Live to Travel the World

I like to travel quite a bit. For me there is nothing like the freedom which travelling is able to provide to a person; to see the wider world that’s beyond your own nation’s boundaries is the ultimate expression of human freedom. It’s a basic fundamental human right to be able to travel. Indeed, it’s something that humankind has done throughout the entirety of its own meager youthful existence on the planet. We’ve migrated to every continent on the planet so what’s to stop me from working at a shop printing in Brisbane even if I’m from the United States – Kentucky, of all places. When I look back on my Facebook to see how few of my friends from high school have chosen to travel themselves I’m always blown away. Some of them haven’t even left the tiny town that the majority of us grew up in and fewer still have actually left the state itself. Read more… »

NASCAR Statement on Indiana’s Religious Freedom Law

nascar-racing-logo-image-1024x372

NASCAR issued a statement about the controversial new Religious Freedom Law in Indiana – home of the Brickyard 400 at IMS.

“NASCAR is disappointed by the recent legislation passed in Indiana. We will not embrace nor participate in exclusion or intolerance. We are committed to diversity and inclusion within our sport and therefore will continue to welcome all competitors and fans at our events in the state of Indiana and anywhere else we race.”

NASCAR has not been silent on similar issues in the past.  In 2014, before a race in Phoenix, Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed a similar law that passed in Arizona. At that time NASCAR said, ““We are pleased with Arizona Governor Jan Brewer’s veto of SB1062. NASCAR actively strives to promote diversity and inclusion throughout the motorsports industry. NASCAR has a zero tolerance policy against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, race, gender, national origin, age, color, disability, religion, or other factors which deny the essential humanity of all people.”

In 2013 when driver Nelson Piquet Jr posted a homophobic slur on social media, the sanctioning body fined the driver and released a statement saying , “Nelson Piquet Jr. recently communicated an offensive and derogatory term that cannot be tolerated in our sport. NASCAR’s Code of Conduct explicitly spells out in the 2013 rule book our position regarding the use of disparaging terms. We expect our entire industry to abide by this Code.”

 

The Phoenix Gaynalysis – 8 Men Enter

B2Cm-CVIcAIwQ1M

8 men enter.  Only 4 leave. Sounds like a fun night!

Kevin Harvick had one job to do….and he did it, happily winning the Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 at Phoenix International Raceway.   The driver of the #4 Budweiser did it commanding fashion, leading 264 of 312 laps.

The win locks Harvick into the Final Four Spots that will decide the Championship next week in North Cuba.  No other driver had anything for the #4 as Harvick lept to a commanding lead on every restart – despite a record 12 cautions giving others ample opportunities.

The other three spot locks were more fluid than a baby’s diaper as the race wore on in front of a sold out crowd in the desert.

Locking in are Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano and Ryan Newman.   Knocked out contention were Jeff Gordon, Carl Edwards, Brad Keselowski and Matt Kenseth.

The 4th spot was yanked out of Jeff Gordon’s hand on the last lap when Ryan Newman  “moved” Kyle Larson in Turn 4 – sealing his chance to compete for the Sprint Cup.

Gordon squared off “West Side Story Style” with Brad Keselowski last week in Texas after Bad-Brad made a move to try and steal the victory.  When asked about Newman making a similar move today to knock him out of contention, Gordon said, “it made last week even tougher to swallow,” adding, “if (that move) is acceptable then, it is acceptable now.”

Newman made it into the final four by the skin of his neck. For his part, on bumping Larson, Newman said, “I did what I had to do, I don’t like racing like that. I didn’t take him out. He still finished the race. In a day or two, he’ll understand.”

Never give up!  It is a lesson we were all taught as a kid but a lesson that Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano really took to heart today.

On lap 32 Hamlin got a flat tire during a pit stop when the valve stem was knocked off by the air gun. The odd incident caused Denny to pit a second time and lose a lap.  Many wrote off the #11 team but they fought back for a 5th place finish.

Logano’s day seemed to run downhill several times.  On lap 124, during a pit stop the #22 team was penalized for removing equipment from the pit box.  Starting in the back of the field, it didn’t take long for the lightning quick Harvick to put Logano a lap down.  On lap 212 when Kyle Busch and Clint Bowyer made contact, Joey went low to avoid the #18 and in the process contacted Danica Patrick.

The contract resulted in a tire rub on the #22.  After the race Logano said, “We (Danica) hit pretty hard but it didn’t knock the toe out. When NASCAR threw the red flag we had time to talk about the damage on the radio and for me to calm down.”  The #22 quickly pulled the fender out and kept Logano in contention.  JoLo fought to the end and finished P6, sealing his place in the final four on points.  His teammate, Brad Keselowski, didn’t fair so well at PIR.

Former Cup Champion Keselowski, who had the most wins of any driver this season needed to win again at PIR to grab one of those final four spots. He finished fourth – but that was three spots short.  The #2 had several shots at Harvick on multiple restarts but Miller Light had nothing for Budweiser today.

“We were just a little bit short,” said Keselowski. “Kevin was really, really strong all day long. We just weren’t strong enough to win. We were strong enough to run second or third, and ended up fourth. A lot to be proud of, just not enough.”

Now, a short message to all of the Chase Haters filling my timeline at the moment.  STFU!

Yeah, I get it.  If you’re a Keselowski or Gordon fan you are mad that your guy won’t have a shot for another title.  But if you’re a Hamlin or Newman fan you love this new format. This new format has delivered that every week and I expect it to deliver next week in Florida.  So sit back and enjoy the show!

 

Motor City Masters contestant creates Scholarship for LGBT Design Students

bt-scholar

Bryan Thompson, runner-up on this season’s Motor City Masters and recent Out of the Tunnel Podcast guest is putting his winnings to work.

Last night, on the final episode, Thompson came in 2nd to the talented Camillo Pardo.   After the show aired Bryan took to social media to make this announcement:

Congratulations to Camilo Pardo! It was an honor to compete alongside Camilo on#MotorCityMasters, and I had a blast.

We decided to share the prize, with the first place winner keeping the $100,000, and giving the Camaro to the runner up.

This means the world to me because it means I can create, and fund, the design scholarship that I was competing for.

Without further ado, I’m proud to announce the primary reason I decided to compete on this show: to fund The Bryan Thompson Design Scholarship, created to reward exceptional talent in Automotive Design.

Thompson went on to say that the new scholarship fund will reward talented design students by helping pay for eduction at College for Creative Studies or Art Center College of Design.

Grand Prix of Houston, Race 2 Sunday

cDSC_5736-680x1024

Takuma Sato looked for better results than Day 1

cDSC_5737-671x1024

Mike Conway had his hand bandaged after his shunt into the tires Saturday

cDSC_5741-669x1024

Jack Hawksworth prepares for Sunday qualifying

cDSC_5743-649x1024

cDSC_5749-1024x741

Tires were a major story all weekend.

cDSC_5744-602x1024 cDSC_5747-581x1024 cDSC_5748-612x1024

cDSC_5750-588x1024 cDSC_5756-671x1024

cDSC_5759-658x1024

cDSC_5760-611x1024

cDSC_5763-1024x743

cDSC_5787-1024x663

Castroneves jumped to the lead early Sunday

cDSC_5788-1024x639 cDSC_5790-1024x640 cDSC_5791-1024x710 cDSC_5794-1024x779 cDSC_5813-1024x708 cDSC_5816-1024x693 cDSC_5831-1024x670 cDSC_5832-1024x640 cDSC_5834-1024x659 cDSC_5854-1024x670 cDSC_5857-1024x625 cDSC_5864-1024x659 cDSC_5865-1024x611 cDSC_5869-1024x739 cDSC_5878-1024x645 cDSC_5887-1024x566 cDSC_5890-1024x707 cDSC_5892-1024x686 cDSC_5894-1024x705 cDSC_5896-1024x582 cDSC_5899-1024x669 cDSC_5903-1024x669 cDSC_5908-1024x685 cDSC_5910-1024x636

 

Tom Hessert Wins First Super Speedway Race at Talladega

Grant Enfinger, driver of the Casite-Motor Honey-Advanced Auto Parts #90 Ford, and winner of the first 3 races of the season in the ARCA racing series started from the pole at Talladega Superspeedway in the International Motorsports Hall of Fame 200 and was looking for win number 4 of the 2014 season. Once the green flag flew, the front of the field ran single file up front for the first half of the race with Mason Mitchell, Justin Boston, Mark Thompson, and John Wes Townley rounding out the top 5 behind Enfinger.

