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.

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credit Michael T. Myers – Queers4Gears

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credit Michael T. Myers – Queers4Gears

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credit Michael T. Myers – Queers4Gears

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credit Michael T. Myers – Queers4Gears

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credit Michael T. Myers – Queers4Gears

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credit Michael T. Myers – Queers4Gears

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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!

Westboro Baptist Church Plans NASCAR Protest at Kansas Speedway

SCROLL DOWN FOR UPDATE

Maggie Phelps, spokeperson for the Westboro Baptist Church and their endless “God Hates Fags” campaign that have plagued the funerals of US Soldiers and the children in Newtown have turned their eyes on NASCAR. The daughter of the Church’s founder says that they are planning a protest at a NASCAR race. Tueday, Phelps Tweeted. “NASCAR is racing fag cars.”20151213201034

It’s not clear what set them off, but it appears it may have been an interview by Queers4Gears with Brad Keselowski in Phoenix.  The current Sprint Cup Champion said there was room for an openly gay driver in the sport. In a seperate tweet, Phelps linked to an SB  Nation/Outsports article that had picked up on the Keselowski interview, adding, “Next they’ll have a splashy fag wedding.”

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The leader of the “church” tweeted that the injury of the fans in Daytona was a punishment from God because NASCAR is pro-gay (follow the link in his tweet)

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As of now, there is no indication of what race the Westboro Baptist Church plans to protest.

Queers4Gears spoke to NASCAR this morning at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, they agree with what Keselowski said and will stand with their driver.

UPDATE:

The Worstboro Baptist Church will be picketing at the Kansas Race on April 21st. You can read the announcement from their site – note their note at the end: “God Hates Brad Keselowski”

Queers4Gears reached out to Kansas Speedway to ask if the Westboro Protesters would be welcome on the Speedway grounds or required to use a public space outside of the Speedway.

Kelly Hale, Director of Public Relations said, “We do have a spot on speedway grounds that groups that want to protest are welcome to use. We worked closely with our local law enforcement to make sure the area is safe for the groups but also doesn’t create congestion for traffic (we’re located across the street from restaurants, retail destinations and hotels).”


DO YOU DISAGREE WITH THE WESTBORO BAPTIST CHURCH? THEN SUPPORT Queers4Gears in the 2013 AIDS Walk! What better way to send that “church” a message than donating to a pro-gay NASCAR Charity effort – and it’s a GREAT cause!

Click Here to Donate!

Every dollar you give will be matched by Penn and Teller!

NHRA is different than NASCAR

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This weekend I headed out to the The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the NHRA Full Throttle Vegas Nationals.

I am not sure I understand enough about the sport to properly “report” on the race results.  Plus, with the TV delay of the on-track action, I was hesitant to live-tweet the race results.  Because there isn’t any “beating and banging” there isn’t as much on-track drama in NHRA….. everyone seems to get along.

So with the lack of drama and dirty jokes on my part – I wanted to focus on how NHRA is different from NHRA:  how do these two “experiences” differ for the fans in attendance.

The pit areas could not be any different from what you would see at a NASCAR Race.  Obviously, there is no infield at a drag strip and there are no permanent garage structures for the teams to work in.

The hauler for each team is the garage.   The sides of the trailer open and a large awning provides shade and cover.  Interestingly, these haulers are not simply for traveling to the races.  Most of the teams work out of large empty warehouse type structures.  They pull the haulers into the empty space and set everything up inside the shop exactly as they would at the track.   At John Force Racing they stage the three teams haulers side-by-side so that their “pit” is the same – whether at the track or back at the home shop.

In NASCAR the car is built and worked on by teams of specialist in shops – most of them based in NC. Early in the week a hauler is loaded with 2 cars and sent towards the track.  On Thursday night – the crew for each NASCAR team flies into the track.  For the most part, in NHRA, the teams travel with the hauler – day in and day out – on the road driving from drag strip to drag strip.

John Force actually hauls two full trailers to the race that are attached together forming a double-wide Technology Center.  It is a full machine shop.  I repeat – a full machine shop. Why bring spare parts to the track when you can literally make ANYTHING with the tools and machines that Force carries to every track.

Q4Gs-NHRA-30OCT2010-006NProbably the biggest difference in a NASCAR pit and the NHRA pits is the type of access than fans have.  At a NASCAR race your ticket gets you a seat in the stands and that’s about it.  NASCAR fans can access the garages and pits if they buy additional passes.  For NHRA events  every ticket is a pit pass – fans can get up close and personal with their favorite driver and team.

