Thursday, January 25, 2007

My Take: A preview of the 2007 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Season - Part Two

Looking ahead to the 2007 Nextel Cup Series Season, the next theme that comes to mind is Changes, what changes are fans going to see in 2007.

TV Package:
One of the biggest changes in 2007 is going to be the Television package, including NBC is leaving and the huge return of ESPN/ABC making there come back. There comeback will highlight one of the biggest races of the season at non-other than the Brickyard for the 400. Personal, the coverage has not been bad at all, I liked the TV package in 2006, but now, it might just get better. ESPN always has great coverage, but it’s the ABC coverage that has me looking at this and saying..is ABC going to stay with these races live even if the time limit is gone over. That means cutting into evening news on the East Coast or even the nightly news? I had raised this question before last year and it got quite a response on my FoxSports Blog, after ABC cut off live coverage of an IRL race from I think Michigan.

Read "My Take" Could there be a problem in NASCARs ABC/ESPN TV deal?

Other than that, I like the idea of ESPN covering the final 17 races and the people in the booth are just what NASCAR fans should expect in the booth..Rusty Wallace and Andy Petree to name a few. One thing that should return as a result of this new deal is RPN2nite or at least a similar show and I heard that there will be one soon. Bottom line, if ABC and ESPN can stick with ever Cup Series race until the post winners interview is done and theres the same or less commercials, than it’s a good deal.

Updated Points System and Chase:
This subject has sparked off a huge debut and this past Monday, NASCAR fired back with there plans for adding more points per victory which I am a fan of, they gave 10 extra bonus points per victory. I still would have liked to see points be the same from 33rd place to 43rd place, that might keep wrecked racecars of the track, but this is a start.

2007 Chase will read:
1. 400-point cutoff elimated (Drivers can now be over 700 points out from the leader and still make it in to the chase.)
2. 12-drivers into the chase instead of 10.
3. Points totals adjusted to 5,000
4. Drivers “seeded” by wins. (The Chase drivers will be "seeded" to start the Chase based on the number of wins amassed during the regular season. - Kasey Kahne would have been in 1st after Richmond instead of 10 place to start the chase.)
5. 10-point bonus for each victory. (Got idea.)
(read more...on NASCAR.com)

Bottom Line on this chase, this is a big mistake, but for 2007 I will keep an open mind. Let me explain why? This chase format now opens the door to drivers that had no-shoot at making the chase in the first place, look at 2006 for an example, going into Richmond, the final race to make the chase, there were 11 drivers and 10 spots, Tony Stewat was out and Kasey Kahne was in, that was a battle to get in. Where was the 12th, 13th and beyond drivers, at least 240+ points behind the 11th place driver Tony Stewart. By the end of the season in Homestead, there was no driver challenging Stewart for the 11th spot.

The 2007 Nextel Cup Series season is now less than 23 days away and even less when you factor in the Budweiser Shootout, sometime before the Daytona 500, I will be posting my final installment on this Preview with Part Three - Final Thoughts before the 2007 season inluding the 500, I am waiting to see just how many cars will be at Daytona and who will be were. for now, See Yeah!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Highlights from the 2007 Barrett-Jackson including an all new record of 5 million dollar bid for a Shelby Cobra.



(Image Credit: Barrett-Jackson.com Auction website)

After the last vehicle rolled off the auction block sold yesterday evening, I reflect back on just what happened, the busied night by far was last Saturday night in prime-time. There was one real record breaking event, but the two concept cars that everyone thought would the huge money makers really didn’t. I would say that the 2007 Barrett-Jackson belonged to one man, Carroll Shelby. Shelby, need I say more.

Do we hear 5 Million Dollars:
This bid was the highest bid in history, the vehicle was Carroll Shelby’s personal car, a 1966 SHELBY COBRA 427 "SUPER SNAKE" with a 427 Supercharged engine attached to a 3-speed Automatic Transmission that puts down 800 horsepower. This was not the vehicle that was most talked about in making a huge number, but it is now. I don’t know about anyone else, but having the choose of owning one of Carroll Shelby’s personal rides with an autographyed viser or a concept car, I would choose the Shelby hands-down.

Do we hear $600,000 again…:
Keeping with the Shelby theme, a 2007 Shelby GT (Ford Mustang) Serial #001 that was black with two racing strips went across the block and equaled last years record set by a 2007 Shelby GT500 at $600,000. This Shelby also came with a special edition matching guitar and the rights to purchase another 2007 Shelby GT Serial #002 that is white. One thing to note is that the bidder on this vehicle set a bid at $500,000 and then uped it to $600,000 to meet the record and I think the processed went to charty.

