Wednesday, November 28, 2007

What were the biggest surprises, disappointments and thrillers in NASCAR of 2007?

The biggest surprises came in all three series, first with the Truck Series Championship battle, this one was close just about all season long, no one driver ran away with it and amazing enough the championship came down to the final race, 29 points going in and one mistake (with a part), that’s a real championship battle. Congratulations to Ron Hornaday Jr and Kevin Harvick Inc., what a season.

Of course, in Nextel Cup, one NASCAR writer wrote “The championship belongs to Jimmie Johnson, but the season belongs to Dale Earnhardt Jr.” and that sentence is right on, on big surprise was Dale Earnhardt Jr’s announcements, first leave DEI and then join Hendrick Motorsports (and I might add leaving without the #8 and Budweiser), that’s going to be a good combination and with that Hendrick Motorsports creating the most powerful racing teams with Johnson, Gordon, Mears and now Earnhardt Jr… all winners

The Busch series seeing two championships, let’s be honest here, by the halfway point in the Busch Series, did anyone really think Carl Edwards wasn’t going to win the championship, but it was interesting (who we kidding, it was funny) to see the owner’s championship not won by Roush-Fenway Racing, but by RCR by a combined effect of Jeff Burton and Scott Wimmer.

The biggest disappointment was NASCAR’s decision to penalize Kurt Busch for the Dover pitroad incident, not suspended him. To me “This is not about points, but rather Busch’s reckless driving on pit road and endangering the life of person namely a crewmember.”

On-track had to be both Kasey Kahne and Greg biffle, both driver’s showed so much promise in 2006, Kasey Kahne had the most victories and was in the chase and yet both teams struggled so much.

Finally, one of the biggest disappointments came from DEI and Joe Gibbs Racing… DEI and Dale Jr. for 10 DNF’s including 6-7 blown engines and Gibbs Racing for leaving General Motors (Chevrolet) and switching to Toyota… Toyota didn’t have such a good year, but I will go on record as saying some is do to the top 35 rule, the go or go homers.

The biggest thriller of the season by far was the Daytona 500 with a good race and a thriller of a finish – Kevin Harvick edging out Mark Martin for the victory while a huge wreck broke out behind them with Harvick’s teammate Clint bowyer sliding across the finish line on his roof. With that said, racing fans were treated to several exciting finishes beyond just Daytona, how about both Martinsville races with Johnson vs. Gordon, Texas with Burton vs. Kenseth, Bristol (first COT race) Kyle Busch vs. Burton, the Busch race at Las Vegas with Burton vs. Kyle Busch, like I said thriller finishes.

Previously I asked the question, what was the biggest story in racing of 2007 and while I said Dale Earnhardt Jr. for both his On-track and Off-track season, one person said “Lewis Hamliton”… however that got me thinking, I would love to see Lewis Hamilton in a McLaren vs. Michael Schumacher in a Ferrari vs. F. Alonso in a Renault for the World Championship, that would be entertainment. Comments…

- Racedriven

Thursday, November 22, 2007

What were the biggest stories in racing of 2007?

Happy Thanksgiving everyone, boy do we have alot to be thankful for on this day, how about being thankful for a good racing all season long. On this Thanksgiving while you give thanks for all of this good things in your life and sit down to dinner with your friends and family, I ask you to ponder this question for a while, what was the biggest stories in racing of 2007 and what what was the biggest?

I have been pondering that very question for the last couple of weeks as it was the WindTunnel question of the week, so here's what my take...

When you look at last season in the world of Motorsports, you had a lot to consider for this award and the same goes true for this season. While Formula 1 had a lot to be thankful after last season (2006) including one good championship battle and the idea of moving on to 2007 despite the announcement of there 7-time champion Michael Schumacher would be retiring, they can’t say the same for the 2007 season as it’s on-track boring racing was over shadowed by its Ferrari with the FIA vs. McLaren-Mercedes in what is called Stephen-Gate that ended with no-constructors championship for McLaren and a terrible $100 Million Dollar fine and to top it off, Formula 1 then decided to pull out of not only Indianapolis, but the entire market of the United States fans in the cold.