A fan might go to a NASCAR race and try all weekend to get one autograph from their favorite driver.  With the open access provided by the NHRA, it would be almost impossible for a fan not to be able to get autographs from several drivers.

But – before we go tagging NASCAR with not being fan friendly- you have to look at the entire situation.  It is not an apples to apples comparison.  NASCAR does have safety concerns to think about.  They have a “hot pass” and “cold pass system.”  Most fans are only allowed to walk around the pits and garages when they are “cold.”  Basically this means that no race cars would be driving around.   During any race, practice or qualifying session NASCAR officials make the garage and pits “hot.”  It would not be safe to have fans walking around the garage as cars were speeding back to their stall.

At an NHRA event there are no hot or cold passes.  Once the cars have run to the top end of the drag strip they are towed back at a slow speed to their pit.  It makes it safer for the fans to walk around.

I hear NASCAR fans complain about not being allowed into the pits without forking over a lot of extra cash. While NASCAR is right to keep fans out of the garages when they are “hot,” I think the sport would be well served to make cold passes more affordable for the average fan.

One also has to look at the crowd size.  The stands this weekend at the NHRA event were packed – with about 22,000 people in attendance.  Compare that to the crowd size of a NASCAR race:  depending on the track, it could be 60,000 to 120,000 fans.  There is no way, logistically, that every fan could be given all-access at a race.  NASCAR needs to be able to set reasonable limits on the number of people in the garage area.

There is one thing fans in NHRA and NASCAR have in common.  They all bitch about the new cars looking the same. NHRA fans say they like the Nostalgia Cars Division because you can tell what brand it is without having to put decals on it……. Sound familiar???

The differences don’t stop in the pits.  Let’s talk about Qualifying.

NHRA does it right.  In short:  bring your stuff to the track and run it; if you are faster than the other guy, you’re in the show.  There are no Provisional slots for Previous Champions and no one is locked into the show because of owner points.  14-Time Champion John Force has to qualify just like all the rookies.  This is the way racing was meant to be: Go fast or go home!

Did I mention the noise?  I now know why they invented the ear plug.  I have tried to explain what 43 NASCAR Cup Cars sound like – what they smell like and have never been able to find words.  I thought I knew what loud was.  I did not.

Nothing can prepare you for the wave of sound that hits you as a Top Fuel Dragster accelerates to over 300 mph in about 4 seconds.  The sound waves literally rattle you insides!  You can stand there and watch the lights on the tree count down…. Anticipating the noise with your fingers stuck in your already plugged ears….the car takes off and the sound still makes you jump (and you knew it was coming.)

The smell of the Nitro burns your eyes and throat – but it’s a good kinda burn!!! Nothing can prepare you for the feeling when those fumes hit your lungs.

The most impressive thing I saw over the weekend was in the pits between rounds.  They run each engine only one time.  After each round they bring the car back to the pits where they proceed to break down and rebuild the entire engine.  Not just the top end of the block – they take apart the entire engine and rebuild it – all in about 45 minutes.

I have never seen a team work so quickly in such a choreographed way.  Ever person had a mental list of tasks and went about them in almost robotic fashion.  This is why it is so important that they set up their mobile pit the same way at every race.  These guys have to able to reach for a tool and know it will always be in the same spot.  If you like gears and tools then you must make it a life goal to attend a NHRA race and watch a tear down/re-build in the pits.

All in all, a weekend with the NHRA is very different than a typical NASCAR weekend…. But don’t let that stop you.  It is something every race fan needs to see, feel and hear.

Queers4Gears Third Anniversary

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It is September 13th – back on this date in 2009 I made my first post on Queers4Gears and never thought for a minute I would still be posting three years later.

It has been quite the ride and it wouldn’t been possible without all of you reading and following along.

Q4G expanded in the last 12 months adding several new contributors and we started producing and hosting our own podcast in-house.   Out average visits per month jumped to over 15k and we passed 5k followers on Twitter.

We re-focused the content on the site to publish mostly commentary and humor – that whole “real journalism” thing was hard – snark is so much more fun!  I also noticed the readers clicked on the snark more than re-blogged news they could find on any site.