Do we hear a million dollars each:
Here are the two vehicles that everyone was talking about and the thoughts of what were going to be going for a huge some of money, a 1954 Dodge Firearrow II Convertible Concept Car and a 1954 Dodge Firearrow IV Convertible Concept Car, these two vehicle came after the record-breaking Shelby and would only come up with 1 Million Dollars each. Those two were not the only vehicles to come in at 1 Million Dollars each, a 1993 HUMMER H1 "CNN'S WARRIOR ONE" that was featured on the show Overhaulin’ with Chip Foose. All three, very interesting buys.

Paul Sr and Paul Jr from Orange County Choppers:
As a huge fan of the hit show American Chopper, these lots coming up next were interesting to me, Paul Sr and Paul Jr. both auctioned off vehicles from there personal collections. Up first was Sr’s 1967 SHELBY GT500 E FASTBACK (Yellow) made by Unique Performance as part of a trade for an OCC Shelby GT500E Chopper, his re-creation Shelby sold for $210k. Next up was Paul Jr’s 1967 SHELBY GT500 E CUSTOM FOOSE FASTBACK sold fro $225k

The heart of Sr’s collections came up next with his 1968 DODGE HEMI CHARGER 2 DOOR HARDTOP with matching OCC HEMI Chopper that sold together for $235k. The other one of his lots was a 1960 CHEVROLET CORVETTE FI CONVERTIBLE that was driven up with Tony Stewart behind the wheel with matching custom Chopper that sold together for $160k. Finally the last one, a 2004 Shelby GT500E Custom Chopper sold for around $90k.

This was only a small highlight from what went down at this auction and what an auction its was, like I said, this years event was Carroll Shelby. I only wish that I was there in Scottsdale and I can’t wait to see if any vehicle can top 5 Million Dollars in 2008. With that said…..See Yeah!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

So long Benny Parsons and Bobby Hamilton

The NASCAR community is moarning the lost two great champions, first last Sunday when the 2001 Talladega 500 and 2004 Craftsmen Truck Series Champion Bobby Hamilton Sr. passed away at age 49 and then yesterday when the 1973 Cup Champion and Television Announcer & Color Commentator passed away at age 63 and both from Cancer. The TNT broadcasts will never be the same without BP and no one can replease him.

Tributes for Benny Parsons:
- NASCAR remembers 1973 champ Parsons
- Jenkins: Parsons loved eats, song with colleague
- Parsons' passing a major loss for NASCAR, its fans on ESPN
- ESPN's BP Photo Gallery
- Gone But Never Forgotten by SouthernCindi
- I never raced anyone like Benny
and I just can't stop thinking about Benny by DW

Tribute for Bobby Hamilton:
- Full Story by AP
- Full Story with Gallery by BHR
- Bobby Hamilton: A true racer
and Saying goodbye to an old friend by DW

I would like to send my respects and condolences to the family and friends of both Benny Parsons and Bobby Hamilton.

My Take: A preview of the 2007 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Season - Part One


(Image was taken by me at the 2006 New England International Autoshow in Boston this past November)

When I think about the upcoming 2007 Nextel Cup season, one of the first subjects that comes to mind is the who or what is making there debut.

Juan Montoya's debut:
NASCAR fans got a preview last season of what Montoya's impact in NASCAR could be when he first made his ARCA debut at Talladega, followed up with his Busch series debut at Memphis and in completing his ABC schedule with his Cup Series debut at Homestead. The Cup series debut at Homestead was impressive when he first qualifyed around the 12th-13th position and followed that up with a good run until a brush with the wall.

Now looking ahead to the 2007 season with Montoya going full time, I believe the biggest question is going to be will Montoya be able to do the entire 07 season, the schedule in Cup is almost twice as long as Formula 1 and more demanding. With that in mind, his impact will be felt both on and off the track. That might just result with the development of an elite driver on track and a bigger fan base off. Basically, fans will know by the chase just what kind of a driver he is, he could just make the chase or win a race in his rookie season, this driver is one to watch.