This past May ended with "One of the great specticulars in racing" the Indianapolis 500 living up to its name after Dario Franchitti won in great fashion. The Indy racing League followed that up with it's Indy 500 winner capturing the IRL Championship with a last turn battle (on fuel) for the championship.

Another big story of the year was the Open-Wheel drivers invading NASCAR with driver’s like Dario Franchitti, Jacques Villeneuve, and Sam Hornish Jr., to join Juan Montoya made the cut.

There’ll all big stories in one way or another, but the 2007 season not only in NASCAR, but in all of Motorsports belongs to NASCAR’s most popular driver Dale Earnhardt Jr.. When you look at the season that Dale Jr. has had both On-track and off-track that wins this one…

His On-track nightmare included not making the chase (due to the 100-point penalty after Darlington or the 10 DNF’s including 7 blown engines.) wasn’t even the biggest.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s new colors and car number were revealed at the Dallas Convention Center (Hendrick Motorsports/Autostock photo)

But off-track it was Dale Earnhardt Jr’s four huge announcements that really take the bill – first, (in May) leave DEI, second (in June), joining Hendrick Motorsports, third, Budweiser and #8 will not be making the move to Hendrick Motorsports with him and finally, announcing that he will be driving the #88 AMP Energy-Mountain Dew-National Guard Chevrolet Impala SS.

What a season, now that I have given fuel for thought, so what is the biggest story in racing of 2007 and why? comment below... See Yeah!

- Racedriven

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Should Bruton Smith - SMI consider moving Lowe’s Motor Speedway to the historical North Wilkesboro Speedway?

In my piece last week entitled “Bruton Smith – SMI: The tale of New Hampshire International Speedway and North Wilkesboro Speedway.”, I started to touch on this very topic of just what should Bruton smith and SMI do with the newly purchased historic North Wilkesboro Speedway land? Newly purchased Brian? With the purchase of the New Hampshire International Speedway now renamed New Hampshire Motor Speedway for 340 Million dollars, in that transaction, SMI also purchased Bahre’s 50% of North Wilkesboro Speedway and now that he owns the entire lot lock stock and barrel, what should he do with it?

By now, NASCAR fans have read about Smith – SMI’s problems with Concord, NC about Smith wanting to build a drag strip on the site of his Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Concord and the city originally said “NO”. Of course right after that, Smith said he might consider moving the Lowe’s Motor Speedway from Concord to Charlotte just 20 miles or so miles away. Keep in mind that Lowe’s Motor Speedway needs well over $100 million dollars in updates (according to an article) and moving it would cost somewhere over 350 million dollars (according to same article). Seen then, Concord has reversed there ways and said yes to the drag strip in Concord and it is reported that the city of Concord has offered additional business stuff as well.

Personally, the Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Charlotte has a lot of history and I would rather see it stay just were it is, but if it does move, then I would like to see it as a short track and in North Wilkesboro.

Now just think about instead of purchasing a new piece of land in Charlotte, why not build the new Lowe’s Motor Speedway a little ways away from Charlotte just outside of the city of North Wilkesboro on the site of the old historic North Wilkesboro speedway. Right now there is save the speedway going on and wouldn’t it be great to have a bit of history return to NASCAR. Of course I would want to see the track be a 0.6 mile track (Just what the current North Wilkesboro speedway was back in 1996.) A new short track on the schedule with two Cup Series dates and an all-star event that sounds good.

With all that said, hearing that Bruton Smith – SMI will have a decision made by next Thursday (Thanksgiving Day), that will be a huge announcement in many different ways.

- Racedriven

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The end of an era this Sunday in Homestead...

(Image taken by me - Kodak EasyShare DX6490)

Last race for Dale Earnhardt Jr. in his #8 Budweiser DEI Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS.

- Racedriven

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Bruton Smith – SMI: The tale of New Hampshire International Speedway and North Wilkesboro Speedway.

By now, most NASCAR racing fans have heard that Bruton Smith – SMI has purchased (my home racetrack since I live in Massachusetts) the New Hampshire International Speedway and the other 50% of North Wilkesboro in North Carolina from the Bahre family for 340 million in cash. What a purchase, he buys two Nextel (Sprint) Cup dates at NHIS, NHIS was the only soldout race in the chase so far, the historic North Wilkesboro Speedway and lots of land, So the question is, what is SMI’s plans for not only the newly renamed New Hampshire Motor Speeday, the historical North Wilkesboro, but his Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Concord, NC.

Before I get into what this NASCAR racing fan what like to see change at NHMS, two things, first, Yes, I do know how New Hampshire received there seconddate? I know that the Bahre family and Smith each purchased half of North Wilkesboro Speedway and then closed it, moving one Cup date to Texas Motor Speedway and the other one went to New Hampshire International Speedway. My reaction was: It sucked that NASCAR lost one great race track that had lots of history and good short track racing and I would have rather have seen the dates come from somewhere else, but below you might find an solution. Second, What was my reaction to Smith – SMI purchasing NHIS, now NHMS: At first my arms went up and I just said well there goes the cup dates, but now after thinking about it, a little advice from Marc at Full Throttle and reading the Boston Herald article, I now am thinking that this could be good.

With that said, the Boston Herald is reporting from SMI sources that SMI has big plans on what to do with the northeasts only speedway, (from the article) Smith – SMI plans on making NHMS a motorsports mecca that will not only include two NASCAR Nextel Cup races each season, but the World of Outlaws and the National Hod Rod Association. The article also says that the NASCAR Busch East and Whelen Modified Tour will no longer be part of the Nextel Cup weekend at NHMS and instead be scheduled twice a year as a standalone event and Lights (hopefully only for rain delays), all of this should be announced before Thanksgiving Day.

That means building a new drag strip (keep in mind that New Hampshire already has a drag strip and they may not want to issue a permit to built a drag strip including in Loudon area), a dirt track which I would attend, lights that are really needed for late races due to rain or some kind of delay and hopefully more…

Keeping with New Hampshire Motor Speedway, this racing fan would like to see:
1. Paved (smoother at least), lighted and more access parking, 2. Better walking paths from the parking to the speedway entrances, 3. More seating (100,000 - 110,000 seats), 3. A bridge off of turn two or back straight to get the fans from the seating to the back parking lots without having to travel by the infield tunnel, 4. Keeping the Busch East and Whelen Modified Tour races on the same weekend as the two Sprint-Nextel Cup dates (Believe me, it sells tickets on both Friday and Saturday and 5. A Little change to the track layout (length), but not another cookie cuter racetrack (being 1.5 miles), I love short track racing, a ¾ mile or create a 1 mile track like Phoenix…that would be perfect for two Sprint-Nextel Cup dates.

And of course, lower ticket prices down to the prices of all of his other racetracks which includes $40 for bottom seats instead of the $60 now.

If the only thing you take away from this article is, think about this:
What to do with North Wilkesboro Speedway? Bruton Smith – SMI, why not move the Lowe’s (Charlotte) Motor Speedway to just outside the city of North Wilkesboro, on the land of the North Wilkesboro Speedway. Think about it, recreating the historical North Wilkesboro Speedway as a 0.625 mile with over 100,000 seats, a top notch track that would give the North Wilkesboro area there speedway back and restore some history including two Cup dates, that would be huge and I would be in favor of it.

Finally, this will be interesting and the announcement should come before Thanksgiving Day, the question is, who will be thankful and for what?

- Racedriven

Friday, November 9, 2007

Racedriven Recap: Coverage of the 2007 SEMA Show in Las Vegas

Over the past week with the help of a couple of websites, blogs and a SEMA Promotion Associate, I have created several pieces in a series on the SEMA Show.

The sights and sounds of SEMA 2007 - Part One:
Highlights three photos I received via email from SEMA Promotion Associate - a Chevrolet Bel-Air, a custom built Scion xB and what looks like 1970's Plymouth Cuda.

The sights and sounds of SEMA 2007 - Part Two:
Highlights four hits, one that just made me say “What were they thinking?” and the question, So would you drive on 30s? Or are they just for show?

The sights and sounds of SEMA 2007 - Part Three:
Highlights The Best in Show edition: Two Alternative Fuel vehicles - Jay Leno's E85 powered Chevrolet Corvette C6RS and a 1,000 HP ProPane 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle by Mothers.

Exclusive SEMA Show photos from a SEMA Promotions Associate:
Highlights 13 different vehicles including three vehicles from my part one piece.

- Racedriven

The sights and sounds of SEMA 2007 – Part Three

The Best in Show edition: When I think of Best in Show, this year its all about going green and so we have more than one car in this category, but one theme, alternative fuels.

First Jay Leno’s E85 Chevrolet Corvette C6RS (Credit: Autoblog SEMA video)

Second is a 1,000 HP ProPane 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle by Mothers. The idea of filling up my 1,000 hp chevelle with Propane instead of gasoline is amazing, no more gasoline prices. (Credit: Autoblog/Mother’s)

Third, Just about any other vehicle using Diesel, Bio-Diesel, Ethonal, E85, Propane, Hydrogen or any other fuel instead of using gasoline.

- Racedriven

Thursday, November 8, 2007

The sights and sounds of SEMA 2007 – Part Two

It’s been about a week now since the SEMA Show 2007 has ended and with the help of a couple of blogs – websites, here’s the highlights including four hits, one that just made me say “What were they thinking?”.

The Year One Bandit, we all remember the classic 1977 movie “Smokey and the Bandit” with the 1977 Pontiac Trans Am driven by Burt Reynolds, well to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the movie, Burt Reynolds and Year One got together and create this beast and what a look it is, works for me. (Credit: SEMAinsider)

The Good Guy's show 2007 Street Rod of the Year built by Barry’s Speed Shop in California. What a ride, I have seen some of Barry’s work and this one is top notch. (Credit: Straightline)

A 2008 Cuda (Barracuda) Concept, I’m not sure what to make of this concept, I like the retro look and it does grab your attention, but at the same time the Cuda name is from Plymouth, not Dodge. (Credit: Straightline)

From the Transformers Movie, the Camaro, still a stunning a vehicle and can’t wait to see the new vehicle hit the streets. (Credit: SEMAinsider)

Welcome to the ugliest Mustang I have seen yet, this is the vehicle that makes you want to say “What were they thinking?” when you built this… What a statement, does anyone have an idea of what that statement might be? (Credit: Autoblog)

Over at the CarDomain Blog, the question has been asked, So would you drive on 30s? Or are they just for show?

First, I am not an expert on wheels and tires nor have I ever driven on anything above stock wheels and tires being maybe 15-16’s so I am entering new territory.

With that said, no way period, the only vehicle that I have ever seen 30’s was a Hummer H2 and that’s not even right, a Hummer H2 or any other 4x4 vehicle should be driven both on-road and off-road, other than that, 30’s don’t look good on a car, its ugly, you have to the car to sit right, the stands, the look and 30’s don’t do that. Driven on 30’s, no way, I can’t even imagine how that feels and is it even safe? Either way it’s not a fashion statement – for show or would I ever drive on them.

In part three, I'm still looking for that one stunner, the best in show vehicle, any ideas?

- Racedriven

Friday, November 2, 2007

The sights and sounds of SEMA 2007 - Part One

This is one of greatest times of year if you are a car enthusiant, it's the SEMA show in Las Vegas this week and what a collection of vehicles they have on display. Now if you are not invited (that would include myself), the next best thing is videos and pictures online and what a gallery many online sites and blogs already have, below is a couple of photos from the last couple of days.

1957 Chevrolet Bel-Air

New Scion xB

And what looks like 1970's Phymouth Cuda
If this a preview of vehicles to see at SEMA, I can't wait to see everything once people get back from Las Vegas and thank you to Teresa Randle of New Media Strategies and for the photos above. Look for part two and beyond in a couple of days.

- Racedriven