the only other car in the GX class: a Porsche Cayman that clearly has a H-pattern gearbox based on how it sounds in braking zones. They’ve won the GX class in every race bar one so far this year…

Shout Out

I have to give a big shoutout to a Twitter buddy of mine who I finally had the pleasure of meeting today: Jeremy Scott (@jscottontheair) – an up and coming road racing broadcast personality (who’s always looking for work! Much like me, his print-media counterpart and also broadcasting-hopeful) who currently is working with the Intercontinental Trophy Cup series for Porsche Caymans. Follow the man on Twitter. He’s delightful (and so is his girlfriend of 2.5 years – harass him for the story of how they met – so cute).

 

Stay tuned for tweets (@theSAABwriter, and my trip buddy Eric, @theTrueRaceFan) and another full text and photo update tomorrow if possible, and by Sunday for sure (I’m only at the track tomorrow – headed home after the IndyCar race).

Oh, and did I mention a lot of my non-action photos will be in the paddock?  If you go to a race, it’s the place to be. Last year I met Dr. McDreamy, and we regularly run into Robin Miller, John Dagys, Calvin Fish, Brian Till, and Dorsey Shroeder. I may be meeting briefly with SPEED’s Marshall Pruett tomorrow morning, and I’d like to grab Dagys and some others for quick quotes.

See you at the races!

Not That You Asked, Adam’s 2012 Wishes

Queers4Gears contributor Adam Lovelace lays out his best wishes for the 2012 racing season:

  • A safe season for all racing series first and foremost!
  • Huge, major sponsors for Queers4gears.com so we can go to every single race!
  • I wish you all would listen every week to the Q4G Out of the Tunnel podcast. In fact, listen now right here: CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE SHOW
  • Dale Earnhardt Jr wins races and the championship even. Hey, I can wish big.
  • I hope Danica Patrick out performs and shuts up the haters. I hope she wins races.
  • I wish for less haters everywhere, not just racing.
  • I hope the Busch brothers get another big helping of humble. They need it. I’m not hating, just wishing.
  • I hope Queers4gears founder, Michael, starts being stalked by Kasey Kahne.
  • I wish Indycar would race on more ovals, or that the road courses were more competitive. Either one.
  • Every ARCA race televised! The ones they do televise are generally NOT the best ARCA races to watch. You are missing some good racing not seeing the short tracks. SPEED is a channel; they should show more racing of all types.
  • I want to listen to Sirius NASCAR online. It is 2012. I listen in the car for about 20 mins on the way to work and 20 mins on the way home. You know what lots of folks have access to during the day? Computers and mobile devices! I could listen all day. In fact, I pay extra to listen online, but one of the few channels I can’t get online? You guessed it.
  • Speaking of Sirius NASCAR, how about live qualifying and practice? Why not?
  • While I’m at it, how about some kind of app available to ALL smartphones? Again, it’s 2012. Keep up.
  • I wish the following would be banned from all tracks: the word boogity, all politicians of any persuasion, confederate flags (let’s move on), and Lee Greenwood songs.
  • I wish the Daytona 500 was still the day before a holiday. It was much better that way.
  • No rainouts, for any series.
  • More Friday/Saturday night races.
  • Autoclub Speedway should be reconfigured. While that’s being done Bruton Smith should remember what he did in Vegas and bring that to Kentucky Speedway. I think it greatly improved the racing.
  • I wish for all races to end two or three wide at the finish line.
  • I wish for all championships to be decided on the last lap of the last race of the season.
  • I wish for more first time winners. I love seeing drivers and teams get their first win.
  • I wish for more sell out races for all series.
  • I hope this two-car tandem racing in NASCAR is coming to an end. I’ll take the pack racing anyday.
  • Side by side commercials all the time. I love that feature and I see more commercials that way. Seems like wise marketing to me!
  • And, a shameless plug for myself, I wish someone from the racing world would call me. Offer me a job. I have many skills you need.
  • I hope you all have a wonderful new year and enjoy the 2012 racing season!!

As the Firestone Turns: Meet Monica Hilton

Meet Monica Hilton:  Formerly of HVM Racing, and the mastermind behind the loveable Pork Chop, Monica is now in charge of PR for Bryan Herta Autosport as they embark on their first full season of IndyCar competition with Alex Tagliani in the Barracuda Networks #98.  She is also the founder and owner of 242MPH (Marketing & PR by Hilton).

Q:  First off, how is life a Bryan Herta Autosport?

MH:  Ohhhh man, life is GOOD. And busy, which I love. Honestly, I can’t believe how lucky I am to be working with this team, now officially called “Team Barracuda – BHA.” There’s a consistent air of excitement and you can genuinely see how proud everyone is to be part of a cohesive, fun and dedicated group. On top of that, you have Bryan Herta and Steve Newey, who are such great guys. I’m so impressed by the integrity and hearing a team owner take the time to say, “Thank you. You’re doing a great job” on a regular basis to the whole team. It’s… magical.

Monica-Hilton-chair-648x1024

Q:  What led you to become involved in the IndyCar series?

I attended my first Indy 500 in 2005 and I honestly only went to check it off my proverbial bucket list. I got the invite from my dad, who grew up in Indiana and has attended every Indy 500 since he was 18 years old. At the time, I was living in Wisconsin and had held various marketing/PR/advertising positions, but then I heard those magical words: “Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines!” From that moment, I knew that this was the direction I wanted for my life. I can’t really explain it. I’ve really enjoyed a variety of sports in my life, but there’s a certain passion for IndyCar that can’t be matched. So I packed up and moved to Indy. The journey, once I got here, is a whole different story. Better told over a cocktail, I’d say.

Q:  You were previously at HVM Racing and the woman behind the viral celebrity Dallara, Porkchop (and Janet prior to her untimely demise at Indy).  How did the idea develop to give the cars a personality and lives of their own?

MH:  That is a darn good question. And one which I am no longer legally able to discuss. Seriously. But let’s just say that I truly appreciate all the support last year and hope everyone had some fun. Honestly, I kind of miss that car.

Q:  You are actively involved in Racing for Cancer and the IndyCar Calendar.  Tell us a little about that and how everyone can get involved and stay up-to-date on both?

MH:  I’m so proud to be involved with both of these great causes. I’ve been working with David (producer of the IndyCar calendar) for several years now  – he’s a great business man with a passion for IndyCar who decided to do something good for racing-related charities. So he created this AMAZING calendar (designed by IZOD) and all of the proceeds benefit Racing For Cancer, Racing For Kids and Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation. Fans can purchase them online at www.UMPonline.com/calendar. There’s also a twitter account, @INDYCARcalendar, and facebook page: www.facebook.com/INDYCARcalendar.

Racing For Cancer is a fairly new organization (founded in 2010), but they’re here with a mighty plan: to fight cancer. CEO Tom Vossman is extremely dedicated and has a focus this year on fighting pediatric cancer. We’re working on a great event that will take place in Indy during the month of May. Stay tuned for details and check out www.RacingForCancer.org in the meantime. You can also follow @RacingForCancerand “like” www.facebook.com/RacingForCancer.

Q:  You also are quite the entrepreneur as founder and owner of 242MPH (Marketing & PR by Hilton).  Tell us about that endeavor.

Monica-Hilton-FB-683x1024MH:  I love it when a plan comes together. (*soap opera laugh*) I’m actually amazed with how well everything worked out with the business. I knew I loved doing race-team PR, but also wanted the chance to make a difference with a charitable organization. What started with a “think outside the box” moment lead to something incredible and I’m so thankful for all three of the clients who have given me an opportunity to show them what I can do.

Q:  Obviously, most of your time is spent at or around the racetrack or shop.  What are some activities that you enjoy in your free time?

MH:  I’d say my free time, although scarce, is a good mix of relaxing and socializing. An ideal night would be a great dinner out with friends (and wine!) followed by a hockey game (go Canucks!) I’m also into fitness and just completed week three of P90X. Insanity is next. As Tony Horton would say, “I hate it. But I love it.” I’m also a HUGE animal lover – dogs especially – so I’m hoping to volunteer this year with the Humane Society.

Q:  What would you say to a race fan, or someone with just a slight curiosity in motorsports, that has never been to an IndyCar event?

MH:  Two pieces of advice:

  • Go. To. The. Race. The best way to experience an IndyCar race is in person. There’s absolutely nothing like hearing (and feeling) the roar of the engines and seeing how fast those cars really go. Once you go, you’ll be hooked. And once you’re hooked, please also watch on TV because we need the ratings.
  • Go with a die-hard fan. I’ve always said that racing isn’t fun if you’re just watching cars go around in circles. Same with any sport – you have to have someone to root for. If you go with someone who knows the storylines and can answer your questions, it’s a much more exciting experience. Or come find me in the paddock. I’ll help you out.

Ok, now for the lightening round:

Hamburger or Hotdog? I want to say hamburger, but it feels like the wrong demographic for that.

Thoughts on glitter? LOVE.

High heels or flats? Heels. Because heels make me smile. And a smile is the best thing you can wear.

Ugliest car ever made… It’s a toss-up between my first car (brown Delta 88) and a Smart car. Or what’s that Scion thing that looks like a box?

Pajama pants should only be worn in public when… Your house burned down & you happened to be wearing them when it happened.

Britney Spears or Madonna? Gotta go with Britney. You’re welcome, Ross.

Biggest pet peeve? Negativity. It is REALLY hard to hang around “glass half empty” kind of people.

What’s one song you sing the loudest to when you are in your car alone? ONE?! I rock a great mix of everything from Lady Gaga to Air Supply. And I can’t even sing.

Q:  Finally, is there anything you’d like to tell our readers or discuss that you never get a chance to mention or are asked about?

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.

KenTengesdal

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……………