Toyota's Cup debut:
This subject has alot of fans questioning what is next for NASCAR after letting a foreign manufacturer into an American Sport. You talk about impact, this will be one huge impact in NASCAR, but how big will depend on there (seven) teams just qualifying for the race, let along finishing the races. The first five races will make or break this debut, but from what I have seen in the Truck Series, that debut season will be huge and I would say a victory is possible considering the people and equipment they have in place. The team lineup is interesting as well with Bill Davis Racing having 2 teams (Dave Blaney in #22 and Jeremy Mayfield in #36), the unknown Red Bull Racing having also two teams (Brian Vickers in #83 and A.J. Allmendinger in #84) and finanlly Michael Waltrip Racing with his three teams.

Speaking of Michael Waltrip Racing with his three car team. One of the interesting this is that Michael is starting almost from scratch with this and using his money, I have been very impressived with his effects as they have been documented on his 13 part TV series on ESPN2 call Michael Waltrip Racing, the new era which follows him and his teams around as they get ready for the season opener in Daytona with having to build and test all new Camrys for his three car team. Michael Waltrip Racing consists of Michael Waltrip in #55 NAPA, Dale Jarrett in #44 UPS and the rookie David Reutimann in #00 Burger King/Domino's Pizza Toyota Camry. Fans may just see the most coming from this team.

Toyota going Nextel Cup Series racing this season, this will be huge and very interesting to watch on many different levels. Want more proof, look at Toyotas racing efferts in the Craftsmen Truck Series were they won the 2006 Championship, Off-Road racing with multi-championships, the Grand American Rolex Series and etc..

NASCAR Car of Tomorrow debut:
This subject has to be one of the biggest talked about in NASCAR rightnow and its been the most talked about for months now, the track debut will not happen until the spring Bristol race. Now I have writen about the COT a number of times and since then I have been reading up on the car and now I read that some fans and NASCAR members may be coming around to this car. I will go on record as saying that I am in that category, while the frontend his ugly, I have compared the COT to some other cars in diffeent series including the Chevrolet Corvette in ALMS that has a front splitter and a big rear wing. The difference is the look of the car and the placement of the front splitter. Much better on the Corvette than on the COT. The safety is a biggest feature along with the fact that the car is bigger in almost everyway, the expection being no change to the wheelbase, but it will still fit in the current haulers.

Bottom line is this, yes the COT is still ugly in the front and that splitter will be a problem, the rearend with the wing looks fine, the enlargered cockpit is better for drivers like Michael Waltrip and the safety continues to grow to the top of the list. One thing I did learn while watching Mikeys TV series is that while the COT will cost alot to develop, once that is complete, the cost savings is going to be huge. In campared to the current car which teams has to build four different versions of (Superspeedway, Road Course, Intermidite and Short Track), the COT only have to have one or two...thats half the number of cars per team. Advantages look good rightnow, just look at a three to five car team.

Just one question and a comment,
Question: From Bristol to Daytona to Atlanta to Watkins Glen, How will the COT race?
Comment, One point, just like the Chevrolet Corvette racecar in the ALMS looks like its street version, the Car of Tomorrow looks a lot more like the street version than the current car, wasn't that one of the goals for the car makers and there saying, "Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday".

One article that caught my eye was over at ESPN entitled "Car of Tomorrow shaping up as pretty nice ride", check it out.

See Yeah!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

A dose of photography - 2006 Chevrolet Corvette Racecar.


Image was taken by me with a Kodak EasyShare DX6490

- Captured this image that was on display in September of last year (2006) at New Hampshire International Speedway.

When I look at this now, two captions come to mind:
- Thinking about the 2007 Racing Season already.
- Look at this Corvette really closely and then look at NASCAR's Car of Tomorrow, see anything similar..the front splitter and the rear wing, the only difference is the way the front splitter is applied to this corvette vs the way its on the COT, the rear wing doesn't bother me on either car.

Think about that the next two weeks before the 24 hours of Daytona at the end of the month.

See Yeah!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

I'm back with my take on the 2007 Detroit Autoshow


(Image Credit: Cars.com)

Imagen seeing this car in your rearview mirror.

Its been a busy, but short off-season for me, but I am thrilled that its over and NASCAR has already started with preseason testing and the 24 hours of Daytona is at the end of the month.

With all that said, what about the auto industry, the 2007 Barrett-Jackson is only 6 days away, but more importantly, the biggest autoshow in the United States has just wrapped up with its press-day, so what went down, what were the winners of the 2007 Detroit Autoshow.

First was the Concepts:
As like last year when Chevrolet debuted there hot and stunning Camaro concept, they were not to be out down this year with there debut of the Camaro Convertible concept. Good job to Chevrolet, of course it would have been better to have never gotten rid of the camaro in 2002 in first place, but it looks good.