I want to thank a lot of people – they have all helped me out a little or a lot along the way and I appreciate you all:  My Mom, Troy Germain, Edward Ochoa, Brent Summers, Ross Bynum, Adam Lovelace, Hannah Rickards, John Bisci, David Talley, Lee Spencer, Reid Spencer, Jeff Gluck, Jim Utter, Doug Rice, Farrah Kaye, Lewis Franck, Mojo Nixon, Kendra Jacobs, Ryan McGee, The Speed Freaks (Crash and Kenny), Gary and Dino, Josh Hamilton, Owen Kerns, Marty Smith and last but not least ALL OF YOU FOR FOLLOWING ALONG!  (I hope I didn’t leave anyone out)

Three years and we’re just getting warmed up…. stay tuned!

Is Kimi Gay? Probably Not – Is Motorsport.com Homophobic? Probably!

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Motosport.com is no fly-by-night blog – it is a major racing website attracting 250-300 thousand unique visitors per month.   This makes their recent Facebook post about F1 Driver Kimi Raikkonen disturbing on several levels.  It’s piss-poor “journalism” and blatantly homophobic.

First of all, Motorsport.com posted a picture that they assume is Kimi Raikkonen.  The image quality is fuzzy and poor at best.  The shot obviously was taken from a great distance with a powerful lens and could be easily photo-shopped.  They even admit that they aren’t sure if it’s Kimi.  The image shows several men on a boat in a sunny location – one of the men appears to be applying suntan lotion on the shoulders of another man.

The picture was posted to their fan forums – and someone at the website decided to cross post the picture to the official Motorsport.com Facebook page with this additional comment, “Is this really Kimi? I may never look at the Iceman the same again. Kimi fans should not view this picture #F1 #sayitaintso”

Let’s break this down:

1)  “Is this really Kimi?” – If Motorsport.com was not sure this is an image of Kimi – why would they post it?   Actions like this do not give their site much journalistic integrity.

2) “I may never look at the Iceman the same again.” – So you would automatically consider someone to be less of a man if you found out he was gay?  You would throw out his racing accomplishments and think less of him because of his sexual orientation?  This is clearly offensive and displays a stunning amount of ignorance – again, very surprising from a “mainstream” website.

3) “Kimi fans should not view this picture, #f1 #SayItAintSo” – Say it ain’t so?  It would really bother you THAT much if a gay guy drove a race car?

Motorsport.com reader, and openly gay AMA Pro Motorcycle racer Luke Huff commented on the post.  He expressed his outrage and asked them to remove the offensive post.  Instead of removing it, Motorsport.com apologized “if Luke was offended”………. how could he not have been?

Motorsport.com also offered to write a profile about Luke and his AMA race efforts – Luke declined their offer and again, simply asked that the post be removed.

Their offer for space on their site seems to be standard fair.  I personally sent Motorsport.com an email to express my own feelings about their post and ask for its removal.  Again, they apologized, “if I was offended” and offered to promote Q4G to their larger audience.

I declined their offer and again asked that the post be removed.  That was over 48 hours ago and the post is still on their Facebook page.  Of course, I (and other gay people) were offended – we just want the post removed.  Blatant homophobia has no place on a mainstream racing site.

UPDATE:

Thanks to a diehard F1 and Q4G fan from Latvia – turns out this picture of Kimi is legit….. and it was posted in the UK’s Daily Mail in late June.  There were several pictures of Kimi applying suntan lotion on a buddy – but there were also several pictures of bikini clad women on the boat.

So while the picture is legit – the Motorsport.com folks fail to also to post pics of women on board while insinuating Kimi is gay.

F1 – Halfsies

The Sauber F1 Team has cut an entire F1 car in half – the detail is amazing..

Be sure to click on the image with your mouse to scroll around the full sized image.

Hat tip to Jalopnnik – sourced from F1talks.pl

 

Kasey Kahne Survives Denny Hamlin’s Epic Charge, Wins at Loudon

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Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR

Kasey Kahne spoiled Denny Hamlin’s heroic drive through the field and held on to win Sunday’s Lenox Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, all but securing a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup with his second victory of the season.

Kahne led the final 66 laps, as fast-closing Hamlin ran out of time after starting deep in the field on a restart on Lap 240. Hamlin had dominated the race, but a miscommunication on pit strategy cost him track position in the late going, and Hamlin ran out of time after securing the runner-up spot.

Clint Bowyer ran third, followed by Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Brad Keselowski. Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Greg Biffle and Ryan Newman completed the top 10.