Green flag pit stops began on lap 36 of the 76 lap event. Multiple drivers were penalized for speeding on pit road including leader Enfinger who had dominated the first half of the race. Clay Campbell, Mark Thompson, and Frank Kimmel were among the 16 pit road speeding violations. Justin Boston in the #25 Zloop Chevrolet took over the lead after pit stops until lap 54 when he was passed on the track by the Zaxby’s #15 of John Wes Townley.

The first and only caution of the race came out on lap 56 when Justin Allison, grandson of Donnie Allison, in the #88 HAVACOSales.com Ford, blew a right front tire and slammed into the side of Clay Campbell driving the #52 Federated Auto Parts Chevrolet for Ken Schrader Racing, causing Clay to spin out. The caution put many of the the penalized race cars back into contention for the win.

The race went back to green at lap 64 with John Wes Townley in first followed by Boston, Mitchell, and Tom Hessert. Bobby Gerhart, making his 300th start in the series took the lead with 4 laps to go and was quickly over taken by John Wes Townley. With two laps to go Tom Hessert, driving the #77 Cunningham Motorsports Caregard-AxiomWarranty.com Dodge took the lead for the first time of the day after passing Townley on the high side and lead the final two laps to win his first ever super speedway win and the 4th of his career. Hessert was followed by John Wes Townley in 2nd, teammate Austin Wayne Self, driving the #22, in 3rd, Mason Mitchell in 4th and Spencer Gallagher in the #23 rounding out the top 5. The rest of the top 10 were Derrick Lancaster in 6th, Bobby Gerhart 7th, Frank Kimmel 8th, Grant Enfinger 9th, and Buster Graham in 10th.

Leilani Munter, driving the #55 Blackfish Toyota for Venturini Motorsports ran in the top 10 most of the day and ended up finishing the race in the 14th position.

Familes of Flight 370 Forced out of their Hotel for Ferrari F1 Team

No-Vacancy-graphic-1024x487

The grief stricken families waiting for news of their loved one on Flight 370 have been forced out of their hotel on Friday.  Their rooms had been booked months in advance buy the Ferrari Formula One team for the upcoming Malaysian Grand Prix.

Bernie Eccleston, F1 Chief, confirmed to NBC News that the block of rooms at the Cyberview Hotel in Kuala Lumpur were being taken by the Ferrari team.  “I feel terribly, terribly sorry for these people,” he said. “But it is up to the hotel. What would happen if you told somebody that they no longer had a booking? You would get sued, I’d imagine.”

Ferrari has yet to release a statement.

More than 3,000 team members, support staff and media travel to each Grand Prix race – this does not include the huge number of fans that are filling hotels in advance of the March 30th race.

Malaysian Airlines has transferred the families to another hotel – but it is about 30 miles from the headquarters that is heading up the search for the missing plane and providing updates to the relatives who are desperate for answers.

IndyCar: Oversexed or On Point?

Last week, new IndyCar sponsor United Fiber & Data announced the UFD Grid Girls.  These 6 women will serve as the spokesmodels for James Hinchcliffe’s #27 UFD IndyCar for the 2014 season.  Although the exact details of their involvement for UFD and at each race haven’t been detailed, it’s fairly safe to assume their duties.  Having attractive women in tight clothing serving as models for a product at a race track is not a new concept.photo-1-300x300

My initial reaction is it is great to see a new sponsor getting involved with the series.  For me, sponsorship should be more than logos on a car.  Being a sponsor should mean having a presence at the track.  It means being visible to fans.  What’s more visible than attractive women?  Not much.  Of course I don’t care for their bits a pieces as I’m more of a nuts and bolts type of guy myself, but I recognize the instant benefit of these women.

Facing facts here, racing is still very male dominated in fandom.  Men care more about fast cars than women.  It’s one of those unexplainable facts like, why aren’t there more female engineers or more male nurses?  For some reason, guys just tend to like racing more than women.  Well, if you are catering to the audience at hand, beautiful women are the way to go.  There’s a reason there are a lot of ladies in bikinis straddling low-riders on the cover of hot rod magazines.  The two things just go together, right or wrong.  Plus, as I’ve stated before in various posts, humans like looking at pretty things.  Period.  Pretty flowers.  Pretty cars.  Pretty houses.  Pretty beaches.  You name it.  This includes pretty women.

However, there are some that expressed displeasure with the move.  Some people think it’s sexiest.  Others think it sends the wrong image to girls.  There are a few that just think it’s tacky.  I get it.  I understand it.  All of those points are valid in some facet.  But, I don’t think 6 smart, professional, beautiful women should be panned for working what they have.  Heck, if I had a killer rack and rocking body you can bet your sweet rear-end I’d be the ringleader of the crew.  Pass the stilettos and the checkered flag because I would be strutting my stuff.  I also think there is a belief that being attractive somehow makes your IQ drop, that in some way if you are attractive that you must be an idiot.  Brains and beauty can be had.   The valedictorian of my high school class was a drop dead gorgeous, tall blonde with a gigawatt smile.  I don’t discount these 6 women because they are attractive just like I didn’t discount her.  I also know that there are worse signals that can be sent to young girls than them seeing an attractive female in tight clothes working.  Hello, look at Miley Cyrus twerking on stuffed animals with her tongue hanging out while wearing a weed emblazoned one-piece (that said, she’s been brilliant at marketing herself).  You can’t shield your kid from that media frenzy.

photo-2-1-300x300Lots of people, including myself at times, have dinged Danica Patrick for using her body over her perceived talent at times.  IndyCar fans complained that she stole the spotlight just because she could pose half-naked on the hood of a car, while she was often times uncompetitive on the track.  She was vilified for being popular for the supposed wrong reason.  However, it’s a fact that IndyCar television ratings have been down since Danica left IndyCar despite new cars, engine competition, and a vastly improved on-track product.  The ratings dip can’t be fully pegged on Danica, but you can’t ignore the fact Danica was ridiculously popular regardless of reasoning behind the fandom.  Did she draw fans to IndyCar because she was attractive?  You betcha.

I know deep down we all want people to like IndyCar because the racing is great.  We don’t want it to be a gimmick.  Many people love IndyCar because it’s a fairly pure form of racing compared to the more WWE styling of NASCAR the last decade or so.  We hate to admit it, but IndyCar is withering on the vine.  We can all say that the racing is amazing, but that’s only a small portion of the equation for success.  Right now, IndyCar is the awkward, overweight person that’s a bit of a sloppy mess you’re trying to help get a date and all you can say is, “But they have an amazing personality!”  Furthermore, IndyCar has to be cool.  You don’t want someone to show up at their first IndyCar race and it be filled with a bunch of grumpy 70 year olds complaining about the lack of horsepower.  You want the event to seem cool, vibrant, fun, sexy, youthful…you need to appeal to the crowd you want to attract…or in IndyCar’s case, the crowd you HAVE to attract…for survival.

My point is, IndyCar has a new sponsor.  YAY!  That new sponsor is spending money on activation.  YAY!  They are using some damn fine young women to capture some attention and promote the sport, their driver, and their product.  YAY!  IndyCar desperately needs more UFD Girls.  Heck, get all the girls together, the Miss Grand Prix’s, the Fuzzy’s Vodka girls and make a calendar.  Promote the heck out of it.  Make IndyCar sexy.  Make IndyCar cool.  Don’t look down on these young ladies and dig around for a negative.  It’s 2014.  I think we should all be comfortable enough in our own skin to either look past something we don’t like that much, or embrace the positives it could help bring to the sport.

That said, where can I audition to be a UFD Girl?  I have killer legs.

 

Safety – an Important Read

hans_device_helmet

Last week, Jim Downing, the co-founder of HANS Performance Products penned an open letter to the racing industry.  Downing manufactures the HANS (Head and Neck Restraint Device) – one of the most important pieces of saftey equipment ever developed for race car drivers.  This has been a bleak season in the world of Motorsports, with several drivers lost – and Downing has some thoughts to share.

This letter needs to be read by every driver – from all racing series…and their fans:

To: Drivers, Track owners and Motor Racing Media
From: Jim Downing, co-founder of HANS Performance Products
Subject: Safety on U.S. short tracks and drag strips

It’s a sad fact the number of fatal accidents in motor racing is worse than people realize. We know, because it’s been part of our responsibility as a safety company to keep up with injurious accidents to learn what we can for future reference.

From April of this year through August, there have been at least 20 fatal accidents around the world where a driver or co-driver has been killed due to a racing incident. By any standard, it’s been a disastrous season. But there’s another statistic that’s even worse. The rate of fatal accidents on short ovals and drag strips in the U.S. continues to get worse. Since Dale Earnhardt’s fatal accident at Daytona, there have been at least 194 drivers killed in crashes on short tracks and drag strips – despite all the new safety improvements available. This data comes from the landmark safety study by the Charlotte Observer, SFI and current media accounts.

This tragic trend among weekend warriors has been evident in the past two seasons. In April through August of last year, four drivers were killed by crashes on short ovals and two were killed on drag strips. With several months remaining in the season, this year five drivers have been killed on short ovals during this same time span and three drivers have died in drag racing accidents.

We can do better than this in U.S. motor racing. This letter is a plea for drivers and track owners to take steps that can immediately improve safety on short ovals and drag strips. Four pieces of equipment can make a vital difference in cockpit safety: Head Restraints, full containment seats, head surrounds and side nets.

Of the eight fatalities on short ovals and drag strips this year, we believe the proper use of this system of cockpit safety equipment could have resulted in more favorable outcomes in five of the crashes.

Weekend warriors can install this equipment at a reasonable cost without waiting for track owners to build expensive solutions that may not be feasible.

It’s a matter of drivers realizing that the sport of racing will always be dangerous no matter what type of track or car is involved or how high or low the speeds. When it comes to speed, last December at the IMIS Safety and Technical Conference, we demonstrated that a Delta V (sudden decrease in velocity) of 42 mph can result in a fatal head or neck injury.

At the IMIS conference, we also cited statistics about the deaths of weekend warriors on short ovals and drag strips increasing since the death of Earnhardt. Sadly, that trend appears to be continuing. In honor of those racers who have been killed and with an eye on the future, we hope that as a respected member of the motorsports community you will join us in making racing safer and help raise awareness about improving safety for weekend warriors.

Two Loves Combined

Two of my biggest automotive loves might not seem like the mesh – VW’s and NASCAR.

Wuste (Fest) took care of that last weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.  Wuste is one of the largest VW/Audi shows in the US – and they came from all over the country to Vegas for a weekend in the sun.

On Saturday afternoon, over 1,000 cars pulled through the turn 2 tunnel and took over the Cup and Nationwide Garages, the Neon Garage and just about every point in between.

Fine German engineering and a NASCAR track….. it just doesn’t get any better than that.

DSC0003-1024x680

credit Michael T. Myers – Queers4Gears

DSC0005-1024x680

credit Michael T. Myers – Queers4Gears

DSC0004-1024x680

credit Michael T. Myers – Queers4Gears

DSC0007-1024x680

credit Michael T. Myers – Queers4Gears

DSC0009-1024x680

credit Michael T. Myers – Queers4Gears

DSC0012-1024x680

credit Michael T. Myers – Queers4Gears

DSC0011-1024x680

DSC0013-1024x680