I really didn't know what to think of Ford's Airstream Concept, interesting people mover, not something I would consider at this day and time, but in the future it could be a hit.

The Mitsubishi Prototype X, I remember Mitsubishi coming out with something like this a year or two ago, but this concept I really like, the styling is good and looks a little like the the new lancer. It should be an all-wheel drive monster. The jury is still out on the Ford Interceptor, now doesn't that look something like a chrysler? Now those were only a couple of the many concepts debuted at this years autoshow, impressed.

There was one other concept that was debuted at the LA autoshow that impressed me as well and got me thinking, I'm talking about the BMW Hydrogen 7 Prototype, Hydrogen in the next 10 years could be a second fuel to gasoline. Going along with hydrogen theme, the idea of a car that runs on both hydrogen and gasoline would be change, just think about, a consumer purchases a hydrogen vehicle that also runs on gasoline, stores hydrogen at home like Honda's Phill with natural gas, fills up the hydrogen tank for shorter trips and for the longer family trips, they fill up with gasoline. Now thats the best of both worlds, hydrogen for the daily commute to work and gasoline for the longer trips, think about, commutes are getting longer everyday.

Finally, the Mazda Ryuga, another great looking concept that will most likely never make it into productions. It doesn't make a difference whether people like these concepts or not, Mazda is just showing us what will never be, just like Ford with some of there concepts.

On the otherside is Production cars:
This is were things get really interesting, vehicles consumers can buy and drive. Interesting crop with a couple of redesigns that lets face it were much needed.

There were a couple that caught my eye, the 2008 Cadillac CTS, I have always liked the style of a Cadillac and this one is nice, the grill work was spot on and the lines all the way back hits the spot just right. You can't say that about to many vehicles. Some others were the 2008 Lexus IS-F has the upgrading styling that packs 400 horsepower under your foot. Rolls-Royce creates there Phantom in a Drophead Coupe, celeberty with be inline for one of these.

Some of these vehicles we have seen before and well there there. Not to jump on Fords case, but finally they are working on the Ford Focus, but I like the eupo look better, not this and didn't they just come out with the Five Hundred, there was no need to change. That was just a tip of the iceburg of what this show had to offer.

Final Thoughts:
What a selection and a big list, I have got to wonder what is next around the corner from these automakers. The hit of the show for the Concepts was for the second year in a row was the Chevrolet Camaro Convertible Concept and for the production vehicles, the 2008 Cadillac CTS, both were great to look at.

I end this piece with this phrase from Autoblog.com "We came, we saw, we covered, we're done!", and thats that. What's Next.

Looking for coverage, Photos, heres a couple of sites I visit regularly:
- Autoblog.com
- Cars.com
- Kicking Cars Blog on Cars.com
- Babez.de

Monday, January 1, 2007

Happy New Year from RaceDriven

I just wanted to wish everyone a Happy New Year.

Its finally 2007 and the year of 2006 has passed by. Last night, I did what I do every new years eve, I sat up in my bedroom watching first the news at 10pm and them watch Dick Clark's Rockin' News Years Eve Party and I also catch the fireworks from First Night in Boston. I have to say there's nothing like watching the ball drop on television from Times Square in New Year City, maybe one year I will be one of the million people in Times Square, maybe not, first I will have to try First night in Boston.

The Fireworks display on television from Boston was perfect considering I live in Massachustts, what a show. I remember the fireworks display from the fourth and even that was pretty good, but what a display. Good weather too. After that I watch an a couple of shows and movies and went of to sleep. I can even remember seeing the date on my computer screen say Monday, January 1st, 2007.

Well, as for New Years Resolutions, lets face it, Just like most people, I don't really keep to my resolutions, you know loss weight including exercise more, find that special someone or get a better job. The career part is most important to me. Nothing new there in the line of resolutions there, but try out 2007 with a better outlook and start with walking a little, start small with one thing and keep going from there.

As for the New Year, I can't wait to see what this year brings. A new and better Motorsports season including the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Season or just plainly a comer year.Either way, enjoy.

Also check out the first Carnival of Wheels that made its debut yesterday (Dec 31st) at The Garage Blog. Just remember its the offseason in Motorsports and Television is mostly in reruns, theres nothing really to write and blog about. The countdown to Daytona continues with just 47 days to go.

See Yeah!