The victory was Kahne’s first at the Magic Mile and the 14th of his career. Kahne is 12th in the standings — and the only driver in positions 11-20 with two victories — with seven races left before the Chase field is set at Richmond.

The two drivers in positions 11-20 with the most victories qualify for the Chase as wild cards, with the tiebreaker being position in the standings.

With a Chase spot likely in his future, Kahne already is looking ahead to the next race at the 1.058-mile track, which hosts the second race in the Cup series’ 10-race playoff.

“We feel good about where we were when we got here,” Kahne said. “We know what we need to work on, as far as taking notes from today, what the track did and how it changed. The track will be a touch different when we come back, but a lot of the characteristics will be the same.

“We’ll be able to look at this track and really have a good game plan going into the Chase race here. We know some of the other cars that are going to run well, too, when we come back, so we need to be a little better, and I’ve got the right guy to work on that (crew chief Kenny Francis).”

After a cycle of green-flag pit stops just past the halfway point, Hamlin stretched his lead over Kahne to 5.5 seconds, as small rain cells moved toward the speedway. Hamlin then began picking off competitive cars, lapping Tony Stewart, Jamie McMurray and Paul Menard in quick succession.

As Hamlin worked traffic, however, Kahne made inroads into his advantage, cutting the margin between the top two cars to 2.601 seconds on Lap 187. Hamlin’s entire lead disappeared two laps later when NASCAR called a debris caution.

Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

With a light drizzle misting the race track, pole-sitter Kyle Busch stayed out while the rest of the contenders came to pit road to refuel. Busch led the field to a restart on Lap 197 but quickly gave way to Hamlin, who opened a lead of 2.304 seconds over his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate by Lap 211.

Racing on tires that were 32 laps older than those of his rivals, Busch kept the rest of the field at bay, but he overshot his pit stall slightly during a green-flag stop on Lap 231 and lost second to Johnson, who short-pitted on the same lap.

A caution on Lap 232 for David Reutimann’s blown engine scrambled the field. Hamlin, who took four tires on Lap 235, lost 12 spots on pit road and restarted 13th as Kahne and Earnhardt led the field to green with 62 laps left.

By Lap 253, Hamlin had climbed to sixth. On Lap 257, he got by Biffle in Turn 1 for fifth. Harvick succumbed to Hamlin’s superior speed on Lap 263, and the No. 11 Toyota was fourth. Earnhardt was the next victim, surrendering third place on Lap 272. Five laps later, Hamlin ducked to the inside of Bowyer through Turns 1 and 2, took over the second position and took off after Kahne before he ran out of time.

Kahne was acutely aware of where Hamlin was but was confident in his ability to hold the lead as the laps ran down.

“I was definitely focused on the lapped cars I was going by and how I could clear them quick,” Kahne said. “But I lost a ton of forward drive, amd I was getting pretty loose, and Denny was coming on four (tires).

“So I was paying attention to where he was, but I felt pretty good about the lead we had.”

The miscommunication between Hamlin and Grubb centered around whether to take two tires or four on the final stop. Grubb wanted to go with two tires, which would have kept them on par with the rest of the field, but he thought Hamlin wanted fresh rubber on both sides — hence, the four-tire call.

“Darian asked me how much of the tires I felt like I used up,” Hamlin said. “I said I felt like I used them up a substantial amount. I’d been on the lefts for quite a few laps, and so my information to him was that, yeah, we’d used up the tires. He said, ‘I think two’s the call.’

“I said ‘OK, just give me tires and no adjustments.’ He took that as I meant four tires. Just that small communication messed us up a little bit, but nothing’s a given. Even though it was pretty obvious that we had a win in the bag if we took two tires, you never know what could have happened.

“Either way, we had a great day, and we’re going to build on it.”

Notes: Matt Kenseth, who finished 13th Sunday, held the series lead by 16 points over second-place Earnhardt, with Biffle in third, 40 points back . . .  Carl Edwards ran 18th and remained 11th in the standings, 46 points behind 10th-place Keselowski. Edwards, however, is winless this season and needs a victory to enter the wild-card conversation.

 

Podcast – Out of the Tunnel – Show 20

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This week Hannah, Adam and I discuss, The Coke-Zero 400 from Daytona, AJ Allmendinger’s failed drug test, the new member of the Harvick household, a shirtless Kasey Kahne, and penalties for Smoke and Austin Dillon.  We recap the points and make some picks for Louden plus Hannah gives us a NHRA update.

Click play to listen: